McLaren hires Barnhart, considering Kyle Bosch in the Indy 500 | NASCAR

McLaren Racing team boss held a town hall Thursday at the IndyCar Store to introduce new employee Brian Barnhart and allay any concerns about the team boss’s sudden departure this week.

Zac Brown did not give a title to Barnhart, the industry veteran who spent last season as Alexandre Rossi’s chief strategist 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 that he is still finalizing the senior management team structure for the IndyCar arm and is “renting like crazy” up front for the extra third car. McLaren is also building a state-of-the-art store in Indianapolis that is designed to be similar to the Formula 1 plant in England.

And the team is in serious conversation about running the fourth-entering Indianapolis 500 for NASCAR star Kyle Bush. The effort is likely backed by the Menards as 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 Team Chevrolet.

Busch is a native of Las Vegas, and Arrow McLaren SP was founded by longtime Las Vegas resident Sam Schmidt.

It’s been a hectic season for McLaren – and Brown – as the organization has tried to bolster their lineup across several series with the best talent possible. This led to a dispute in Formula 1 with rival team Alpine over the rights to Oscar Piastre, which McLaren won, and Daniel Ricciardo’s $15 million purchase to open a seat for Pastry.

Then there was a protracted legal battle at IndyCar for the rights to 2021 champion Alex Palou, who will eventually remain 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 move entirely to McLaren in 2024 when the Ganassi deal is completed.

Now the team has lost chief Taylor Keel, who joined the organization nearly 15 years ago when Sam Schmidt Motorsports was one of the Indy Lights teams.

“It is a great honor to have been working for Arrow McLaren SP for over a decade. As I step away, I am very proud to grow this team into a strong center capable of fighting for championships and winning every week. I am now looking forward to spending time with my growing family and whatever Coming!” Kiel posted on social media a shocking announcement.

Although he was vague about his next move, it was widely believed that Kiel would be introduced into Ganassi once the non-competition clause expired. It is unclear what Keel’s role will be. Mike Hull, his stepfather, has been with Ganassi for more than three decades and as a general manager primarily runs the organization.

McLaren said only of Keel: “Taylor Keel is stepping down as Arrow McLaren SP president after two seasons. As the team grows to three cars for the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series, team management will be announced in due course.”

Barnhart, meanwhile, is the former head of race operations and race director for IndyCar. He joined Harding Racing in 2017, which then evolved into Harding Steinbrenner Racing and then absorbed by Andretti Autosport.

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