McLaren considering Kyle Busch for Indy 500; Team hires veteran manager Brian Barnhart

Kyle Busch McLaren Indy

Kyle Busch McLaren Indy

Arrow McLaren SP are interested in an Indy 500 entry for Kyle Busch as the NTT IndyCar Series team strengthens its leadership ranks after its president leaves.

The head of McLaren Racing held a town hall meeting at his IndyCar shop on Thursday to introduce new signing Brian Barnhart and assuage any concerns about Taylor Kiel’s sudden departure this week.

Zak Brown didn’t give a title to Barnhart, an industry veteran who spent the previous season strategizing for Alexander Rossi at Andretti Autosport. Rossi will be part of the expanded Arrow McLaren SP three-car lineup next season and Barnhart will report to Brown.

Brown told The Associated Press he was still in the process of finalizing the IndyCar arm’s senior management team structure and “hiring like crazy” ahead of the additional third car. McLaren is also building a state-of-the-art store in Indianapolis to resemble its Formula 1 factory in England.

And the team is in serious talks about starting a fourth Indianapolis 500 entry for two-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Busch. who had wanted to race at the Brickyard in May for several years. The effort would likely be backed by Menards as Busch, who left Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing after 15 years to sign with Richard Childress Racing last week, has permission to compete with a Chevrolet team in the Indy 500.

Busch hails from Las Vegas and Arrow McLaren SP was founded by longtime Las Vegas resident Sam Schmidt. Busch’s older brother Kurt was the youngest NASCAR driver to drive both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Kurt Busch was the 2014 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year with a sixth place finish for Andretti Autosport.

It’s been a hectic season for McLaren – and Brown – as the organization has sought to shore up their lineups with the best possible talent across multiple series. It led to a dispute in Formula 1 with rival team Alpine over the rights to Oscar Piastri, which McLaren won, and a $15 million buyout by Daniel Ricciardo to open a seat for Piastr.

Then there was a protracted legal battle at IndyCar over the rights to Alex Palou, the 2021 champion. who will ultimately stay with Chip Ganassi Racing for the final season of his contract. But he was allowed to test the F1 car for McLaren last week and is expected to fully switch to McLaren in 2024 when his Ganassi deal is finalized.

Now the team has lost Kiel, who came to the organization nearly 15 years ago when Sam Schmidt Motorsports was an Indy Lights team.

“It has been an honor to have worked for Arrow McLaren SP for more than a decade. As I retire, I am immensely proud to have grown this team into a powerhouse capable of battling for championships and wins every week. I now look forward to spending time with my own growing family and whatever comes next!” Kiel posted the shocking news on social media.

Although he has been vague as to what his next move is, it is widely believed that Kiel will be introduced at Ganassi once his non-competition clause expires. What role Kiel would play is unclear. Mike Hull, his stepfather, has been with Ganassi for more than three decades and essentially runs the organization as CEO.

McLaren has only said about Kiel: “Taylor Kiel is stepping down as President of Arrow McLaren SP after two seasons. As the team grows to three cars for the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season, team management announcements will be made in due course.”

Barnhart, meanwhile, is former President of Racing Operations and Race Director of IndyCar. He joined Harding Racing in 2017 which then evolved into Harding Steinbrenner Racing and was then acquired by Andretti Autosport.

McLaren considering Kyle Busch for Indy 500; Team hires veteran manager Brian Barnhart originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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