IRL: Howard dropped for Indy500

By Andy Darley

CalendarSaturday, May 10th, 2008

 
 

Jay Howard has lost his chance to drive in this year’s Indy500 after his struggling team decided to drop him for the race and bring in veteran John Andretti.

Roth Racing says it has full confidence in the 2006 Indy Pro champion and his absence will last for just this one race – but the team reckons it needs the experience of Andretti in order to catch up lost ground at Indianapolis.

The team, set up as a vehicle for Marty Roth to compete in the IRL, is in its first full season running two cars. Despite flashes of speed from Roth in qualifying, it has lacked notable success so far this season.

Its Indy500 preparation was disrupted by the loss of team engineer David Cripps, although it has replaced him with ex-Vision manager Larry Curry. Both Roth and Howard have struggled for speed, and the team has been hit particularly badly by the loss of practice time to rain.

Team president Margaret Roth said: “As a result of the days lost due to weather, and losing our chief engineer days before the start of this month, we found ourselves behind the eight-ball. John brings with him a wealth of experience, which can help us build two competitive cars for the 500.”

Andretti was a regular in the race between 1988 and 1994, and made a one-off comeback in last year’s race. He was known to be hoping to find a drive for this year’s race, though not with any great optimism.

Margaret Roth stressed Howard still had the confidence of the team: “Jay will be back at Milwaukee. He has our full support. He’s a great driver.”

So far, no public comment from Howard. But one commenter on the Indianapolis Star website was unimpressed: “You’re kidding me. Jay Howard is the only thing Roth has going for him after he loses Cripps, his sponsor, and 5 crew members, and then Marty gives him the shaft, too? I had some sympathy for Marty, but no more.”

5 responses to “IRL: Howard dropped for Indy500”:

  1. Kerry Marshall Says:

    May 10th, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    This latest move by Marty Roth and Roth Racing has got to be to worst to date. Removing Jay Howard from his car and replacing him with John Andretti is just pure stupidity.

    Marty, who has not shown anything over the years, signs a talented driver in Howard who has been pretty rock solid with the exception of his first race in Homestead. Jay has been finishing races, Marty has been crashing out or being called in to “park it”.

    Marty’s ego is getting in the way of acting like or even coming close to acting like a true team owner. You don’t take your future star and bench him.

    And what has John Andretti really accomplished in the 500’s when you think about it not to mention his performance in Nascar?

    A total blunder, bonehead move, in my opinion.

    Where at one time I rooted for the underdog, I can’t root for Marty Roth anymore. He is just totally out in left field on this one.

    For Jay Howard’s sake, I really hope another team picks him up for the 500 and gives him the opportunity he truly deserves and he leaves Roth.

    Marty just shafted the guy who is the future foundation for Roth Racing. Maybe it’s time Jay Howard return the favor.

  2. Andy Says:

    May 10th, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    It’s certainly got us puzzled here. I know Howard’s Wikipedia entry says it was down to sponsorship reasons, but I couldn’t find any source for that so didn’t like to mention it in the story.

    I can’t imagine he’s a very happy bunny tonight. But it’s not like drives are easy to pick up – Howard may be better off in the long term if he smiles sweetly, stays silent and uses the rest of the season as an audition for a better drive next year.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. Frank Says:

    May 10th, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    I agree that Roth should not have pulled Howard from the # 24. Little by little Jay was gaining speed during his practice session and probably would have been in the 221 range this morning. He would have had a few more days of testing before next weekend to come up to the 224-225 range and he would have made the field.

    There has to be more to this story then what is being said. I do not see anywhere, where Howard has made a statement about the decision, which make me believe that he is not very happy or supports this.

    I agree with the other poster that Roth should have given up his seat to Andretti. With Andretti’s experience along with working with Howard would have been a better choice.

    If I was Howard, I would just go along with the program, keep quiet, finish up the year with good performances and silently be looking at other options.

    Roth has been praising Howard on what he has done so far this year and then to cut his legs out from under him is unprofessional.

    A good finish for Howard in the 500 would have put him in the hunt for rookie of the year points and standings.

    Besides the fact that Margaret Roth, who I assume is either Marty’s sister, mom or wife made the statement about the change instead of Marty himself who is the team owner, makes you wonder what kind of man Marty really is.

    As mentioned, I think there is a lot more to this story that was is being told. Roth Racing is evidently in trouble, with losing most of their team members and engineers two weeks go and now with Howard be replaced, something just does not smell good.

  4. Don Jacobs Says:

    May 11th, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Looks as if Larry Curry made this decision and helped an old friend out based on an article released this morning.

    “Owner-driver Marty Roth, fearing that all the rain this week kept rookie Jay Howard from getting adequately acquainted with Indianapolis Motor Speedway, decided to offer the car to eight-time starter Andretti. Roth acted partly on the recommendation of Larry Curry, the team’s new chief engineer and a friend of Andretti”

    I guess you can’t tell your boss to quit his job, so Curry used Howard as a scapgoat for his job security.

    Be interesting to see what kind of respect and confidence Curry gets from Howard when the 500 is over.

  5. Chris Estrada Says:

    May 11th, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    ESPN interviewed Howard during the Pole Day telecast…he really had to bite his tongue, I could tell. I just don’t think this is a good move at all.

    –Chris Estrada, Indy Racing Revolution (www.mvn.com/irl)

 
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