James Hinchcliffe quickly and deftly laid claim to Moe, which left teammates Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay to select from Larry, Curly, Shemp and Joe as nicknames.
There’s not been confirmation from the Andretti Autosport duo, but maybe a couple of wigs will appear trackside before the initial practice session of the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this week to provide a sign.
“We have sort of nicknamed ourselves the Three Stooges because we just walked right in and it’s like we have been working together for years,” said Hinchcliffe, the 2011 Sunoco Rookie of the Year who joined Andretti Autosport over the winter to drive the Chevrolet-powered No. 27 GoDaddy.com car. “The driver dynamic I think was the strongest element when I first got there. I had some learning to do with some of the engineers and mechanics, but I have known (Andretti) and (Hunter-Reay) for a long time. It was like going home.”
Hunter-Reay, who won at New Hampshire last year in his second full season with Andretti Autosport, said the rapport off the track filters to the cross-referencing of on-track information through offseason testing. With the new Dallara car and Chevy engine package, openness is crucial to overall team success.
“We give each other a hard time all the time,” Hunter-Reay said. “The atmosphere in the team is great amongst us. But we have only done two tests together so we will see. You really can understand what (the other drivers like) in the car compared to you and how you can apply it to your set-up and how you can apply it to the bigger picture. The engineers get a pretty good feel for that early on."
Andretti, who will make his 100th IZOD IndyCar Series start in the season opener on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit, said it takes “two seconds if it’s the right attitude” to mesh with teammates.
“I can say we're three guys with the same goal in mind,” said Andretti, who recorded his second series victory last year at Iowa Speedway. “We all want to win races. We're all big picture thinkers. We're going to work together. We're all going to be truthful to each other and we're going to work together to the last lap because that's the only way we're going to be able to beat these bigger teams.
“It's all business with us, and the business is racing. You could be the best friends off the track and not get it done on the track, but we’ll be able to do both."