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.

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.”

Gainbridge Becomes Presenting Sponsor of Indianapolis 500- The Story and Some Thoughts

Indycar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway continued their momentum with today’s announcement of Gainbridge as the presenting sponsor of the Indianapolis 500. The four year deal was announced by Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles at the track this afternoon.

Gainbridge is a part Group 1001, which has a multiyear sponsorship agreement with driver Zach Veach, who drives for Andretti Autosport. Gainbridge will be the primary sponsor on his number 26 car this coming season.

Gainbridge is an online financial services platform which has $37 billion in assets. they currently operate in Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey with plans to be in other states this year.

They were also the presenting sponsor for the Indiana Women in Tech LPGA tournament held at the Brickyard Crossing in 2018.

Like Speedway, which became the official fuel and convenience stores of the NTT Indycar Series, Group 1001 is an Indiana based company with a national reach.

Quick Thoughts

Indycar and IMS have put together two sponsorship deals within a month, an incredible accomplishment for any series.

This is the second company which sponsors a car to expand their involvement to the series or the 500.  It is great to see that these commitments are genuine and long term.

I like that the Gainbridge name on the new logo is separated from the race logo. The Penn Grade name was too much a part of the race logo for my taste. I could live without the “#This Is May” hashtag on the emblem.

The best news of all- cars will be on track in just eight days!