SEBRING, Fla. – E.J. Viso pulls up the firesuit with the familiar CITGO logo across his chest and climbs into the as-yet-unpainted No. 5 Chevrolet-powered car near pit out at Sebring International Raceway.
All is moving ahead smoothly during this Feb. 20 test session, which is a relief to the 27-year-old Venezuelan. Leaving KV Racing Technology following the completion of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season, Viso and his work group wholeheartedly investigated forming a standalone team for 2013. Longtime sponsors were on board, but the business climate turned into Viso’s winter of discontent.
“I tried every single angle,” Viso said. “We put our efforts into a single team, but things didn’t happen the way we’d consider natural or right. (So we) went ahead and did a partnership with Andretti. It was another way of skinning the cat, which at the end worked well, and I’m very pleased and happy and honored to be with Andretti Autosport.
“I’ve been talking with them for years and it just needed to happen this way and it happened now. To be honest, everything went great with them and both parties were understandable about their needs.”
The entry is a result of collaboration between HVM Racing and Andretti Autosport. HVM received INDYCAR Leaders Circle designation, which contributes up to $1 million to the program through the 19-race season.
Viso joined Andretti’s other full-season entries of defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti at Sebring for the initial on-track session of the year. They’ll also participate in the first Open Test on March 12-13 at Barber Motorsports Park.
“It will be very important for me to continue with a platform of solid people who I’ll be working with,” added Viso, who is reunited with engineer Michael Cannon (photo above). “I’ve been with good organizations in the past, but I consider that I still haven’t had a solid compound of factors working together in the same direction. I’m looking forward to be working with the three drivers and I just want to come here and add things to the table and learn, too.”
Viso, entering his sixth IZOD IndyCar Series season, worked with Cannon for two years at HVM (six top-10 finishes). Viso will hit the century mark if he starts all 19 races this season.
“Our results those first two years -- for being the first two years in IndyCar -- were decent,” said Viso, who counts the Formula 3 British Championship title among his accomplishments. “We created a good synergy and momentum. The communication we had was really good and I’m looking forward to achieving the results I know I can achieve.”