Daniel Abt impressed after first IndyCar test with Andretti

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It was a good first day at the office for Daniel Abt, the German youngster who had his first day in an IndyCar Monday at Barber Motorsports Park.

“I’m just at a certain stage of my career where I want to take the next step and IndyCar is certainly a great option so that is why I’m here,” Abt said, via IndyCar.com.

“I’m not just doing the test because I’m bored and I want to spend some time racing. First of all, I want to get a feeling for the car and the people. I don’t know what the options are at the moment, but I’m interested in doing the season if the package is right and everything is like I want it to be.”

Abt drove with Andretti Autosport, who seeks to fill a vacancy in its fourth car alongside Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz.

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It’s still relatively early days in the long IndyCar offseason, but there’s realistically one of two options for Abt for Andretti next year.

He could be able to fill the fourth seat on his own provided he gathers enough budget to cover the gap between what the team already has lined up in commercial partners.

Alternatively, it could be possible he gathers a partial budget to make sporadic appearances in a fifth-car, part-time, if the team has enough staffing and personnel for it.

Of late, Michael Andretti has stayed quiet in terms of the team’s plans for its fourth car.

But all expectations point to four cars returning full-time and a fifth could be possible for Abt and/or other drivers – Andretti has Zach Veach and Matthew Brabham in his internal “farm system” after they’ve each completed another season of Indy Lights, and Michael has said he has time for both of them.

Abt also races in the FIA Formula E Championship with Audi Sport Abt (pictured right), and in GP2.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”