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Patrick gets new partner in Michael Andretti

Source: LDNews

INDIANAPOLIS—Danica Patrick has a new partner on her race team, Michael Andretti.

As in Michael Andretti, strategist.

Patrick's team, which is co-owned by Andretti, announced the move Monday. The decision allows Kyle Moyer, who made the calls for Patrick's No. 7 car last season, to fill the same role for Andretti's son, Marco.

The 26-year-old driver has emerged as one of the biggest draws on the Indy Racing League circuit, especially after her historic win in Japan last April.

But after reaching Victory Lane, Patrick's season unraveled.

She was knocked out of the Indianapolis 500 in a pit road crash with Ryan Briscoe, then stomped through the pits to confront Briscoe before she was led over the wall by track officials.

She also was involved in a confrontation with driver Milka Duno at Mid-Ohio and crashed in Edmonton when Marco Andretti locked up his brakes. After Japan, Patrick didn't finish better than fifth.

So she's hoping the change to Andretti will produce more consistent results in 2009.

"Michael has been a great resource for me since I came to Andretti Green and having him in my pit box is going to be good," she said in a statement. "He has been very hands-on with all four of our cars in the past and it will be great having him calling races for me."

It also means two of the series biggest names will be working together on race day.

Andretti, son of former Indy winner Mario Andretti, was a
longtime favorite in IndyCars. He won 42 races during his driving career and led more laps at Indianapolis than any other non-winner.

Patrick is one of the most familiar names in this generation of IndyCar drivers.

The Illinois native made headlines in 2005 when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500, finished fourth in the race and was the series' rookie of the year.

Expectations have soared for Patrick, and her performances have steadily improved. She went from 12th in points as a rookie to ninth in 2006, seventh in '07 and sixth last season.

She left Bobby Rahal's team after the 2006 season, opting instead to run with Andretti.

And now she can use Andretti's experience and knowledge to her advantage, too, even though it will be a new endeavor for the former driver.

"As a driver and as an owner, I've seen a million different scenarios unfold during a race and I'm sure I'll see a few more this year," he said. "But, as a strategist, you just have to try to anticipate what is going to happen and be a little bit smarter than everybody you're racing against. This will be a new challenge for sure."

The team's two other strategy-driver combinations remain unchanged.

Tony Kanaan will continue getting his calls from George Klotz, while co-owner Kim Green works again with Hideki Mutoh.

Andretti Green Racing has been one of the series' best teams, winning three points titles and two Indianapolis 500s in the past six seasons.
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