Andretti Autosport has confirmed that the long-standing primary sponsor for Tony Kanaan’s #11 Dallara Honda in the IZOD IndyCar Series, 7-Eleven, will not return in 2011. The convenience store chain will, however, continue to serve as an associate sponsor with the team on Danica Patrick’s car.
Team representative John Lopes confirmed that while Kanaan is still under contract for another three years at about $3 million (US) per season, he has been given permission to explore opportunities with other teams for next season. Andretti is working to secure a new primary sponsor to keep Kanaan, but an announcement does not appear to be imminent.
The team is also reported to be looking for a new primary sponsor for the #37 car driven this past season by Ryan Hunter-Reay. IZOD, which also serves as the series title sponsor, was the primary sponsor for Hunter-Reay this past season, but is not expected back in 2011.
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Graham Rahal, who drove for four IndyCar teams in 2010, announced over the weekend that he has signed a multi-year sponsorship and spokesperson deal with TBC Retail Group, operator of several tire and automotive brands in the U.S., including Service Central, Tire Kingdom and National Tire and Battery.
Rahal has yet to align himself with a team, but his name has been mentioned in connection with a potential third car with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. He could also be in the mix to fill one of the Andretti seats if either Kanaan or Hunter-Reay (or both) don't return.