Motorola to Back Patrick in 2007

September 16th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Motorola to Back Patrick in 2007

RacingOne Report

Two days after completing her five-year association with Rahal Letterman Racing, IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick opened a new chapter with Andretti Green Racing.

With the announcement of her team’s Motorola title sponsorship package and the unveiling of her 2007 black and blue Honda-powered Dallara, the 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year said she’s looking forward to the next step in her IndyCar Series career. Argent Mortgage, XM Satellite Radio, and AirTran Airways are associate sponsors.

“Someone referred to (the car’s colors) as the Batmobile, which was fast,” said Patrick, who drove a street-legal replica of the car on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue before the announcement in an art gallery. “It’s black with that little bit of blue. It’s a hot car and will pop on the track like no other. It will look good in first place.”

Patrick completed her second IndyCar Series season with a 12th place in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean on Sept. 10 at Chicagoland Speedway. While she said the day was bittersweet, she’s looking forward to new challenges.

“It’s something new, and change is good,” she said. “But I'm going to miss not being able to see some of the guys as much as I do driving for (Rahal Letterman Racing). I’ll always be grateful for the things Bobby and everybody at the team has done to help me and my career, and give me the best car possible.

She will join a team that produced two of the past three series champions (Dan Wheldon in 2005 and Tony Kanaan in 2004). Wheldon left last November to join Target Chip Ganassi Racing for this season, and Patrick will join Kanaan and Marco Andretti, this season’s Bombardier Rookie of the Year, as drivers confirmed for ’07.

“It’s a huge step for me to be joining such a successful team whose only goal is to win races,” Patrick said. “I’m greatly honored.”

Patrick caught the attention of veteran open-wheel driver and team co-owner Michael Andretti with her four-lap qualifying run that resulted in a second-row starting position in her inaugural ‘500.’ She backed up the effort with a scintillating run, becoming the first female to lead a lap in “the Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” and finished fourth.

“I really like her attitude,” said Andretti, who finished third in the 90th 500-Mile Race in May. “I thought, ‘Man, I’d like to have her on my team one day.’ I really didn’t believe that it would happen. I was really surprised Bobby didn’t sign her after the Indy 500 that year.”

When the opportunity arose, AGR principals sprung into action.

“When she came to us and said she was available, we said, ‘Well, we’d love to have you drive with us. Really, we got the deal done pretty quickly because both sides really wanted it to happen.”

Andretti said the combination of experience and communication will go a long way in returning the team to prominence. Kanaan (Milwaukee) and Marco Andretti (Infineon) recorded the only victories for AGR.

“What’s going to put all of them in Victory Lane next year is working together,” Andretti said. “I stressed that to Danica, and I think she realizes it. With them and the fourth guy we’re going to have in a car, it’s going to be a really good, tight team.

“But we have a lot of work to do over the winter. We’re going to maximize our time to try to catch up to the (Marlboro Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing) red cars. We have a lot of ideas on how to do it; we just needed time. To do it in the middle of the season you can’t. But now that we have time when we’re putting a lot of programs together, hopefully we’ll have it figured out by the time we get to Homestead next year.”

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