IndyCar Teams Work To Ensure Presence For Sponsors In Indy 500
Izod IndyCar Series teams are "willing to find a way to make up for cars that don't qualify" for the Indianapolis 500 since sponsors are "paying big money for an appearance in the big race," according to Kathleen McLaughlin of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay is replacing Bruno Junqueira in A.J. Foyt Racing's No. 41 Honda for Sunday's race, and sources said that the Andretti team "paid $200,000 to $250,000 for the ride from Foyt." Former IndyCar driver Derek Daly said that DHL's "clout as a sponsor was a major factor in the deal." Daly added that as a "season-long sponsor, the global shipping company probably covers 40 percent of Hunter-Reay's program, which would have a total budget" of $7-10M. McLaughlin reported the No. 41 car "will retain Foyt's signature Coyote Red paint color and still promote Foyt sponsors ABC Supply and Alfe Heat Treating," but also will "promote DHL, Sun Drop and other Andretti sponsors." This season marks DHL's "first as an IndyCar series sponsor," and Daly said that the deal for Hunter-Reay to participate Sunday will give the company "reason to stick with Andretti next year." Daly added that he "wouldn't be surprised if the sponsors of another Andretti driver who didn't qualify, Mike Conway, ended up on the Foyt car as well." Conway's sponsors for the race were scheduled to be Hire Heroes USA and 7-Eleven. McLaughlin noted one sponsor that "needed to find a new team was Fuzzy's Vodka, which backed the car that Patrick Carpentier of Dragon Racing crashed last weekend." Fuzzy's "quickly jumped to Panther Racing driver Buddy Rice, who qualified seven." Conquest Racing driver Sebastian Saavedra did not qualify for the race after the team "drew some affiliate sponsors, including the Conrad Indianapolis, just for the 500." But Conquest driver Pippa Mann's entry Sunday "will promote the Conrad" (IBJ.com, 5/25).
CASHING IN WHILE SHE STILL CAN: Driver Danica Patrick reportedly is planning to race a full-time NASCAR schedule beginning next season, and YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Hart wrote, "If the future were up to Danica the Racer, chances are she'd stay right where she is, racing in IndyCar and focusing all her energy on the thing that matters most to her as a competitor: winning the Indianapolis 500. But Danica the brand says go south, young lady, to the land of NASCAR and those extra zeroes before the decimal point." IMG, which reps Patrick, "undoubtedly ... has made it known that the clock is ticking on her ability to command top dollar from potential sponsors" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/25).