McLaren Racing is in serious conversation about running a fourth Indianapolis 500 entry for NASCAR star Kyle Busch.
Busch, who last week left Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing after 15 years to sign with Richard Childress Racing, has permission to compete in the Indy 500 with a Chevrolet team.
Busch is a Las Vegas native, and Arrow McLaren SP was founded by longtime Las Vegas resident Sam Schmidt. His brother, Kurt, raced in the 2014 Indy 500 for Andretti Autosport and finished sixth.
The talks with Busch come as the head of McLaren Racing held a town hall Thursday at its IndyCar shop to introduce new hire Brian Barnhart and quell any concerns over this week’s sudden departure of the team president.
Zak Brown did not give a title for Barnhart, an industry veteran who spent the past season as strategist for Alexander Rossi at Andretti Autosport. Rossi will be part of Arrow McLaren SP’s expanded three-car lineup next season, and Barnhart will report to Brown.
Brown told The Associated Press he was still finalizing the structure of the IndyCar arm’s senior management team and “hiring like crazy” in advance of the additional third car. McLaren is also building a state-of-the-art shop in Indianapolis designed to be similar to its Formula One factory in England.
It’s been a hectic season for McLaren — and Brown — as the organization has tried to shore up its lineups across several series with the best talent possible. It led to a dispute in Formula One with rival team Alpine for the rights to Oscar Piastri, which McLaren won, and a $15 million buyout of Daniel Ricciardo to open a seat for Piastri.
Then there was a prolonged legal battle in IndyCar for the rights to 2021 champion Alex Palou, who ultimately will remain with Chip Ganassi Racing for the final season of his contract. But he was permitted to test the F1 car for McLaren last week and is expected to make a full move to the team in 2024 when his Ganassi deal is done.
Now the team has lost president Taylor Kiel, who joined the organization nearly 15 years ago when Sam Schmidt Motorsports was an Indy Lights team.
“It’s been an honor to work for Arrow McLaren SP for more than a decade. As I step away, I am most proud of growing this team into a powerhouse able to fight for championships and wins each week. I now look forward to spending time with my own growing family and whatever’s next!” Kiel tweeted Wednesday.
Although he was vague on what his next move is, it is widely believed that Kiel will be introduced at Ganassi as soon as his noncompete clause expires. It is unclear what Kiel’s role would be; Mike Hull, his stepfather, has been with Ganassi for more than three decades and as managing director essentially runs the organization.
McLaren has said only about Kiel: “Taylor Kiel is stepping down as Arrow McLaren SP President after two seasons. As the team grows to three cars for the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season, announcements on team management will be made in due course.”
Barnhart, meanwhile, is the former president of race operations and race director of IndyCar. He joined Harding Racing in 2017, which evolved into Harding Steinbrenner Racing and was absorbed by Andretti Autosport.
Sources: Ex-Buffs QB Shrout picks Arkansas St.
Shrout visited Arkansas State over the weekend and his commitment looms as a significant win for Butch Jones, who is entering his third season as Arkansas State’s head coach.
Shrout will graduate from Colorado this spring and plans to enroll at Arkansas State in May, according to sources. He has one year of eligibility remaining and potentially a second if he gets a medical redshirt after missing the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL.
Shrout most recently played at Colorado in 2022, where he threw for 1,220 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions and delivered the game-winning touchdown pass against Cal in overtime in Colorado’s lone victory of the season. He started seven games at Colorado and had one start during his three seasons at Tennessee (2018-2020).
Shrout is one of three Buffaloes quarterbacks who have entered the NCAA transfer portal since the school hired Deion Sanders as head coach. Sanders has made it clear that his son, Shedeur, will be the starter next season. He introduced him at his opening news conference by saying, “This is your quarterback.”
According to sources, Shrout was attracted to the potential opportunity at Arkansas State, including playing in offensive coordinator Keith Heckendorf’s West Coast-style offense. Shrout also had some teammates at Tennessee who played for Jones, and sources said the former teammates endorsed Jones both as a person and a coach.
Arkansas State (3-9) ranked No. 118 in total offense last season and No. 85 in scoring offense. The Red Wolves open the 2023 season at Oklahoma on Sept. 2.
Georgia’s Bennett arrested for public intoxication
Former Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who led the Bulldogs to their second straight CFP National Championship earlier this month, was arrested on a misdemeanor public intoxication charge in Dallas on Sunday morning.
In a statement to ESPN, a Dallas Police Department spokesperson said officers responded to a report of a man banging on doors in the 1600 block of Tribeca Way at 7:10 a.m. ET on Sunday.
“The preliminary investigation found when officers arrived, they located the man, Stetson Bennett, 25, and determined he was intoxicated,” the police statement read. “Bennett was taken into custody, transported to the City Detention Center and charged with public intoxication.”
Bennett left the detention center Sunday morning, but he could not be reached for comment.
Bennett, who started his college career as a walk-on, was a Heisman Trophy finalist this past season, after leading the Bulldogs to a 15-0 record and SEC championship. He passed for 4,127 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while rushing for another 10 scores.
Bennett was named the offensive MVP in both of Georgia’s victories in the CFP, a 42-41 comeback win against Ohio State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and a 65-7 rout of TCU in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T.
Bennett, who is listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, is considered a potential selection in April’s NFL draft. He recently won the Manning Award, which is given to the top quarterback in the FBS by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Sources: Harbaugh, Broncos meet but no deal
Broncos owner Greg Penner and University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh met last week in Ann Arbor to discuss Denver’s head-coaching position without any deal materializing, league sources told ESPN.
Although Harbaugh two weeks ago announced he was staying at Michigan, Penner did his due diligence and still traveled to Ann Arbor to meet with the coach in person, like he’s done with seven other candidates during the Broncos’ head-coaching search.
The follow-up conversations were part of the process for both Denver — led by Penner with general manager George Paton — and Harbaugh. The face-to-face meeting came after Harbaugh’s initial video interview with Denver, after which he pulled his name out of contention and reaffirmed his commitment to Michigan.
“I love the relationships that I have at Michigan — coaches, staff, families, administration, president Santa Ono and especially the players and their families,” Harbaugh said in his statement Jan. 16. “My heart is at the University of Michigan. I once heard a wise man say, ‘Don’t try to out-happy, happy.’ Go Blue!”
The Broncos moved on as well, continuing their discussions with several other candidates. Denver has interviewed former Saints coach Sean Payton, former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell, former Stanford coach David Shaw, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and their own defensive coordinator, Ejiro Evero.
Harbaugh now has met with the Vikings and Broncos in back-to-back years. While one source wondered how many more chances Harbaugh would get, another league source said “The league is likely to be interested in Jim as long as he is successfully coaching. He’s proven at every level including the NFL. That’s a hard resume to match.”
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