Marco Andretti to have ‘enhanced role’ with No. 98 team in 2019

Bryan Herta and Marco Andretti will be working even closer in 2019. Photo: Andretti Autosport
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In a sense, IndyCar driver Marco Andretti will be wearing a management hat under his racing helmet during the upcoming 2019 IndyCar Series season.

Andretti Autosport announced Thursday that the grandson of legendary Mario Andretti and son of team primary owner Michael Andretti will take “an enhanced role in the No. 98 team’s entry” in 2019.

As a result, the team is changing its name to Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti and Curb-Agajanian.

“I’m happy and proud to invest back into the team that I have been with for 13 seasons and counting,” Marco Andretti said in a media release. “I truly believe this is the best team out there and I’m looking forward to a fun, competitive future with the U.S. Concrete No. 98 family.”

The third-generation Andretti family racer’s enhanced role will not be as a part-owner, but rather as a “partner,” according to a team spokesperson, meaning that in addition to racing, he’ll likely also be more involved in the business and management side of the No. 98 team.

“I’m proud to see Marco looking beyond the racing seat and taking a vested interest in not just his car entry, but the future of motorsport that can one day take him beyond his driving career,” Michael Andretti said. “Marco has many driving years ahead of him and many victories yet to come but is continuing to see the big picture of racing and that will in turn make him a stronger competitor all around.”

Andretti finished ninth in the 2018 IndyCar Series standings, his best season finish since back-to-back ninth-place finishes in 2014 and 2015. His best finishes in 2018 were fourth  at Belle Isle I (where he also earned his first pole since 2013) and fifth in the season-ending race at Sonoma.

Andretti Autosport will return for 2019 with its driving lineup intact from 2018, with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and Zach Veach, in addition to Marco in the satellite Andretti Herta Autosport w/ Marco Andretti & Curb-Agajanian entry.

The 2019 IndyCar Series opens March 10 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

Hawkins Supercross
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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.