Confirming rumors that circulated over the weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Andretti Autosport announced Monday that 7-Eleven was withdrawing its primary sponsorship of the team's No. 11 IZOD IndyCar Series entry beyond 2010. The convenience store chain will continue as an associate sponsor on the team's No. 7 driven by Danica Patrick next year.
"We are confirming today that 7-Eleven will not be returning as the primary sponsor of the 11 car next season," the team's senior VP and chief marketing officer, John Lopes, said in a statement. "We are thankful for their many years of support and are proud of all we accomplished together.
Kanaan has three years remaining on his contract with the team, reportedly worth $3m per season, and Lopes said the team remains hopeful that it will be able to keep the Brazilian on its strength. However, he confirmed that the veteran Kanaan has been granted permission to consider other opportunities.
"Our hope is to have Tony Kanaan and the 11 car as part of our IZOD IndyCar Series lineup again in 2011 and we are currently working very hard to find the necessary sponsorship to make that a reality," Lopes added. "In the meantime and although he remains under contract with Andretti Autosport, we have given Tony and his management the permission to talk with other IndyCar team owners to explore what other alternatives might be available at this time."
Since joining the Andretti squad as it moved from Champ Car to the Indy Racing League in '03, Kanaan has taken 14 race wins and claimed the 2004 series title. He was the highest-placed Andretti driver in this year's championship, in which he finished sixth.