NASCAR

KV Racing signs sponsor in time for season opener

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)

Tony Kanaan has landed a nine-race sponsorship deal with Hydroxycut just in time for the IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg.

The deal between KV Racing Technology-SH and the weight-loss supplement company helps the team replace longtime sponsor Geico, which gave the organization little notice it was pulling out of IndyCar.

''We're really stoked to bring a new sponsor into IndyCar, especially at the 11th hour to replace the Geico situation,'' said team co-owner Jimmy Vasser.

KV learned in February that Geico, which sponsors Casey Mears in NASCAR, was not returning to IndyCar this season. It comes at a time when smaller IndyCar teams are struggling to find sponsorship and Geico's decision left KV scrambling to find a replacement for Kanaan, one of IndyCar's most popular drivers, with only a month to go before the season opened.

Kanaan will debut the aggressive black livery on the No. 11 Chevrolet when the street course officially opens Friday.

''The Hydroxycut machine is one of the most interesting IndyCar's we've ever built, and I think I echo most of the fans comments that we all cannot wait to see it on the track,'' Vasser said. ''If she runs half as good as she looks, we'll be in victory lane on Sunday.''

The deal still leaves Kanaan's No. 11 car with five unsponsored races, Detroit, Texas, Iowa, Pocono and Mid-Ohio. But KV likes its chances of finding a partner because all but the Mid-Ohio event are ABC telecasts.

Vasser said the team is working with IndyCar in finding potential sponsors, and he's hopeful Geico may reconsider and return for some of those events.

Meanwhile, Andretti Autosport announced Thursday Mutual of Omaha has signed on as an associate sponsor for Marco Andretti.

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