Michael Andretti busts out his strategery

Posted by Iannucci | 1/26/2009 | 11 comments »
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According to an AGR press release Michael Andretti is taking matters into his own hands - and by matters I mean Danica Patrick’s tactical adventures.

Andretti Green announced today that team co-owner Michael Andretti will take over the role of strategist for driver Danica Patrick on the team's #7 entry for the 2009 IndyCar Series season.

Andretti replaces Kyle Moyer, who worked with Patrick in 2008 and will now return to call races for driver Marco Andretti on the team's #26 entry.

Andretti Green's two other entries will retain the same strategist/driver alignments as last season with Kim Green returning to Hideki Mutoh's #27 entry and George Klotz rejoining Tony Kanaan on the #11 car.

To the best of my recollection Mr Andretti doesn’t have any experience as a “Race Strategist”. That’s the guy who among other duties tells the driver when to pit, how much to monkey with the fuel knob, and when to stand on the gas because rain is going to hit the speedway in less than five minutes. An important job, to be sure. I’m sure he’s qualified to do the job, but I was wondering why he would remove Kyle Moyer as Danica’s strategist when the man managed to do what no one else has done – get Danica into Victory Lane.

But then I remembered everything’s about money.

I don’t know how much a race strategist actually gets paid, but my guess is the AGR budget was lightened in these belt-tightening times with one less race strategist on the payroll. In fact, since Kim Green is a co-owner this makes two actual strategist non-owners on the payroll. Hey, every penny counts.

So why would Michael provide race strategy from Danicker and not any of the other three drivers? Glad you asked.

Klotz and Kanaan have worked together for a few years now, and since Kanaan has been fairly successful it’s probably not time for change. Green was actually Danica’s strategist until Hideki came along, so he gets the youngsters of the team. I suppose this is partially due to the fact that he’s really calming and encouraging to listen to, like he should be reading children’s books.

(Side note: Donald Davidson is still the supreme pick for narrating stories to kids, but I suppose Green would be a solid choice as well.)

Moyer moves over to help Marco on the chance that he can help get Andretti 3.0 another win. Now that Danica has that “she’s never won” monkey off her back, it’s time to get down to the business of getting Marco’s career up to the speed of his ancestors. Right now he’s stuck at one win, and although it might seem impossible to try to equate the success Mario and Michael had, Moyer’s going to try.

But even larger perhaps is the hope by the team is that since Michael is actually a co-owner he will provide a voice that Mrs Hospenthal hears other than her own. She can scream at any other employee all she wants because she’s bringing like a zillion sponsors, but with an owner on the other end maybe she tempers that a bit. Perhaps she'll lend him an ear when he shares pearls of wisdom such as:

“Please stay in the car if you’re still on the track.”
“Don’t forget to mention the sponsors in the post-race interview.”
“You know millions of people are watching your hand puppet show right now.”

Then again maybe this all blows up in a series of public confrontations resulting in innumerable closed-door team meetings, because that’s just what happens with the AGR team.


  1. Matt Chamois // January 26, 2009 4:27 PM  

    I agree with the point about her not being able to spout off at Micheal... She would have to think twice before doing something that stupid.

  2. Carrie // January 26, 2009 6:10 PM  

    Watching the implosion will be fun.

  3. Anonymous // January 26, 2009 7:02 PM  

    I think perhaps the clock is ticking on her time with AGR. I'm also wondering if everyone else is simply refusing to work with her after dealing with the mouth and attitude for one season each. Michael might have just drawn the short straw on this one.

  4. Anonymous // January 27, 2009 12:16 AM  

    I agree with Sarah Fan. Michael may suspect that T.J. is eyeing NAPCAR, Mike wants to help Danica to notch one or more wins this year, hoping to keep her in ICS.
    Perhaps in a private meeting with Mike, her previous strategist threw up his hands said that he couldn't help Whanica any more than he has. So Mike said that (as a former driver) he'd try.

  5. Anonymous // January 27, 2009 12:35 AM  

    My take:


    I think this move may pay off.

  6. The Dude // January 27, 2009 6:27 AM  

    Pretty sure Michael has been Marco's race strategist for the last few years so they didn't really cut payroll. Kind of surprised this blog got something that dead wrong. It's more of a giving Marco some space move, a la Rahal.

  7. Jesse // January 27, 2009 7:08 AM  

    I think this is about money, but not in a payroll kind of way...

    Danica brings money, win or lose; and she may not even be returning, as many stated here. In her stead, AGR will need to be able to position Marco in a better light to sponsors, and trying to get him some wins is a great way to do that. Danica winning does little to help the team. Marco winning might score some extra cash in 2010.

  8. Anonymous // January 27, 2009 7:08 AM  

    Bring back Nigel Mansell and you'll have an awesome Whiny triumverate.

  9. Iannucci // January 27, 2009 7:27 AM  

    The Dude,

    Marco's strategist in 2008 was Paul "Ziggy" Harcus. In '07 it was Kyle Moyer. Note that neither of those men are named "Michael Andretti".

    Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not completely wrong with everything else.

  10. John in Speedway // January 27, 2009 11:25 AM  

    I agree with Curt Cavin's statement on Danica going to NASCAR. Not likely. If she does, it's only for money because she would not succeed. First, she has no experience in those types of cars. 2nd, she has not even came anywhere near reaching the level of success in IndyCars that Sam and Dario did. If she goes to NASCAR (and they will throw money at her) then she would be a 100% complete sellout. At least Sam and Dario can say "I won the Indy 500, I won lots of IndyCar races and championships, I want to challenge myself by trying something new." That's a valid argument, but Danica would have nothing but $$$ as an excuse. I don't see it happening. Not until she wins Indy.

  11. Jennifer Coomer // January 27, 2009 11:34 AM  

    I think this is about cutting down on the need for Marco to bump or run Danica off the track.