Two days after acknowledging that it had granted longtime driver Tony Kanaan permission to talk with other prospective employers, due to the loss of its primary sponsorship from 7-Eleven, Andretti Autosport announced Wednesday that IZOD will not renew its contract as the primary sponsor of the team's No. 37 Dallara-Honda IndyCar, driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay. The team says it has other options to replace IZOD, and indicated it is intent on keeping Hunter-Reay – winner at Long Beach this season – in the fold for 2011.
"Andretti Autosport is grateful for the support provided by Phillips-Van Heusen while introducing Ryan Hunter-Reay as an instant fit within our organization," said John Lopes, Andretti Autosport's chief marketing officer. "We notified our sponsor family late last week that Ryan's primary sponsorship was open for 2011 and 2012, and we have already received one offer."
On the strength of his Long Beach win and runner-up finish in the season-opening race in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Hunter-Reay's season was expanded from a scheduled three events to full-time status when Andretti Autosport's sponsors rallied behind Hunter-Reay. Overall, he scored three podium places, six top-five and 12 top-10 finishes.
"Putting together a proper full-season IndyCar budget these days typically takes multiple sponsor partners working together with the team and its fellow sponsors," Lopes added. "Putting the puzzle together takes time, but Ryan may well be the most in-demand driver in our sport right now and we are fortunate that he brought all the right stuff to the team, and lots of key people noticed.
"We agreed to a new contract with Ryan the evening prior to this year's Indianapolis 500 and now it is the team's job to pull the details together quickly in order to put that contract into effect."