Michael Andretti has completed dealings with former team co-owners Kevin Savoree and Kim Green. As was announced previously, Michael Andretti is now the sole owner of Andretti Autosport, while Green and Savoree have taken over ownership of what was previously Andretti Green Promotions which promotes the Toronto and St. Petersburg IndyCar races.
Andretti says that they will stick with a four driver lineup next year, but we await official announcements of who all of those drivers will be. Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti are locked in with the newly named team. Danica has reportedly signed a 3-year contract with the team, but official announcements have not been made to that effect yet. There is a bit of mystery surrounding the 4th seat which belonged to Hideki Mutoh in 2009. Again, media reports place Ryan Hunter-Reay in that seat with help from Izod.
Many of the comments made by Michael over the last few months lead us to speculate that the promotions group was taking a lot of energy away from the racing operations. While it would be silly to blame their fall from “superteam” status on that one thing, it certainly could be one of the many factors. Still, I can’t imagine that they would end up overnight becoming a better team because of a refocus on racing priorities.
AGR’s fall from the top started when Honda became the sole engine supplier to the series, allowing Ganassi and Penske to switch away from the dog Toyota engine. On top of that, veteran drivers such as Brian Herta and Dario Franchitti moved away from the team leaving Tony Kanaan to do the bulk of car setups for struggling newcomers Marco, Danica and Hideki.
2010 may prove to be a hallmark year for the team though. The team managed to retain Tony Kanaan going into the 2009 season, despite attempts by Ganassi to lure him away. Danica Patrick proved to be a very competitive and smart driver this year, showing great improvement. And the potential of bringing Ryan Hunter-Reay into the stable for 2010 adds another veteran driver with wins in IRL, CCWS and CART.
It is also worth mentioning that their potential driver lineup would be 3/4 American drivers which might be able to draw some more sponsorship to the team, along with the news of the IZOD title sponsorship for the series.
Now that the team ownership is cleared up and the new team name has been announced, we should soon start hearing official announcements from Danica Patrick and hopefully Ryan Hunter-Reay.