Ricciardo, Red Bull, Austin

Ricciardo, Red Bull, Austin

Daniel Ricciardo hopes Mercedes potentially running its Formula 1 engine conservatively could help Red Bull during the Mexican Grand Prix weekend.

Following Lewis Hamilton's engine failure while leading the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier this month, Mercedes ran its power units in a mode team boss Toto Wolff initially called not "as spicy" as before.

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After coming close to splitting the two Mercedes drivers at Austin last weekend, only to lose second place thanks to the timing of the virtual safety car, Ricciardo believes capitalizing on such conservatism might be his team's best hope.

"The last few races, they've been running a bit conservative, I don't know if that plays a role [here]," said Ricciardo. "If they have to be a bit conservative here, that's good news for us.

"I know we're better off this year than we were last year [with the turbo speed] but I don't know if that's going to mean a few concerns for Mercedes."

The Australian is one of many drivers eager to evaluate the changed grip levels available during Friday practice.

The track was newly-laid last year, and many expect the grip to have increased since, even with teams having relatively low downforce levels thanks to the low air density in high-altitude Mexico City.

"I'm curious to know what the grip's like," said Ricciardo. "Last year, it was a bit frustrating, the level of grip, and it was really hard to find a balance.

"You just had to make do with a pretty badly-balanced car, but this year we should be able to get a bit more out of it. If there is more grip, then it should allow us to run the downforce we want and use the Red Bull strengths."


Ricciardo, podium, Austin

Ricciardo and teammate Max Verstappen have the potential to be "spoilers" in the world championship fight, particularly should points leader Nico Rosberg finish behind one or both of them.

But the Australian insists that this is not a concern.

"I'm aware of it, but come Sunday it's completely not in my mind," said Ricciardo of being a championship battle spoiler.

"Whether me getting a good result changes the balance of their championship, it's still not my business or my doing.

"It's just me trying to do what I can in the car. I'll try and get as many points as I can."

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SNE15879I'd had a few. OK, more than a few. I took the largest bill I had out of my wallet and slapped Benjamin Franklin's face onto the top of the piano.

"What do you want to sing?"

"No idea," I replied.

It was at this point that I thought it would be a good idea to invite someone on stage to help me. Someone the tremendous crowd would actually be interested in. I'd seen the two championship protagonists enter the bar about an hour earlier; one celebrating his third world title, the other commiserating a second championship loss to his teammate. I picked up the microphone and gave them both a shoutout. And yet it wasn't the jubilant, triumphant man with a passion for music who ran down the stairs and bounded on stage. It was Nico Rosberg (BELOW).

We sang Bon Jovi. Badly.

Downtown Austin has set itself quite a reputation for producing memorable moments in its five-year F1 history. And most of them revolve around Pete's Duelling Piano Bar. A year before Nico and my duet, Geri Horner (Halliwell at the time) had jumped on stage for an unforgettable rendition of The Spice Girls' debut, Wannabe.

"Sunday night - you're going to be there right?" Nico asked me on his way to the Drivers' Briefing last Friday.

"I can't, I'm flying home!"

"But... wait... but... who am I going to sing with? You have to come!"

"Sorry chap, I've got three rare days with my daughter and she wins."

image001I landed back in London on Monday to see a video of Nico back up on the stage at Pete's, this time joined by Esteban Ocon. Huge grins. Huge crowd. Same Bon Jovi song. Sung just as badly. A fine tradition to maintain.

I allowed myself a warm smile. But at the same time my heart sank. Where is this guy when you want to show him to the world? Over the course of a race weekend, why can't Nico ever just be Nico?

It's the inherent paradox of Nico Rosberg and the entire 2016 season, that try as one might it's really rather hard to get overly excited about the German or the prospect of him taking the crown.

This is, let's not forget, a guy who has won nine races in 2016. Only Nigel Mansell, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher have equalled that tally. Only the latter three have exceeded it. Should Rosberg win all the remaining races of the season he'd slide into second in the all-time list for wins in a year.

There's few who would argue he doesn't deserve the crown. He's driven brilliantly. Sure Barcelona and Austria still stick in the craw as unnecessary blunders that could serve to take some of the shine off what otherwise could have been seen as a performance verging on the phenomenal, but when one looks at the raw statistics, he's done a very impressive job.

But does he excite? Is there any real reflection of love for the guy as a potential champion?

The feeling from within the paddock, even from his own national journalists and reporters is that no, Nico Rosberg as a champion or otherwise just isn't interesting enough. He doesn't have the following or popularity of a Schumacher or Vettel. He doesn't engage.

There's always been a belief in his adopted home nation that Rosberg is a "plastic German," someone who is perhaps more identifiable as a European than as a man of any distinct country. But it can't just be his worldliness that leads to this disconnect. Surely a rounded young man who speaks numerous languages and can converse fluently and engagingly in them all would connect with people around the world.

His problem, rather, seems to me to lie in his perceived sincerity. Or the total lack of it.

His victorious post-race radio calls with engineer Tony Ross became internet sensations this year for their lack of any perceptible emotion. It all sounded so forced, so unnatural. Even on that magnificent podium in Monza, towering over one of the largest throngs of Formula 1 fanatics in the world, Rosberg's attempts to rally the Italians, in their native tongue, into singing The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," the unofficial anthem of the Azzurri, Italy's national soccer team, fell flat.


For as well natured as the sentiment was from Rosberg's side, one couldn't watch without cringing. The emotion just came across as forced. Insincere. Plastic.

It's the same veneer that cloaks him in front of the cameras. I've long held the belief that Nico Rosberg is too intelligent for his own good, and regards interviews not as a time for openness and expression, but as a battle of wits. As the interviewer you have the control of the questions, and thus the situation. But Rosberg despises being on the back foot. His awkwardness with an interviewer, his clipped answers, attempts to make the person holding the microphone doubt themselves, is his chance to wrest control back into his own hands.

And yet only ever does it make him look and sound detached and arrogant.

Lewis Hamilton has been roundly lambasted for his approach in recent press conferences. And yet Rosberg's boredom with the questions he is asked comes not in the form of diverting his attentions to Snapchat, but instead with producing banal, curt answers, almost huffed out in frustrated tones.

 ONY9000It's just so difficult to get a read on the guy. Who he really is. What really makes him tick. Just to try and break through that veneer, crack through the plastic and get down to the real Rosberg. Perhaps that's the fault of we as interviewers. It could be argued we should ask better questions. But for a decade we have tried. We've approached from every angle. We've done all we can to get down to the man he is. And we've failed.

He's the complete opposite of a driver like Daniel Ricciardo, who is so honest and such an open book that his PR people can often be seen recoiling in horror as he sends himself down a path from which he can't retreat. He'll suddenly realise his mistake, look at the increasingly puce face of his PR guy, the rage shaking through the Dictaphone, laugh and remark, "I think I'm going to be in trouble for that."

Don't mistake this for a dig at Rosberg. It's absolutely not. It's just desperately frustrating to know that underneath the perfect front that he is trying to portray, there exists a really good man who is witty and emotional, a family man with a young child, a man who understands so much about the world and his place within it.

But his very conscious efforts to try and close off his private side whilst at the same time being all things to all people, from fans to the media, leaves one asking that same question that has dogged him since I first met him 11 years ago. Who is he? Who is he really?

The German could be crowned Formula 1 World Champion this weekend. And I'm dreading it. Because I'm so worried that the immensity of the occasion will be countered with another moment of seemingly forced emotion.

Could you imagine him collapsing to the ground under the weight of the enormity of what he's achieved? His lip quaking on the podium as tears stream down his face, unable to muster the strength to even lift his trophy?

Neither can I. And that's really quite sad. Because you can bet everything that it will mean the world to him.

Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps finally proving the doubters wrong, stepping out of the shadow of his father and beating a driver in Lewis Hamilton to whom he has played second fiddle since the age of 14, will break down the protective walls he has built up over a lifetime of expectations and pressure.

I hope so.

Because up on that stage, with a few beers in his belly and a song in his heart, the real Nico Rosberg is a genuinely great guy. I just wish the world got to see it more often.


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ORECA 07 testing

French constructor ORECA has unveiled its 2017 LMP2 contender after a successful first shakedown of the car.

The new ORECA 07, powered by the one-make Gibson V8 engine, undertook its first runs at Paul Ricard on Wednesday and Thursday with Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel.

The car is based on the monocoque of the organisation's existing 05 P2 car but, according to technical director David Floury, incorporates "radically different aero as well as significantly increased efficiency and downforce.".

ORECA has revealed that the car is significantly below the 930kg (2,000-pound) minimum weight for the new P2 class and therefore carries substantial ballast.

ORECA 07 testing

Floury described the shakedown as successful and said no problems had been encountered.

"It's phase one of the program, but an important and really positive one," he said. "The level of performance reached during these test days is exactly the one we hoped during simulation, so the car's potential is extremely interesting."

Former Toyota LMP1 factory driver Lapierre, who is leading the World Endurance Championship P2 points with the Signatech Alpine squad, claimed that the new car "represents a significant step forward from the ORECA 05."

"We've just kept running without any trouble and that was a really good working session," he added.

The ORECA is the third of the four constructors licensed to build cars to next year's new P2 rule book to reach the track after Dallara and Onroak Automotive with the latest Ligier.

Owners of ORECA 05s will be able to build up their cars into 07-spec around their existing monocoques.

ORECA 07 testing

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Max Verstappen plans to stop speaking his mind over team radio during Formula 1 races, because he feels the broadcasts make him sound "a bit arrogant."

Verstappen responded to a reminder from Red Bull to conserve tires during a chase of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes in the recent United States Grand Prix by saying: "I'm not here to finish fourth," which was broadcast on F1's live world TV feed.

Like F1 rivals Romain Grosjean and Fernando Alonso, Verstappen feels his messages are being targeted specifically for broadcasts, and that those transmissions are misrepresenting his true feelings.

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"All the time when I press my radio button it's broadcast, and sometimes it sounds a bit arrogant  especially 'I'm not here to finish fourth,'" Verstappen explained. "But that's just what comes up in my mind.

"I'm not there to finish fourth; I'm there to win, as a racer. On the radio it sounds like I'm arrogant and not listening to the team, but that's not my message to the team.

"It's better to say; "yes, no, OK", for now. Some [fans] do love it, some don't, so it's better I don't say anything so you have no discussions."

Verstappen's impatience behind Rosberg was criticized by Red Bull boss Helmut Marko after the race, but when asked whether he needs to find a better balance between aggression and patience in races, Verstappen said he was personally "more or less" happy with his current approach.

"It's been going pretty well," he added. "You can always improve, that's what I'm always trying to achieve, but especially this season I've been pretty consistent.

"You have those moments [of criticism] in your career. I've had it many times with my dad. I was just trying to get past. That's how I did it with Kimi  I arrived and I got past. With Nico it just didn't really work out."

Verstappen retired from the Austin race with gearbox failure, after mistakenly pitting before his team was ready to receive him. He said this was the result of driving on "autopilot" rather than any specific miscommunication with Red Bull.

"After driving for an hour already you get into a comfort zone  you are a bit on autopilot," Verstappen said. "I saw Daniel box the lap before, so I thought I would box the next lap for my last stint.

"That's where it went wrong. I was maybe thinking a bit too much for myself. It happened, but it won't happen again."


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PP Blog LeadLeft to right: The May 1992 premiere issue of RACER, the September 2016 issue and our 24/7 news site:

Welcome to the first of my monthly blog posts covering what is happening in the world of RACER and racing in general. I hope you enjoy it and find the information useful. Twenty-five years ago this week, our team was preparing to launch RACER Magazine, which debuted in April 1992. None of us could have imagined how much the racing world and media landscape would change. George H. Bush was in the White House and the CART PPG IndyCar World Series was the leading form of racing in North America with Michael Andretti recently crowned as champion. Dale Earnhardt was NASCAR Winston Cup Series champ for the fifth time and Richard Petty was preparing for his final season as a driver. In Formula 1, Ayrton Senna and McLaren Honda reigned supreme, but rookie sensation Michael Schumacher was seen as the future of the sport.

Modern society's embrace of the internet was still a few years away. Conventional wisdom of the day was that racing publications needed to be weekly or biweekly and news-centric to succeed. But RACER debuted as a beautiful feature magazine that was different in every way. RACER wasn't about what happened, but instead, why it happened and what might come next. Today, after 281 issues, RACER still sets the pace for the industry in North America.

During the past quarter century, we've seen the fall of CART, the rise of NASCAR, five iterations of IMSA, the birth of social media and the disruption of traditional mass media. Experts say that one form of media being aided in this unprecedented turbulence is niche media aimed at categories driven by passion. Small is now the new big. RACER is surely benefiting from this phenomenon across all of our media and social media platforms.

As many of our readers and customers are aware, the founders re-acquired RACER in March, 2012 after an 11-year period of ownership by Haymarket Publishing. Here is a recap of what has happened to RACER's audience reach since that time (Note: all RACER media and social media properties are brand-audited by the BPA):

Brand Reach Chart
* Magazine Circulation reported from Jul-Dec 2015 BPA Brand Audit Report. 2016 BPA reports not yet available. All other info is from Google Analytics and social media channels that fall under the RACER brand BPA audit.

In addition to celebrating RACER's 25th Anniversary in April 2017, we will also celebrate's 20th Anniversary in May. Here is an traffic ranking in the United States for sites in our competitive set. This includes media sites with a high volume of consistent racing content as well as leading series and sanctioning body sites: United States Traffic Rankings Top 30 sites with extensive racing content as-of 10/23/16

1) Rank 1685
2) Rank 5823
3) Rank 6376
4) Rank 6394
5) Rank 7695
6) Rank 12,750
7) Rank 13,365
8) Rank 16,788
9) Rank 16,862
10) Rank 18,130
11) Rank 30,002
12) Rank: 36,049
13) Rank 47,530
14) Rank 49,869
15) Rank 52,774
16) Rank 60,120
17) Rank 67,990
18) Rank 94,932
19) Rank 97,709
20) Rank 105,555
21) Rank 113,525
22) Rank 118,341
23) Rank 119:729
24) Rank 136,219
25) Rank 138,053
26) Rank 143,203
27) Rank 167,879
28) Rank 225,912
29) Rank 280,603
30) Rank 376,720

To be fair, some racing series sites have ended their seasons so their traffic has dropped as a result. However, has been consistently ranked in the top four of this competitive set all year long. The racing season doesn't end when the last checkered flag falls. Racing fans, participants and industry insiders continue to engage in the sport all year round.

If you would like to know more about us, here is a link to RACER's advertiser resource site with information about the audiences for RACER magazine, and SportsCar magazine:

Haas Formula 1 driver Esteban Gutierrez is "strongly considering" alternative drives for 2017, in the wake of his current team's willingness to delay finalizing its line-up for next season.

Romain Grosjean is understood to have agreed a deal to remain with the fledgling American F1 squad for a second season, but Gutierrez has yet to agree terms. Team owner Gene Haas said ahead of last weekend's U.S. Grand Prix that he "wouldn't be surprised if we wait until the end of the season to make a decision," which leaves Gutierrez in an uncertain position.

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"Gene has been very clear in the media  they want to wait a few races," said Gutierrez, who says he has set a deadline of 14 days in which to resolve his future. "Fortunately we have other options, which we are now considering strongly.

"It will be important to close something soon, because we cannot just wait a few more races until the end of the season, and risk falling between two chairs. We're doing our best and things are looking very good for next season."

The Mexican driver has shown flashes of speed on his return to full-time F1 action this year, delivering Haas's breakthrough top-10 qualifying performance in September's Italian GP, but he has yet to score a point in 18 races, while Grosjean has amassed 29.

Renault's recent signing of Nico Hulkenberg from Force India has created a vacancy there, and Renault is yet to decide who his teammate should be. Manor and Gutierrez's former team Sauber also have seats available for next season.


Force India incumbent Sergio Perez said he would welcome a Mexican teammate for next year, but he believes finding a suitable replacement for Hulkenberg would be tough.

"A lot of the success the team has had is [down to] Nico and me pushing each other hard," he said. "From practice to the race, it's always been half a tenth. Having someone at the level of Nico is going to be difficult [to find].

"I just want someone who comes with the right attitude to help the team, that gives good feedback, that understands what is going on with the car, and hopefully can be fast and push me that would be great."


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16C 5878 1 2Just when you thought that the Verizon IndyCar Series had run out of ways to surprise, 2016 came along. The championship was won by a guy who looked all at sea 12 months earlier, his closest rival didn't even participate in the first race, and the winner of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was a recent F1 refugee who apparently figured out how to make a car work without fuel.

Twenty-four drivers made at least three starts during the 2016 season, and each one is a story. Join RACER each day as we retrace their journeys.



2016 Best result: 1st (Iowa)
2016 Championship position: 4th (502 points)


Newgarden impressed everyone in 2015, and in 2016 he managed to up his game again. Where did you see the most improvement?

MILLER: Taking what the car had that day and just driving smarter. He still did everything possibly to get to the front (and led 313 laps) but didn't force things, and the only mistake he made in competition all season came while driving with one hand at Toronto. But what really surfaced in 2016 was the kid's toughness after getting stuffed into the wall at Texas. He showed the kind of moxie that was common place in the '60s - driving through the pain - and that even impressed A.J.

PRUETT: Ovals, and qualifying. Josef made nine starts inside the top 10 which helped secure strong finishes in almost every instance, and barring Texas, oval finishes of sixth (Phoenix), third (Indy 500) and the double points that came with his stellar performance, a win (Iowa) and fourth (Pocono) meant he backed up a season filled with a bunch of solid road and street course performances. The kid used 2016 to prove he’s a threat to win at every track, and a new title contender.

Will leaving ECR for Team Penske be a blessing or a curse?

04CJ4270MILLER: More a curse to the series than Newgarden, because he and Graham Rahal were consistently nipping at the big dogs and now that balance of power has shifted even more with JoNew in the finest kennel. It was a cool story with Ed Carpenter's little All-American team, but during the past 50 years, moving in with Roger Penske has proven to be a winner for just about every driver, and this will blossom into another big success story.

PRUETT: A blessing. It just depends on the timing of its arrival. He’s seven years younger than Pagenaud, 10 years younger than Power, and Castroneves is 16 laps up on Tennessee’s finest IndyCar driver. Among the various reasons behind the signing, Penske sees this 25-year-old phenom as a long-term solution. The questions below delve into the reasons, so I won’t repeat them here, but Josef will either show he’s the heir to Castroneves and Power whenever they hang up their helmets, or Roger will give someone else a try if the results fail to appear. I can’t see how the marriage of Penske and Newgarden is anything other than an amazing success, so I anticipate the move being hailed as a blessing for both sides at some point in the near future.

Up until this point, he's been the primary focus of whatever team he has driven for. Will having to work amongst a group of all-stars be a culture shock?

MILLER: Not with Newgarden's temperament. He'll fit into any situation and be a sponge from his older teammates. He's only 25, but already knows how to play the game.

PRUETT: I sure hope so. That process is part of Josef’s evolution as a frontline IndyCar driver, and how he ends up handling the ferocious speed of an OCD all-star like Will Power, the silent assassin style of Simon Pagenaud, or the unflinching consistency of Helio Castroneves is possibly the biggest thread to follow in the Penske camp next year.

We know Newgarden has crazy speed, races as hard as any of the champions, and is still learning his craft. Being thrown into Roger’s lion’s den is where we’ll get so see what Josef is made of while under extreme pressure. Beyond the built-in pressure to appease Penske and the team’s sponsors, Newgarden will have all of the support and tools at his disposal to go toe-to-toe with Pagenaud and Power (in particular), but how will he fare if the two established team leaders are a few tenths faster in the opening rounds?

Newgarden handled his former boss, Ed Carpenter, with ease, and was never seriously challenged by whoever was in Carpenter’s car for the road and street courses. Now, with a pair of road racing nightmares in the same team and a three-time Indy 500 winner to apply pressure on the ovals, Newgarden’s mental strength will be tested every single session.

We think he’s a future champion, but how he handles his teammates on the stopwatch and at the finish line will tell us whether we’re right or wrong.

Will not having Jeremy Milless as his engineer make a difference?

MILLER: It might for a little while at certain places, because he and Jeremy had such great chemistry. But based on his initial test at Road America, I don't think it will linger. Not at Team Penske. Not with all that information.

PRUETT:  In this era of limited testing, it absolutely will. The easy flow of information and needs between Josef and Jeremy was the key ingredient that transformed Newgarden into a regular contender. Penske’s Brian Campe is just as talented as Milless, but with the aforementioned testing restrictions, he and his new driver will learn a lot more about each other’s working styles and communication tendencies after the season gets underway. In light of the one-year settling period Pagenaud and Ben Bretzman required at Penske, Campe and Newgarden will certainly win together; the only question is whether that happens in 2017 or 2018.

16C 8439 1


Mikhail Aleshin
Marco Andretti
Sebastien Bourdais

Ed Carpenter
Helio Castroneves
Gabby Chaves
Max Chilton
Conor Daly
Scott Dixon
RC Enerson
Luca Filippi
Jack Hawksworth
James Hinchcliffe
Ryan Hunter-Reay
Tony Kanaan
Charlie Kimball
Juan Pablo Montoya
Carlos Munoz

LAT cobb 160916 Sonoma 01684Coming off a strong rookie season with Dale Coyne Racing, Conor Daly has spent the last month pushing for another opportunity in the Verizon IndyCar Series. A return to DCR is a possibility, and he's also in the frame for drives with AJ Foyt Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing, but the Hoosier doesn't expect to relax until his name is on a new contract.

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"I've been looking at the offseason and where I am in it right now and have been trying to stay positive about my chances," the 24-year-old told RACER. "I think any driver without a contract feels frustrated, so it's just a case of managing the process and continuing to talk to teams to see what we can develop for next year. This might be the hardest time ever – certainly that I've seen – for young drivers to get their foot in the door and stay in IndyCar without bringing a lot of money to give to a team."

Daly points to the multi-year contract his former Indy Lights teammate Josef Newgarden signed when he entered the series in 2012 as the perfect scenario for a rookie. It seems hard to fathom today, but Newgarden's first year in IndyCar with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing gave no indication he would drive for Roger Penske in the future.

Piloting the No. 67 Honda, Newgarden never cracked the top 10, finished 15th or worse in 10 races, and placed a lowly 23rd in the championship one spot ahead of Simona de Silvestro in her Lotus-powered HVM entry. Thanks to the length of his contract, Newgarden then turned his educational rookie campaign into a vastly improved 2013 season where he finished 14th in the standings, scored his first podium, and caught the attention of his new boss.

lat abbott Det 0616 7831Daly, who also spent his rookie season driving for a small Honda-powered team, had similar results in one regard by placing 18th in the standings – ahead of fellow rookie Max Chilton and Foyt's Jack Hawksworth. The key difference compared to Newgarden's debut is Daly's four finishes inside the top six and one podium.

By the numbers, Daly appears to be ahead of the curve and wants a chance to prove it.

conor 2"I had a one-year contract with Dale Coyne and I'd really like to find an opportunity like my friend Josef had when he arrived in IndyCar," he said. "It really was the perfect contract. Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman signed him for multiple years. It gave him a chance to develop in the same environment  he had stability to bank on and ran with it.

"You look at where he is now with Penske, and you have to give credit to how Sarah and Wink went about giving Josef a platform to grow into where he is today. If it was just one year for him, or me, or any young driver coming up, it's super-tough to demonstrate all you can do. It's a two- or three-year process, and that's what I'm hoping to have. I thought the year went well and want to get back and use that experience because it really counts in IndyCar."

Daly says he will continue pushing to secure a new (or familiar) home in IndyCar for 2017, and continues to root for other young drivers in a similar position.

"The door is definitely not closed at Coyne and there are a lot of smart people there who are going to help the team make big strides," he added. "Rejoining Dale's team would be fantastic, but there's a big sponsorship ask and need. I'm trying to help there, but I'm talking with other team owners; I have a good relationship with Ed Carpenter, Larry and A.J. Foyt, and have been talking with everyone. I'm going after everything out there and have to wait to see how it plays out.

"I want to see Spencer [Pigot], RC [Enerson], and myself back full-time. IndyCar has a lot of talented young guys, young Americans, and there would be nothing better than if we can all continue together next year."

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