Andretti Autosport, Rahal Letterman Lanigan announce new sponsors

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Andretti Autosport and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing made sponsorship announcements on Wednesday.

Andretti Autosport announced the expansion of an existing partnership with U.S. based food corporation Butterball.

Butterball, which accounts for about 20 percent of turkey production in the U.S., will be a season-long sponsor on the No. 28 Honda of 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, the team said in a media release.

This will mark the third consecutive season that Butterball has partnered with Andretti Autosport.

In addition, the No. 27 Honda of Marco Andretti will carry Butterball sponsorship for the 2016 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, as well as the 100th running of the legendary Indianapolis 500.

“We’re really pleased to welcome back Butterball for a third-consecutive season,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a media release. “The expanded partnership gives Butterball a place in history as we celebrate a significant season of Indy car racing. Not only are we proud to have Butterball on the cars – but we’re thrilled to have their quality turkey on our hospitality menu!”

As for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, it announced Fifth Third Bank has joined as an associate sponsor for the No. 15 Verizon IndyCar Series ride of Graham Rahal.

“I’m very pleased that we have entered into this partnership with Fifth Third Bank,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan.  “Fifth Third Bank is a major force in the banking industry in the Midwest and is known as one of the top banking institutions in the industry.

“It’s only fitting to come together for these great races and especially the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.”

In addition to sponsoring the younger Rahal, Fifth Third Bank is planning additional specific initiatives for the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Florida, as well as the Indianapolis 500, Detroit and Mid-Ohio.

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”