What’s going on in the IndyCar Paddock at Mid-Ohio

Leave a comment

STEAM CORNERS, Ohio – As Alexander Rossi’s future may be determined soon, there are several other developments in the INDYCAR paddock of tremendous interest at Mid-Ohio.

Andretti Autosport has scheduled a “Driver Media Availability” for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Watch Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio live on NBC at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

Once Rossi’s future is announced, the focus will shift to 19-year-old driver Colton Herta at Harding Steinbrenner Racing. Earlier this week, NBC Sports.com reported that George Michael Steinbrenner, IV and his stepfather Sean Jones indicated their partnership with team principal Mike Harding was not solidified for next season. In fact, both said there are as many as “five or six” different options that could see them involved with during the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season.

The son of New York Yankees co-owner and chairman Hank Steinbrenner and the grandson of Yankees patriarch George Steinbrenner, he has been a loyal and supportive partner of Herta through the junior ranks of racing. Jones and Steinbrenner were hoping his involvement in the NTT IndyCar Series would help entice potential sponsors to the operation.

None of the money to help support Harding Steinbrenner Racing is coming from the Yankees or its sponsors.

The team has struggled to attract a big-time sponsor, despite signing GESS International – a bio fuels company – and Capstone Turbines for this year’s Indianapolis 500 and the races that followed.

According the Harding Steinbrenner Racing president Brian Barnhart, the team needs additional funding, either through additional sponsorship or with another team owner getting involved in the team.

Michael Andretti is also heavily involved in Herta’s future with the team. His father, Bryan Herta, is co-owner of the No. 98 Honda along with driver Marco Andretti and Michael Andretti. Herta’s contract is owned by Andretti, which sublet him to Harding in a “junior team” partnership.

If Harding Steinbrenner Racing has financial issues and is unable to continue, Andretti’s options could be to expand his car lineup to five cars or align with another existing IndyCar team. Andretti is trying to firm up those details with Harding Steinbrenner.

Friday night practice for the INDYCAR Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway.

When Colton Herta won the March 24 INDYCAR Classic at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), he was just 10 days short of his 19thbirthday making him the youngest driver ever to win an IndyCar Series contest.

At one time, Team Penske appeared to be a strong candidate to make a big for Rossi, but that team could focus on Herta as its driver of the future. In order to do that, however, team owner Roger Penske would have to expand to four full-time entries in the NTT IndyCar Series in 2020. That appears unlikely at this time, but stranger things have happened.

Also, there is news circulating that McLaren’s Zak Brown is determined to create a full-time NTT IndyCar Series team and has made several offers to buy existing teams in the series. Once again, that is complicated because McLaren’s departure from Honda after the 2017 season was so acrimonious, that Honda officials in Japan have prohibited Honda Performance Development from doing business with a McLaren effort in IndyCar.

McLaren attempted to make the field for the 103rdIndianapolis 500 with two-time Formula One World champion Fernando Alonso this past May but failed to make the 33-car starting lineup.

Brown spoke to Formula One media members Friday in Hockenheim, Germany – site of this weekend’s Grand Prix of Germany.

“Indy is still very much a work in progress,” Brown told reporters. “We learned a lot on what not to do this year at Indy. That was a rude awakening.

“I made a lot of mistakes in how I put that together. The reasons we want to go to Indy remain. That doesn’t change. When you have a failure, you need to learn from it and grow. The easy thing is to not get back on the horse. But you can’t do that in life. I think you’ve got to dust yourself down and get back on the horse.

“So that is under active review. We would do it differently, needless to say, to how we did it this year. And if we did it, I’d be more inclined to look to do it on a full-time basis than a one-off. I think having tried that, that’s a pretty tall order. Or certainly to go at it by yourself, I think is too tall an order.”

Brown would like to do a full season in IndyCar, but Alonso is not interested in anything other than the Indianapolis 500.

“I’d love to have him involved in an IndyCar program if we were to do it and he wants to do it,” Brown said. “He’s undecided on what he wants to do next year. This is the first time in 17-18 years he doesn’t have a calendar filled with racing, so I think he needs to take the summer break to kind of reconcile in his own mind what he wants to do. But if he wants to go IndyCar racing and we were to do it, of course he’d be top of our list.

“He’s told me he doesn’t want to do a full season. But let’s see what happens when he’s at home for two weekends consecutively not driving a racing car for the first time in 20 years. Personally, I think he would enjoy IndyCar racing.

“He has told me at this point that he doesn’t [want to do a full season]. He knows the commitment it would take. You’ve got to move to America and Fernando’s an all-in or all-out guy as you all know. It’s more a function of he has been racing that long and does he want to take a little bit of time off and figure out what he wants to do.”

Also, Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull told NBC Sports.com that rookie driver Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden will be back next season. The future for another driver from Sweden, Marcus Ericsson of Arrow Schmidt Peterson, is uncertain as he continues to negotiate for a second season with the team.

Arrow Schmidt Peterson will be testing IMSA World Endurance driver Felipe Nasr of Brazil on Monday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Nasr is the current IMSA Sports Car champion and won the 2019 12 Hours of Sebring.

There remain many moving pieces in place in IndyCar as the series heads into Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

MotoGP champion Marc Marquez has second surgery on fractured arm

MotoGP Marc Marquez second surgery
JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Defending MotoGP series champion Marc Marquez underwent a second surgery Monday after a titanium plate inserted in his fractured right arm sustained damage. The Repsol Honda Team said in a statement that it’ll be two days before the recovery period is determined.

Marquez was injured during a crash in the July 19 season opener. He underwent an initial surgery July 21 in Barcelona, and doctors said there was no nerve damage.

The eight-time champion was cleared to race in the season’s second event Jerez. But Marquez decided to skip the July 26 race after experiencing discomfort while riding the No. 93 bike in a July 25 practice.

MOTOGP ON NBCHow to watch the 2020 season

He had planned to race in Sunday’s grand prix at the Automotodrom Brno in the Czech Republic in hopes of returning to defend his title. His status for Sunday apparently will be unclear until at least Wednesday.

In a statement Monday, the team said the titanium plate in Marquez’s right arm successfully was replaced after stress accumulation. Marquez will stay in the hospital for two days recovering.

Dr Xavier Mir, who performed the surgery at the Hospital Universitari Dexeus, said in the release that “Marc Marquez underwent surgery 13 days ago and today he returned to the operating room. The first operation was successful, what was not expected was that the plate was insufficient. An accumulation of stress in the operated area has caused the plate to suffer some damage, so today the titanium plate has been removed and replaced by a new fixation.

“The rider has not felt pain during this period. He has always followed the medical advice given and the feeling from his body. Unfortunately, an overstress has caused this issue. Now we have to wait 48 hours to understand the recovery time.”