SPIKE ROGAN'S Warped World of Sports

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I hate you, you hate me, we’re a fast un-happy family

While 2010 marks the "return" of Andretti Autosport (Formerly Andretti-Green Racing) in the Izod IndyCar series, it is anything but happy times. It is no secret that Danica Patrick and teammate Tony Kanaan are not the best of friends, or even in the same fantasy football league.

But what has been hidden is the fact crew members are feuding at Andretti Autosport as well. While at the Glen I overheard a less than lovable conversation between members of Andretti Autosport.

I shall withhold names to protect those involved. But I caught a conversation between a member of the 7 team with a member of the 26 team in the 26 pit.

7 team member: (pointing towards the 11 pit) "Did they ask you for any set up information?"

26 team member: "No."

7 team member: "yeah well I'm not volunteering any information to them unless they ask, and even then I won't be too forthcoming!"

26 team member: "yeah I don't blame you."

The member of Danica's team then walked into the Kanaan pits to speak with a member of the 11 team.

Well this sparked my interest and I worked over a unnamed source with strong connections to many insiders at Andretti Autosport on several teams. It seems that to our surprise the 7 team is still taking Danica's side, even after she tossed them under the bus at Indy, ran them over, backed up, ran them over again, and then spit on them for good measure with her comments after qualifying.(The one that got her booed.)

But the 7 team is also a bit segregated from the other three full time teams. Since the teams pit by points at the Glen; Kanaan,Hunter-Reay, and Marco Andretti were all pitted in a row. Further down the road by themselves was the Go Daddy team. So they feel like outsiders with a growing clique between Hunter-Reay & Kanaan who are very tight.

My source tells me that when Michael Andretti took over full control of the operation a mood change came with it. Everyone's ass is on the line week in and week out. The pressure is greater than ever for these teams to win, every little mistake is used against them later.

Michael Andretti has set the tone that if you don't win, be ready to take a verbal beating. If you don't like it there is the door, and don't let it hit you. Working at Andretti Autosport is more like being an intern for MTV, they will give you shit with no concern knowing plenty of people will take that job if they leave.

With everyones ass on the line, it's clear that a panic mode has set in. The 11 and 37 having won races become a bigger threat to the 7 crowd. Clearly they have a driver who lacks focus on the IZOD IndyCar series. Clearly many will pay the price for a poor showing by Miss Danica.

It's a shock they still protect her when she has insulted them, and is not doing her part to put the 7 in position for even a podium, let alone a win. But since Danica unlike the crew members brings big sponsorship dollars, she's Milka like. She won't go away as long as the big bucks roll into the Andretti Autosports bank account.

And it wasn't just that moment that showed the pressure is getting to crew members. When Ryan Hunter-Reay first pitted during Sunday's race, I was there for his stall leaving the pits. Once he was re-fired and left front tire changer Jeff Simon had a MASSIVE temper tantrum. (as did other members, but no where near the level of Simon.)

Simon kicked the shit out of several tires, banged on the pit box with his hand violently, and even yelled "Mother Fucker!!!God Damn him!!!!" right in front of Ryan's wife Beccy Gordon. (Who was confused at first as was I what happened. I thought it was a Ethanol fire at first since he stopped much like TK did for his fire last season.)

The 37 won the 1st race of the year for Andretti yet they seem to be as massively stressed out as the 7. I'm sure the fact it was not until July 4th that IZOD officially backed sponsoring them for all of 2010 did not help. Imagine every week you don't know if you will still have a job?

Now I understand it's good to have a crew who hates losing, thats what champions do.But clearly the Andretti Autosport family needs to attend family therpy together. This is a family that is ready for the Springer Show if they don't calm down a bit.

My source seems to also tell me, most of these members would jump, if there was someplace to jump to. With no openings at Penske & Ganassi there is really no better place to go. Let alone the weak economy right now makes Andretti one of the better paying places.

Don't be shocked if the big two have openings, they will most likely be filled by defectors from Andretti. Also be ready, this could boil over to a massive incident on national TV if things don't change. The 7 & 11 teams don't seem to be in any hurry to make peace.

Clearly there is just a growing amount of bad blood and finger pointing that the Andretti PR machine has done a fine job keeping behind closed doors. But this weekend they couldn't keep it too silent when someone forgot they were 18 inches from a guy with a media pass on his neck.

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