Photo: Grace Autosport

Report: Grace Autosport close to engine deal for Indy 500

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Beth Paretta’s Grace Autosport team targeted early March as a date to secure its engine lease for the Indianapolis 500.

If it’s done in mid-to-late February, it would put the team ahead of schedule.

Paretta, speaking on Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick, would hope to announce an engine deal shortly for the race.  The full interview is here, hosted by Bill Benner.

Dick noted it would be a Chevrolet, although a tweet he’d posted about that has since been deleted.

Once an engine deal would be confirmed, it would answer one of the outstanding questions for the team, and the number of engine leases likely available, ahead of the 100th running of the race.

If it’s Chevrolet, in looking at the number of Chevrolet teams, Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing are already at four cars, KVSH Racing has two cars accounted for (KVSH Racing for Sebastien Bourdais and PIRTEK Team Murray for Matthew Brabham), Ed Carpenter Racing also has two set (Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter) and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has a single car for Sage Karam.

Meanwhile on the Honda side, extra cars could be available from A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports or Andretti Autosport, each of whom have fielded extra cars for the race in the past. Dale Coyne Racing is expected to field a four-car lineup.

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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