INDYCAR – SSM Engineer Leaves for Andretti

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Curt Cavin reported yesterday that Alex Tagliani’s race engineer Allen McDonald had left his current SSM operation in favor of a return to Andretti Autosport. McDonald has a history with Andretti including winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2007 with Dario Franchitti. It was also reported that both Andretti and McDonald wanted this deal which further prompted Sam Schmidt to make some rather pointed comments at Michael in regards to his Shanghai tactics. The fact of the matter is while I respect the hell out of Sam Schmidt, he does not really have any room to complain about this given the status of his team.

After Tom Anderson was shown the door from Andretti last month for a lack luster Indy 500 qualifying effort, we all knew that changes needed to be made and it needed to start at the engineering side. While releasing Tom may have been a bit premature, more engineering talent was needed no doubt. Enter McDonald who had just won the pole for Indianapolis. Why would an engineer of that caliber just leave a team for another? Money I’m sure had something to do with it, but at the end of the day it comes down to job security. SSM is on shaky ground whether one chooses to believe it or not. Andretti is established and has rather deep pockets. That was made clear when he purchased a car off the grid last month. SSM however has not gurantees with the #77  B&W machine.

Currently the team is financially stable through the Canadian rounds. After that, there is no guarantee of sponsorship or any money at all to keep the team afloat. It was announced that the #99 machine will more than likely see more on track action, but without the B&W money, one has to wonder how long that car will stay on the grid. From that point alone you cannot be upset at Allen for his choice. There is simply no job security at SSM until the sponsorship deal is sorted out on that car. Obviously given the current economic climate as well, there is just no guarantees with a small team. Andretti will continue to exist however and I’m sure eventually they too will see a return to form. It is just about acquiring the right pieces. I think they call it running a business…

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