2007 Preview: Andretti Green Racing

Key Staff
  • Drivers: Danica Patrick (Car No. 7), Tony Kanaan (Car No. 11), Marco Andretti (Car No. 26) and Dario Franchitti (Car No. 27)
  • Team Managers: George Klotz and John Anderson
  • Race Engineers: Martin Pare (Patrick), Eric Cowdin (Kanaan), Eddie Jones (Andretti), Allen McDonald (Franchitti)
  • Chief Mechanics: Dave Popielarz (Patrick), Jeff Simon (Kanaan), Mike Horvat (Andretti), Jeff Grahn (Franchitti)

2006 Rear View Mirror
Drivers: Bryan Herta, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, and Dario Franchitti
Points: Sixth (Kanaan), Seventh (Andretti), Eighth (Franchitti), 11th (Herta)
Best Overall Race Finish: Victory by Kanaan (Milwaukee) and Andretti (Infineon)

Andretti, Kanaan expect to contend in 2007: In 2006, the only drivers other than the four from Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing to win were Andretti Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti.

The duo hopes to do it a lot more in 2007.

Strong performance in preseason Open Testing has Kanaan feeling like Team 7-Eleven can return to its championship contending form after finishing a disappointing sixth in points last year.

"We spent a lot of time in the off-season working very hard to close the gap, and I think the lap times at the tests have shown that," Kanaan said. "But, we've still got some work to do on the Team 7-Eleven car before the Homestead race. We're getting closer to the red-and-white cars, and hopefully you'll see us win more races this season."

Kanaan, who claimed victory at Milwaukee, returns to the seat of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Honda-powered Dallara with longtime chief mechanic Jeff Simon and engineer Eric Cowdin. Team manager George Klotz, who served as race strategist for Bryan Herta the last two seasons, will call races for Kanaan in 2007.

Andretti, the son of team co-owner Michael Andretti, turned heads during his rookie season in the IndyCar Series.

A narrow loss to Sam Hornish Jr., in the 90th Indianapolis 500 served as Andretti’s coming out party, and he followed that up with three more top-five finishes, including a breakthrough win at Infineon Raceway in August.

With a win and Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year title under his belt, he looks to avoid the sophomore jinx by contending for the IndyCar Series title with the same leadership that led Dan Wheldon to the 2005 IndyCar Series crown – engineer Eddie Jones, chief mechanic Mike Horvath and race strategist John Anderson.

"I think what's realistic is a championship. I really do," said Andretti, who only failed to finish once after breaking halfshafts in each of his first two races. "People thought I was crazy when I said, 'I think I can win the Indy 500' before that race. I'm not going to say it to make me look good or anything like that.

"I think it's pretty realistic with the team we have this year, it's going to be pretty strong. A championship is one of my goals. There's one thing left to do at Indy, as well. I'm here to win this year."

AGR veteran, newcomer expect to win: Dario Franchitti is the longest tenured driver at Andretti Green Racing. Danica Patrick is the team’s newest driver.

Both have the same goal, win races and contend for the IndyCar Series championship.

"Andretti Green Racing worked very hard during the off-season, and we are really anxious and ready to get the 2007 season underway," team co-owner Kevin Savoree said. "We've seen some big changes in our organization, and we're really looking forward to going racing."

The biggest change is the addition of Patrick, the 2005 Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year. Patrick, who joins the team after two seasons at Rahal Letterman Racing hopes the offseason move pays off in her first win.

"I'm excited about my move to Andretti Green Racing and the No. 7 Team Motorola car," she said. "Nobody else has won more than them, and they were the only team last year to beat the red cars (Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing) at two races."

Patrick will work with veteran engineer Martin Pare and the crew that prepared cars for Franchitti the last two seasons. Team co-owner Kim Green, who previously called races for Tony Kanaan, will serve as Patrick’s race stategist. Patrick, though, is looking forward to being part of the camaraderie of the four-driver lineup.

"I'm also really excited about my teammates, just how much they can help me," she said. "I've never really been in a situation before where I've had people that I can lean on, that can help me. That's going to be a really nice thing for me, to just not only have helpers but friends."

While Patrick is new to the team, Franchitti has been with the team for nearly a decade. But with much of his crew moving to Patrick’s Team Motorola entry, Franchitti’s car has assumed the crew that previously worked with Bryan Herta.

Still, Franchitti is optimistic about how the Canadian Club car will perform this season.

"I haven't been this excited to get back into a race car in quite a long time," said Franchitti, who has driven for the team since 1997. "We had some very good race cars last season, and I expect to be contending for race wins.

"With Canadian Club continuing as the major sponsor on my car, it gives the team some continuity and chemistry to build on that should help produce results on the track."

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