Capstone Returns for Six Races with Andretti and Hinchcliffe

Photo from Andretti Autosport

Andretti Autosport completed the sponsor package for James Hinchcliffe today. Their news release:

02.18.21

Andretti Autosport has announced today that the team will again join forces with Steinbrenner Racing to field the NTT INDYCAR SERIES entry piloted by James Hinchcliffe. Recognizable partner Capstone Turbine Corporation (www.capstoneturbine.com) (NASDAQ: CPST), the world’s leading clean technology manufacturer of microturbine energy systems, will return with their #ShiftToGreen campaign as the primary partner on the No. 29 Honda for six races in the upcoming 2021 NTT INDYCAR® SERIES season. Paired with Genesys, who was previously announced to primary 10 races with Hinchcliffe, today’s sponsorship confirmation further rounds out the season for the fan-favorite driver.

“We are looking forward to continuing to expand the winning relationship with Capstone Turbine and helping them grow green energy brand awareness by assisting them with new B2B introductions and expanding current relationships with other sponsors that are Capstone end users,” stated Michael Andretti, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Andretti Autosport. “We’re also pleased to welcome George and the Steinbrenner Racing team back into the Andretti fold. We’ll be working together on this entry for Hinchcliffe this year, as well as the Indy Lights car for Devlin DeFrancesco.”

The 2021 season will be Hinchcliffe’s 11th year competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and his fifth in the Andretti Autosport stable. In his 145 starts, he has recorded six wins, one pole, 32 top-five finishes and has led a total of 781 laps. “I’m really excited to be joined up with Capstone for a handful of races in 2021,” said Hinchcliffe. “Working with a company that is essentially trying to save the world is such a cool experience. I think the need for green energy is very apparent and it’s something that affects and helps everyone. Being a part of educating people on what we can do better and how we can be better is something that’s really exciting. Obviously, the goal is to win and the best way to raise awareness is to get the #ShiftToGreen Honda into victory lane and tell people about what we’re trying to do. It’s also great to be working with George and Steinbrenner Racing. They’ve only been together a short while, but the results have come already and that speaks to the people in that organization, so I’m really happy to be in the Andretti Steinbrenner program”

“The Mayor of Hinchtown will now add Grand Marshal to the Capstone World to his resume. When he is not driving at 240 miles per hour on an INDYCAR circuit, James will be helping Capstone educate fans on the types of alternative energy sources that are accelerating the global shift to green energy,” stated Darren Jamison, Capstone’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The energy landscape is changing, and we are excited to have James both behind the wheel and as our brand ambassador. The valuable business relationships we have developed with the support of George Steinbrenner IV and Michael Andretti offers Capstone a platform to reach the racing community and help more companies save money and lower their carbon footprint.”

The Capstone green and white livery made its NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in 2019 on the streets of Toronto with Colton Herta and Harding Steinbrenner Racing and continued through the season finale at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca where Herta scored a victory from pole position. In 2020, the Herta sponsorship extended the relationship between Andretti Autosport and Capstone Turbine, which began at Texas Motor Speedway during the month of May in 2019 with driver Alexander Rossi who was the first INDYCAR driver to put Capstone Turbine on the podium with a second-place finish.

“We are very happy to continue our partnership with Capstone,” said George Michael Steinbrenner IV, owner, Steinbrenner Racing. “It has been a great journey taking this partnership from a single race sponsorship in 2019 to a strong and sustainable pact. Working with Capstone has opened our team to a world of green energy initiatives that we continue to seek to bring to the INDYCAR paddock.”

“Being able to continue into our fifth season partnered with Andretti Autosport feels like we’re keeping the family together,” added Steinbrenner. “It looks a bit different this year, but we are greatly looking forward to working with a great driver and human in James Hinchcliffe as well as continuing to maintain our success on and off the track.”

Capstone Turbine will serve as the primary partner on the No. 29 Honda at Texas Motor Speedway (Race 2), the INDYCAR Grand Prix, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the streets of Nashville, Portland International Raceway, and the season finale race on streets of Long Beach.

Hinchcliffe Full Time with Andretti; Genesys to Sponsor 10 Races

Photo: Karl Zemlin, Indycar

James Hinchcliffe returns to Andretti Autosport and the Indycar grid full time as the team announced their fourth full time car for the 2021 NTT Indycar series campaign. Genesys will sponsor the 29 car for 10 races for Hinchcliffe in 2021. Sponsors for the other seven races will be named in the coming weeks

.Hinchcliffe drove for Andretti from 2012-2014 after a year at Newman-Haas. After five years at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Hinchcliffe lost his ride after the 2019 season. He ran three races for Andretti with Genesys sponsorship in 2020 and ran three races for Andretti late in the year replacing Zach Veach. His best finish was seventh in the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe won three races in 2013 for Andretti and he has six career wins.

Photo: Indycar, James Black

Hinchcliffe spent part of 2020 as part of the NBC broadcast team at aces where he wasn’t driving.

The Indianapolis 500 and Hinchcliffe have a love hate relationship. A grisly accident in post qualifying practice nearly cost the Canadian driver his life. he returned the following year to win the pole for the 100th running oif the race. In 2018 he failed to qualify. Hinchcliffe returned to the 500 field in 2019, finishing 11th after starting 32nd.

Rossi Tops Sebring Test Day

Photo: Indycar, Chris Owens

Alexander Rossi led a strong showing by Andretti Autosport at Sebring on Tuesday with a quick lap of 52.27 seconds. Teammate Colton Herta was second, followed by Jack Harvey and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo of Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato were next in line.

Photo-Chris Owens Indycar

Harvey, of Meyer Shank Racing had a technical alliance with Andretti last year. I look for a strong year from Harvey. The team has a full year under their belt, and having Helio Castroneves as a teammate for six races should help as well.

Dalton Kellett and A, J, Foyt Racing tested both days and seemed happy with the team’s progress.

Marco Will Run Indy Only, Looks at Other Racing Options

Photo from Marco Andretti Twitter

In a surprise announcement this afternoon, Marco Andretti said he will not drive full time in the 2021 NTT Indycar Series. Andretti said he will still enter the Indianapolis 500 and possibly some other selected races. Marco hopes to do some sports car racing in IMSA and explore other racing opportunities.

The 98 did not qualify for the 2021 Leader’s Circle money and US Concrete is not returning as a primary sponsor. Marco has struggled the last few years on track. He won the pole for the 2020 Indianapolis 500 but finished 13th, not leading a lap.

It will be strange but not unprecedented not seeing the Andretti name on track. Mario and Michael Andretti only did the 500 while driving full time in Formula 1.

Marco’s statement from his Twitter account:

“Upon careful thought over the past couple of months, I have made the decision to make some changes to my racing activities and focus for 2021,” said Andretti. “I recently shared this decision and the changes that I want to make with my dad (Michael) and have spoken at length with him about it. I appreciate his openness and for allowing me the flexibility to map out my own course going forward.

“I am fortunate to be in a position at Andretti Autosport to run the full IndyCar season if I want to. But, instead, I have decided to change up my direction somewhat — to reset, to do something a little different — look at everything fresh and see where that takes me. And, to me, now seems like the appropriate time to do that.

“I definitely am going to keep driving. I still have a deep passion for it and have unfinished business to take care of and some boxes that I want to check before I consider retiring as a driver.

“First and foremost, I remain very hungry to win the Indy 500. It is our biggest stage and the place that I feel I bring the most to the table as a driver. I’ve come close there and am in the mix there it seems each year. Winning the pole there last year was awesome but that isn’t enough — I know that a victory there is in my future so we’ll try to get that done in the coming years. As such, I have committed to and am looking forward to running the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport this year.”

“In addition to being squarely focused on the Indy 500, I might also take a look at running some other races on the IndyCar schedule as the season progresses, in order to remain ‘car fit.’ I have also offered to help the team with some testing and other activities along the way,” Marco said. “And, I may look at different opportunities in all of motorsports. My involvement in my Andretti Autosport entry will continue.

“I also want to do some sports car racing — maybe even get the chance to do IMSA events with my cousin Jarett, which would be a lot of fun for me. I’ll be looking into other sports car opportunities as well in the coming months and welcome discussions in that regard. Marquee events like the (Rolex 24) 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Le Mans would be on that list for sure.

“I am excited for what the future holds for me both on and off the track and, again, am grateful to Dad and Andretti Autosport for allowing me the freedom to change things around as I’d like and to proceed forward a little differently this upcoming season.”

Michael Andretti, Marco’s father, emphasized that the decision was Marco’s alone. Andretti’s decision does not affect James Hinchcliffe’s situation. Hinchcliffe is expected to be confirmed soon as a full time drive for Andretti Autosport for this coming season. Hinchcliffe will not be in the 98.

Hunter-Reay Returns to Andrettiwtih DHL

Photo: Chris Jones, Indycar

Ryan Hunter-Reay confirmed this morning that he will return to Andretti Autosport in the 28 car, continuing with DHL and Auto Nation sponsorship. 2021 will be Hunter-Reay’s 12th year with Andretti. The 2012 Series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner finished 10th in the 500 last season and 10th in the season standings.

Hunter-Reay is the third confirmed driver for Andretti, joining Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta. James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti are expected to have rides confirmed soon.

The full time grid is nearly full. In addition to the two expected to be claimed Andretti seats, there are two openings at Coyne, and confirmation of at least one car at Carlin.

Notes

Per Curt Cavin on Trackside Tuesday and a report from another highly reliable source, it appears former F1 driver Romain Grosjean will be in one of Dale Coyne’s cars for 2021. No driver is set for Coyne’s second car, but I hear Ed Jones might be the leading candidate.

Aldo’s Last Lap

Aldo Andretti, who died December 31, was taken for a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Wednesday before his celebration of Life service. Mario’s twin brother had done just a few laps in a tire test at IMS, but never got to drive an Indycar in a race.


Back later this afternoon with a report on the Chili Bowl.

Herta Moves to the 26 and Other Notes

Image from Andretti Autosport Twitter

Colton Herta is moving his office down the hall at Andretti Autosport, moving from the Hardin Steinbrenner Andretti number 88 to the Gainbridge number 26 of Andretti Autosport. Herta essentially replaces Zach Veach, who brought Gainbridge sponsorship to Andretti in 2017. Gainbridge also is the presenting sponsor of the Indianapolis 500.

The multi year deal gives the three time winner beginning his third Indycar season the sponsor stability he has lacked his first two seasons. The number 26 was Herta’s number in his karting days, and it was also his father Bryan’s number when he drove the Andretti Green Acura LMP2.

The number 88’s driver will be named at a later date. Mike Harding and George Steinbrenner continue their association with that car. I’m expecting James Hinchcliffe to get that ride, and it is possible the car may carry a different number.

Ferrari-In or Out?

Conflicting stories abound about whether ferrari is still in talks with Indycar regarding their involvement as a third OEM. Saturday a published report said they were no longer involved. Penske immediately responded with a statement saying Indycar was still in discussion with the italian manufacturer. A report today seems to indicate that conversations are still ongoing.

No matter the status of the talks, I don’t ever expect to see a Ferrari in any form running in an Indycar race. Ferrari is known to tease companies an organizations to use as leverage for something more.

Ferrucci to XFinity?

Santino Ferrucci reportedly has signed a deal to run 20 races in the NASCAR XFinity Series in 2021. Ferrucci, who drove for Dale Coyne racing with Vasser Sullivan the last two years, has not resigned with the team. This deal might make a full Indycar season difficult.

Ferrucci was Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 2018. He finished 13th in the standings in 2020.

Zanardi Well Enough to Transfer; Kirkwood Gets a 2020 Do Over

Some bits of positive news:

Alex Zanardi, two time Indycar champion and paralympic gold medalist, continues to recover from his hand cycling accident last June. Zanardi suffered neurological and facial damage when his cycle hit a truck during a race in Tuscany. He had been in a facility in San Rafaella, but is moving to a rehabilitation center in Padua, which is closer to his home.

“The patient has reached a generally stable physical and neurological condition that permitted his transfer to another hospital equipped with all the necessary clinical specialties and closer to the family home,” said a spokesman for the San Rafaella hospital.

Kirkwood Returns to Andretti for Indy Lights

For 2021 Kyle Kirkwood will be where he was supposed to be in 2020. The 2018 USF200 champion and 2019 Indy Pro 200 champion will finally get to drive in Indy Lights for Andretti Autosport, where his 2020 season was going to take place.

Kirkwood spent the past season in IMSA, which is not a bad alternative. For one thing, he received some experience doing pit stops, which drivers don’t get in Indy Lights. I look for Kirkwood, who will be in car 28 for Andretti, to be a strong contender for the title.

Hinchcliffe to Complete Season in #26

In a move which is not a big surprise, James Hinchcliffe will take over the number 26 Gainbridge Honda for Andretti Autosport for the last three races of the season. The car had been driven by Zach Veach for the lats three years. veach stepped out of the car earlier this week. Hinchcliffe’s time in the car may be a prelude to his driving the 26 next season full time. The announcement from Andretti Autosport:

James Hinchcliffe has been confirmed as the driver of the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda with Andretti Autosport for the remaining three events on the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar. This comes following an announcement Wednesday confirming that Zach Veach would not return to the 26 car for the remaining events.

Hinchcliffe has competed in three prior events [Genesys 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, the GMR INDYCAR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500] this season with Andretti Autosport in the No. 29 Genesys Honda.

The Harvest GP presented by GMR will see Hinchcliffe join Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda), Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda), Colton Herta (No. 88 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Honda) and Marco Andretti (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda) for the doubleheader race weekend. The pair of races on the IMS Road Course will be broadcast live Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, CHAIRMAN & CEO, ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT
“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021. James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NTT INDYCAR SERIES DRIVER, NO. 26 GAINBRIDGE HONDA
“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can. I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”

Veach Out at Andretti

Photo: Zach Veach at mid Ohio in what turned out to be his final ride for Andretti Autosport. Indycar, Chris Owens

Zach Veach will step out of the number 26 Andretti Autosport Gainbridge car effective immediately. he will not return for the 2021 season.

Two statements released this morning via Andretti Autospport’s twitter:

The team will name a replacement in the next few days. This could be an opening for James Hinchcliffe to have a full time ride with the team next year.

Veach sits 20th in the 2020 standings with a best finish of 4th at Texas. Veach began his Indycar career in 2017 at Barber Motorsports Park. In 2019 he finished 18th in points.