IndyCar business: Indy 500 win like “manna from heaven” for DHL with Andretti


Earlier this offseason, we chronicled several elements of Andretti Sports Marketing and Andretti Autosport’s 2015 plans (Milwaukee date evolution, Miami/NOLA promotional plan, MRTI programs, fourth car update, NOLA weekend promotion and Red Bull GRC breakout).

However none of it happens without the people behind the scenes doing the work or, crucially, the commercial partners aligned to an organization.

As far as the widely accepted top three teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series go, key partnerships have helped provide stability from a commercial and sales standpoint that have allowed the team to bring in the best personnel and drivers.

Team Penske’s Verizon (and previous to that, Phillip Morris) relationship has been pivotal to its success; Chip Ganassi Racing has grown over 25+ years thanks to Target; and Andretti Autosport has enjoyed successful relationships with several partners, notably DHL and the Dr Pepper Snapple group for long-term deals.

Consider these three teams have won all IndyCar championships since 2002, consider these three teams could be fielding as many as 12 full-time cars next season, and consider that the rest of the field seems to have a revolving door of primary sponsors and you can see why it can be so difficult for the rest to catch up.

Along with John Lopes, the driving force for many of Andretti Sports Marketing’s deals is Starke Taylor, its Vice Chairman, hailed as a “tour-de-force” by the company’s president.

“We [Taylor, Lopes, and Michael Andretti] formed Andretti Sports Marketing’s partnership specifically to expand our ability to grow and diversify our marketing capabilities and it’s paying off,” said Lopes.

Lopes expanded on DHL’s relationship with Andretti and how huge the Indianapolis 500 victory was for both respective organizations.

“Anytime you win the 500 with a sponsor, it’s like manna from heaven,” Lopes told MotorSportsTalk during an October interview at Andretti Sports Marketing headquarters in Indianapolis. “It’s a good thing.”

While the ‘500 win with driver Ryan Hunter-Reay stood out, it wasn’t the trigger that helped lead to a new three-year extension between DHL and Andretti Autosport for RHR’s No. 28 Honda-powered Dallara.

“DHL had committed to the extension before the Indy 500. We’d talked about it for months,” Lopes said. “It started with a small sponsor, Exel, way back in 2005 and has been with us since the whole history. That was one of the first deals I was involved with (he’s been with Andretti since 2005).”

How does DHL succeed with Andretti? It’s more what happens in boardrooms and meeting rooms than in engineering rooms.

“The whole foundation of the relationship is based on business-to-business,” Lopes explained. “So we are a sales arm for DHL in B2B in the U.S. We have literally a guy who, 60 percent of his work life is focused on selling B2B for DHL.

“I work on it every day with my colleagues.  We’ve become logistics junkies!  I could sit here and talk all day about DHL Global Freight, Exel port operations in New Orleans, and DHL Express international mail service.”

Andretti’s partnership with DHL is meant to increase DHL’s business returns.

“So we are actually tasked on our ROI year-end report, with what we’ve done to assist in DHL’s global business growth,” Lopes said. “We have a meeting where we report to them every week on our status.

“It’s probably one of the things we stress over the most; are we selling enough international express relationships and helping them grow?  If that is successful then the sponsorship is gravy.”

In an era of motorsports where multi-year contract extensions are almost as rare as bald eagles, getting a three-year deal done now in IndyCar – as Andretti and DHL announced in Milwaukee in August – speaks to the work ethic and dedication of both sides.

Hunter-Reay, of course, serves as both the wheelman and brand ambassador. It’s something the modern driver must succeed at, because driving today is about so much more than pure talent.

“Ryan’s done a nice job with it and is a great brand ambassador,” Lopes said. “But it’s about the business relationships.”

When you look back on RHR’s ‘500 win – he gets recognized for it later today with his likeness revealed on the Borg-Warner Trophy – one of the most memorable images will be his son Ryden in a matching, yellow DHL firesuit.

The “awww” factor is priceless there. As is the ROI.

Chase Sexton wins Triple Crown Anaheim 2 Supercross: Levi Kitchen unseats Jett Lawrence in 250s

Supercross Anaheim 2
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Chase Sexton won two of the three races in the Monster Energy Supercross Anaheim 2 Triple Crown, which was enough to overcome a fifth-place finish in Race 2 and give him the overall victory. It was the second Supercross win of his career.

“Super big night for me,” Sexton told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “After last weekend with that being a struggle, I just need to come out here and stop the bleeding a little bit and I did that tonight.”

Sexton suffered a crash on Lap 1 of his heat, sending him into Last Chance Qualifier. The bad gate pick put him in a difficult position to start the race and he was able to climb to only fifth at the checkers.

At Anaheim 2, three riders entered the final race of the Triple Crown in a winner-take-all scenario. Sexton, Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac each had a shot at victory. It raised the intensity level for all riders in an evening that featured a lot of comers and goers.

Jason Anderson took the early lead in Race 3, which set him up for the overall victory. Sexton stalked and passed him midway through the race and then a minor mistake late allowed Webb to slip around as well. Anderson’s 5-1-3 gave him second overall.

“I had a tough couple of rounds, getting off that Anaheim 1 crash and then last week weekend I fumbled a little bit, but I’m excited to get back on the box and start moving forward,” Anderson told Jason Thomas.

Anderson finished seventh in the first two rounds of 2023.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Ken Roczen was the model of consistency in the opening rounds and at Anaheim 2. In three races so far this year, he’s gotten progressively better each time with a fifth in A1, a fourth last week in San Deigo and a third this week.

With results of 2-3-4, he earned his first podium of the season, which lands him fourth in the standings.

“This was hard earned,” Roczen said after the race. “I completely botched the start and then to have to work my way up. I only happen on the very last lap to step up here on the podium.”

Webb’s solid second-place finish in the third race allowed him to leapfrog several riders and finish fourth overall, but a seventh in Race 1 kept him off the podium. He improved in each race in Anaheim, however, with a 7-4-2.

With a 4-6-5, Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the top five.

The intensity of the race was a little too much for Tomac.

While battling side-by-side with Webb in Race 3 at the one-third mark, Tomac jumped wide and crashed hard. He fell to 14th, doing some damage to his bike in the process. He advanced only one position in that race to 13th. His first two races, a third and second, were strong enough to give him sixth overall. He retains the points lead, but it has shrunk to a gap of only four over Sexton and Webb.

Malcolm Stewart injured late in the week and was not able to mount.

Levi Kitchen became the first rider to unseat Jett Lawrence in the Triple Crown format at Anaheim 2 and won the overall with consistency. In his three races, Kitchen finished 4-2-2 to narrowly edge the winner of the first two races.

“This whole day; this is unbelievable. I took a few good slams in practice and I was down on myself,” Kitchen told NBC Sports Jason Thomas afterward. “The first moto I got a good start and got shuffled back, then I knew I just needed to be consistent.”

Jett Lawrence saved his best for last – which wasn’t hard given the struggles he experienced in the first two races.

Despite those problems, he entered Race 3 of the Triple Crown three points behind Kitchen after suffering a pair of disappointing races by his personal measuring stick. In the first and second 250 races of the night, Lawrence hit the ground. He dropped to the final rider in the running order in Race 2 with a Lap 1 fall. But in both races, he was able to overcome his mistake and close the gap so that he had a chance to take his first Triple Crown win of his career.

Click here for full 250 West Main Results

Lawrence rode to third in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2. In the final race of the night, Lawrence did all he could. He earned the holeshot, but when Kitchen fell in behind him, Lawrence’s fate was sealed. His 3-6-1 tied him in points with Stilez Robertson, but the tiebreaker goes to the final round and his win secured second-place.

“I can definitely say Triple Crowns are not my thing,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Will Christien. “We have one more to try and fix this, so hopefully we can get that done.”

Lawrence will move into the 450 class for the Lucas Oil Motocross outdoor season and his 250 record book will be closed.

The best news for Lawrence is the other riders who entered this round in the top three had a worse night, so Lawrence leaves Anaheim with a 16-point gap on Cameron McAdoo and 17 over RJ Hampshire.

Roberston finished 6-1-3 to take the final step of the podium.

“Getting that win in the second Main meant a lot,” Roberston told Thomas. “I wish I could have done a little better in the third one, but we’re still up here on the box.”

Mitchell Oldenburg used consistency to earn fourth in the overall. He finished 5-4-6.

After missing the Main last week in San Diego, Max Vohland finished 7-8-4 to round out the top five.

RJ Hampshire set himself up as the early favorite with his Race 1 win. In Race 2, it all fell apart. He fell in the sand section and damaged his bike, finishing last in that race. The final event of the night for the 250s provided only a 13th-place finish, leaving Hampshire deep in the points.

Cameron McAdoo hard crash in qualification, which was scary news for a team that has seen three of their riders sidelined with injury. McAdoo was never quite able to get his rhythm with an 8-7-5.

2023 Race Recaps

San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Anaheim 2 coverage

Power Rankings Week 2
SuperMotocross tightens playoff schedule
Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence go two-for-two in San Diego
Results and points after San Diego
Seth Hammaker to miss 250 E season opener with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner with injury
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX