Notes: Dolphins QB Tannehill joins friend Hunter-Reay at St. Pete

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill became friends with Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay through their wives since both families are South Florida residents. The racing Ryan invited the pigskin-throwing Ryan to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, allowing Tannehill a chance to ride on the Honda Fastest Seat in Sports two-seater with Indy car legend Mario Andretti at the wheel to pace the field before the race.

“It’s a unique experience,” Tannehill said prior to climbing into the passenger seat. “You can’t really grasp how cool it is until you’re part of it. To be with a legend like Mario and his career that he had, being able to go around the track at speed, it’s a unique experience and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Tannehill spent race eve meeting with Hunter-Reay and his crew. It gave the quarterback a new appreciation of the teamwork involved, just as in football.

“We were at the truck last night and I met his engineers and his mechanics,” Tannehill said. “Just the work that these guys put in getting the car ready to go and perform at peak performance, you don’t realize how much goes into it. I can appreciate that from my aspect.

“Most people don’t realize how much work that football players put in, so definitely a lot of parallels (between football and racing) and you can see the hard work pay off.”

Special crew formed for TAG Heuer Pit Stop Competition

PIRTEK Team Murray and the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation have created a unique program that will see six military service veterans and first responders from across North America form a pit crew for this year’s TAG Heuer Pit Stop Competition during Miller Lite Carb Day, in conjunction with the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

The announcement was made today at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg by team owner Brett Murray, along with Taya Kyle, the widow of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and executive director of the foundation.

The first crew member named was David Rutherford, a former Navy SEAL from Boca Raton, Fla., now serving as a motivational speaker.

“We’ll be using plenty of SEAL Team thinking come the TAG Heuer Pit Stop Competition on May 27 and I think that, with the team we are putting together with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and the support of the military community on that Memorial Day weekend, we can be unstoppable,” Rutherford said.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment worked with Team Murray and the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation to create the concept. WBHE will use the pit crew program to launch “American Sniper: The Chris Kyle Commemorative Edition” on Blu-ray on May 3.

Rookie driver Matt Brabham will drive the No. 61 PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 14 and the 100th Indianapolis 500 on May 29. The honorary pit crew, called the CK Crew, will participate as the team’s entry in the pit stop competition May 27 and serve as backups for the regular crew on Indy 500 race day.

The pit crew will be housed in Indianapolis for 10 days leading up to the event and be trained and coached by some of the sport’s leading fitness and movement professionals, including Pit Fit’s Jim Leo. Additional crew members will be named soon.

“I am sure the six members of the CK Crew and their partners will have an experience they will never forget, but also the hundreds of other worthy recipients we intend to involve around the country,” Taya Kyle said. “It is a great chance for supporters of the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, our military and first responders to get involved as a donor to the CK Crew.

“Not only will they have an awesome experience right across the Indy 500 weekend, their donations will allows us to assist many families that have done so much to support and serve our country over many years.

Bucs DL McCoy honored to be St. Pete grand marshal

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy is serving as grand marshal for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The four-time Pro Bowler and team captain met four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the Chip Ganassi Racing garage in the paddock for a jersey exchange. He also met team owner Roger Penske for an exchange on the grid prior to the race.

“When they asked me to be grand marshal, I said, ‘Sure I can do that,’” McCoy said. “Now that I’m here, I’m like, ‘They picked me to do this?’ It’s an honor to be here and a lot of fun.”

McCoy got an up-close look at the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet before signing his jersey to Dixon.

“It’s fun to meet these guys, especially football players, and talk about their training and what they do, their seasons and what they do in the offseason,” Dixon said. “You can tell they have a great work ethic and love their jobs. It’s very similar to (Verizon IndyCar Series drivers).”

 ‘Lionheart – Remembering Dan Wheldon’ to be released in May

As the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season gets underway in his adopted hometown, news comes of a new book paying tribute to two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon.

Written and produced by Andy Hallbery and Jeff Olson, “Lionheart – Remembering Dan Wheldon” is a high-quality 216-page book chronicling Wheldon’s life, as told by the people who knew him best: his family, friends, teammates, crew members and fellow competitors. Wheldon died in a 2011 crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“The response has been truly incredible,” said Susie Wheldon, Dan’s widow. “It shows just how many people’s lives Dan touched and is a wonderful legacy for our two boys, Sebastian and Oliver. I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everybody involved for their dedication to creating this book, and to everyone who contributed, too.”

The book covers Wheldon’s career from karting all the way to his Indianapolis 500 wins in 2005 and 2011 and his 2005 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. It is filled with stories – some funny, some touching, but all truly captivating. Featured contributions from legendary names within the Verizon IndyCar Series and beyond, including lifelong friend and teammate Dario Franchitti, Formula One champion and childhood karting rival Jenson Button, NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, and many more from across the motorsport world.

The coffee-table book will be available to pre-order soon, priced at $74.99. A portion of the proceeds benefits two charities close the British driver’s heart – the Alzheimer’s Association and the DCW Foundation, created to continue the wide-reaching charitable work Wheldon started.

The book will be published in May during the lead-up to the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Follow www.indycar.com or www.facebook.com/LionheartDW/ for more news and information on how to pre-order soon.

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