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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Andretti and Petty On Board For Two

Returning to the IZOD IndyCar Series for 2010 will be John Andretti and Richard Petty Motorsports, in a two race deal that will see the team run both May races. It will be their second year together, and the first time they will pair for multiple races.

Andretti will run his first IndyCar race since last year's Indianapolis 500 on May 1, when the series hits Kansas. He will then compete at this year's 500, which will mark his 11th start at Indy if he qualifies.

This year, however, Andretti and RPM will not pair with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing to put their No. 43 Window World Dallara-Honda on track. Instead, John's cousin Michael put together a deal at Andretti Autosport to field the car, further strengthening the ties between the first families of stock car and IndyCar racing. Andretti's extra resources also gave the team the opportunity to run an extra race.

The No. 43 will look very similar to last year's car, featuring the trademark Petty blue and day-glo red that made Petty's STP-sponsored stock cars so iconic between the 1970s and 1990s. Sponsor Window World has a relationship with Andretti dating back to last year's Daytona 500, and for the second year in a row will back him in both major American auto races.

While the deal is fantastic news for RPM and both Andrettis, it leaves J.R. Hildebrand, last year's Indy Lights champion with Andretti, on the sidelines for Indy, at least in the immediate future. Hildebrand recently set up an IndyCar test with the team at Barber Motorsports Park, and was one of the rumored choices to run the team's fifth car in the 500. Hildebrand also tested a Formula 1 car a few months ago, and was coveted by multiple IndyCar teams this offseason, but none could put together a deal for him.

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