Andretti Autosport has announced today that James Hinchcliffe will return to the team for three races of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series. Hinchcliffe will drive the #29 Genesys Honda for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis 500 and the Texas 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
It was announced at the end of October that Hinchcliffe had lost his seat at Arrow Schmidt Peterson after the team merged with McLaren Racing to form McLaren Racing SP; with Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew being brought in as an entirely new line-up. With the news coming late in the year, when many other teams had already decided their line-ups for the 2020 season, it soon became apparent that Hinchliffe would find it tough to be back racing full-time in IndyCar in 2020.
Some positive news came Hinchcliffe’s way last month, however, when Hinchcliffe announced that he had secured the funds to race in at least the Indianapolis 500 after securing new sponsorship from Genesys. At the time, the team he would compete with was not announced. Today’s announcement now confirms that James will return to Andretti Autosport for three races this year, returning to the team for the first time since 2014.
“Honestly, it’s so nice being able to announce some more good news,” Hinchcliffe said today. “It’s no secret that the 2020 season isn’t going to be exactly what we were expecting, but being able to start the new year with the announcement that Genesys was stepping in to save our season and partner with us was awesome, and now adding the next big piece in my reunion with Andretti Autosport just really makes it feel like the momentum is going our way.
“I can’t wait to work with this group again and to get back behind the wheel of an IndyCar!”
After his first season in IndyCar racing back in 2011, Hinchcliffe would make the move to Andretti Autosport for 2012 to replace NASCAR-bound Danica Patrick in the now-famous GoDaddy car. 2013 would be Hinchcliffe’s best season in IndyCar to date, with James scoring his first win at the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg before going on to take the top spot of the podium on the streets of Brazil and at the oval of Iowa Speedway later in the year.
At the end of the 2014 season, James would make the move from Andretti to Arrow Schmidt Peterson, where he would remain until the end of last year’s season when it was announced that he would be replaced by a new line-up of Askew and O’Ward when McLaren came on board to partner with the team.
Now, James will return to Andretti Autosport for three planned races of the seventeen-race calendar that makes up the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series. Hinchcliffe’s first race in the #29 Genesys Honda will come at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After that, he will attempt to qualify for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500; an event that he took pole position for back in 2016 just one year after suffering a season-ending crash in 2015 Indy 500 qualifying. Hinchcliffe’s part-time campaign this season is planned to end at Texas Motor Speedway in June.
“We’re really pleased to be able to welcome James back into the Andretti team,” Team owner, Michael Andretti, said in today’s announcement. “He has, for sure, been knocked down a few times by this sport and to be able to help him meet the challenge is really special. We had a lot of fun, and some great successes with James when he was part of the team before, and we’re really looking forward to picking up where we left off.
“I’d also like to welcome Genesys to the Andretti family for their first experience in INDYCAR racing. We now have three, major Indiana-based companies in our portfolio, along with several other brands that call Indianapolis home. It’s special to see these companies supporting Indiana’s home sport of INDYCAR racing, and we’re proud to carry them each with us. We are looking forward to working with James and the Genesys team to deliver both on and off-track success.”
The #29 seat at Andretti Autosport is thought to have been set to go the way of Fernando Alonso. The deal is believed to have been all but confirmed until Honda Japan vetoed the signing; reportedly due to the bad blood between the Japanese manufacturer and Alonso from their time together at McLaren in Formula 1.
The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series will kick-off with the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 15.