Wayne Taylor says Andretti brings technology, tools and possibility for second car in GTP


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The epiphany came with forceful and searing clairty when Wayne Taylor decided on adding Michael Andretti as a partner in his championship-caliber sports car team.

During an offseason test of the new hybrid prototype that will make its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, there were 91 people (among his team, Honda Performance Development and support staff) attending to the No. 10 Acura ARX-06.

As Taylor wandered the pit lane at Daytona International Speedway, he saw similar armies furiously tuning on high-tech, big-budget cars representing rival brands (Porsche, BMW and Cadillac) and formidable teams (Ganassi, Penske, Rahal).

Taylor called Andretti after the test and had the framework of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport done within a week.

“Michael had approached me early in (2022) about getting together, and I didn’t think the timing was right at that point, and we continued to talk through the course of the year,” Taylor told NBC Sports. “And once we started getting the cars and the components and saw what everybody else was doing, it became clear to me that we had to step up to the next level to have a partnership with someone who could bring a lot to the table.

“I thought this was a great partnership that could work. Michael has been so good at this thing so far. And his two directors, Rob Edwards and J.F. Thormann, it’s as if we’ve been together for more than a year already, and we have access to all the tools and technology they have. They don’t only do IndyCar, they do Formula E and many, many different things around the world. And so being part of it brings a lot of value to us at Wayne Taylor Racing, HPD, ORECA and everyone associated.”

For Andretti, who has been open about his ambition to field cars in virtually every major racing series in the world, the new deal filled a gap

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“There’s no secret that was one thing missing from our racing portfolio was racing in IMSA,” he said. “It was the perfect time to get involved. The question is how you get involved. We just were being very patient looking for the right opportunity. I got the call from Wayne, (and) you can’t get into the sport any better than a team like Wayne Taylor Racing, so it’s one of those marriages made in heaven. It’s been a lot of fun. We’re really excited about this program and the future of it and growing it.”

Announced Dec. 28, the rebranded team officially made its debut last weekend with Michael Andretti attending Rolex 24 qualifying and returning for the race. But its actual impact will be very gradual.

Taylor’s operation will remain at its Brownsburg, Indiana, shop for at least the next two years before moving into Andretti Global’s new 525,000-square-foot headquarters that is scheduled to open in 2025.

The No. 10 Acura ARX-06 will be driven by Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz and Brendon Hartley in the Rolex 24 at Daytona (IMSA).

Taylor said Andretti mostly will provide equipment and technical support in the meantime without affecting the day-to-day operations of WTR.

“The great thing is they’ve said consistently they want us to carry on running it the way we have,” Taylor said. “Whatever help we need, we ask for and get. They don’t want to come try to reinvent the wheel. So they’re coming down for the Roar and the race, but they’re going to leave us to do our job.

“We’re going to run out of our premises for ’23 and ’24, and then when their new facility comes in 2025, we’ll move into that shop and obviously will be a lot closer then. But we are already working together with them with machining and people. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes.”

WTR might need help in the GTP era, but its past success in IMSA is unquestioned. The team has won the Rolex 24 four times in the past six years and finished second in the DPi category the past three seasons after winning the inaugural title in 2017. It’s also won the prestigious endurance races at Sebring Raceway and Michelin Road Atlanta.

But No. 10 WTR driver Ricky Taylor (whom RACER reported will get an IndyCar test soon with Andretti) could see his father’s organization would benefit from a broader knowledge base and technical wherewithal.

“As we went in the new GTP era, the level of competition had just gone up like crazy from Porsche Penske to BMW to Cadillac,” Ricky Taylor told NBC Sports. “Everybody’s raised their game. So as Acura and HPD and WTR has always been one to pivot very well and adapt to change and pivot around new rulesets, new strategies, new tires, new cars. And to supplement what Wayne Taylor Racing does very well, partnering with Andretti Autosport, such a well-storied and experienced organization, is very exciting from a driver’s perspective.

“We’re going to be surrounded by the best. Wayne Taylor Racing brings a lot in terms of its sports car racing pedigree, but from a lot of other angles, Andretti Autosport brings a whole new level as well. It all seemed to happen very quickly, but it’s very exciting at the same time to have that sort of security and resources in such a big organization. The blend of the team has been really smooth so far.”

Wayne Taylor indicated before Rolex 24 qualifying Sunday that aligning with Andretti increases the likelihood that he will field a second Acura in GTP next year.

“Obviously, Michael’s group and us will discuss all of those things,” he said. “Clearly, our motivation is to be a two-car program next year. There’s no doubt about that.”

But if such a move happens, it won’t have been a Honda-influenced decision (as has been the case with many rivals whose agendas are being driven by manufacturers).

“HPD really had nothing to do with it,” Andretti said about partnering with Taylor. “We did the deal and then we told HPD afterward. We’ve been looking at sports cars the last three years (asking) how do you get in, and this opportunity came up. It was just a no-brainer. To come with a team that has won so many times, what a great way to get right into it. Our plan is to let them do their job and just be here to support.”

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
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It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway