Could there be another IndyCar organization testing the NASCAR waters?
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Multiple sources have told FOXSports.com that one of the latest candidates for Dodge Motorsports could be Michael Andretti, owner of Andretti Autosport.
With Roger Penske’s departure from Dodge at the end of the 2012 season, the door is open for new organizations to enter the fold. In addition to Andretti, Richard Petty Motorsports and Furniture Row Racing are the top contenders to field Dodges in 2013. An announcement regarding Dodge’s lineup, as well as its engine building plans, could come as early as the weekend of the NASCAR races at Michigan, June 15-17.
Andretti currently fields three full-time teams in the IndyCar Series with drivers Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe. Ana Beatriz is running a limited schedule. Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay are currently third and fourth, respectively, in the IndyCar points standings.
Michael Andretti, the 1991 IndyCar champion, holds the record for most wins in CART with 42. As an owner under the Andretti Green banner — the precursor to Andretti Autosport — he won three IndyCar championships. Andretti teams have also won 39 races, including two Indianapolis 500s.
Andretti also operates an extensive farm system of open-wheel drivers in Firestone Indy Lights, the Star Mazda Championship Series and the USF2000 Championship Series. However, it is unlikely that Andretti would use open-wheel talent for a NASCAR venture. Two names mentioned as possibilities to drive for the team are Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch, both of whom have established relationships with Dodge.
Andretti Green expedited Honda’s entry into the Indy Racing League for the 2003 season. In September, Andretti announced the team was switching to Chevrolet. Ilmor Engineering, which currently builds engines for Andretti Autosport, has been mentioned as a possible supplier for the group in NASCAR, although its plate could be full with its current IndyCar responsibilities.