For the last three races of the 2020 IndyCar season, James Hinchcliffe will be back behind the wheel in the #26 Andretti Autosport Honda. Many in the paddock feel he deserves the ride, and his team-mates are looking forward to working with him for the rest of the season.
Hinchcliffe was unceremoniously let go from his ride with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at the end of last season, leading to an end to his nine-year run as a full-time driver in IndyCar.
Since then, fans and fellow drivers alike have voiced their opinions that the likeable 33-year-old is still more than deserving of a seat in the sport.
Hinchcliffe was able to secure racing duties for a few races earlier this season, but spent most of his race weekends holding a microphone working as a pit lane reporter for broadcast TV. His driving career was offered a lifeline, however, when he was called on to replace a departing Zach Veach for the remainder of the 2020 season.
In the leadup to this weekend’s Harvest GP double-header, Andretti team-mate Colton Herta has shared his thoughts on the Canadian’s abilities and their similar driving style.
“I really like working with Hinch,” said Herta, referencing the series’ previous visits to Indianapolis earlier this season.
“I think he’s really good at setting up a car. His feedback was really important in Indy. I think you can sometimes get it where maybe a teammate likes to set their car up a different way. I found the very opposite for me and Hinch.
“He really did do an amazing job with the car in setting it up [for the Indy 500]. I could use a lot of his ideas and things from his car that kind of transferred right over to my car. I felt the same exact balance.
“I think a lot of guys know he’s a great driver, deserves to be in IndyCar. It’s nice that he’s back.”
It is still unknown if Hinchcliffe will be offered a full-time ride for next season, but with strong performances and some solid sponsorship money on his side, it seems likely the final races of this season will lead to a full-time opportunity for 2021.
One of the races Hinchcliffe took part in earlier this season was the GMR Grand Prix, which featured the same track layout as this upcoming weekend. So even though he has not had as much time behind the wheel as his competitors, he will already have a feel for the Aeroscreen-laden chassis on the circuit.
The first practice session of this weekend’s Harvest GP double-header takes place tomorrow at 2:25 EDT from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The two races follow with one each on Friday, October 2 and Saturday, October 3.