The NTT IndyCar Series hosted two full days of media availability for all drivers competing in the 2021 season. The virtual event took place in Indianapolis and provided a look at all of the interesting storylines heading into the season-opening race next month at Barber Motorsports Park.
Drivers that participated on Thursday included Conor Daly, Scott McLaughlin, Josef Newgarden, Ed Jones, Helio Castroneves, Takuma Sato, Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmie Johnson, Will Power, Colton Herta, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Romain Grosjean, and Graham Rahal. Friday’s list of drivers included Max Chilton, Rinus VeeKay, Dalton Kellett, Ed Carpenter, Alex Palou, Marcus Ericsson, Simon Pagenaud, James Hinchcliffe, Pato O’Ward, Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Jack Harvey, Felix Rosenqvist, and Charlie Kimball.
Special thanks to Dave Furst, Arni Sribhen, Kate Davis, Curt Cavin, Paul Kelly, and the entire communications team at IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for making all of this possible. A recap from the content days is below.
Pietro Fittipaldi will drive the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing Honda on the ovals this season, including the Indianapolis 500 in May. Fittipaldi will be sharing the ride with former Haas F1 teammate Romain Grosjean. This will be Fittipaldi’s first Indy 500 race, should he qualify.
Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, and Ryan Hunter-Reay are all in contract years this season. Hunter-Reay returns to Andretti Autosport with longtime sponsor DHL on his No. 28 Chevrolet. Power and Pagenaud are hoping to return to the Team Penske stable, but know they will have to perform this season. All three drivers have won the Indy 500 and a series championship during their careers.
Colton Herta said that his father Bryan will be his race strategist this year. Herta has transitioned from the No. 88 Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport team to the full Andretti Autosport No. 26 entry with Gainbridge sponsorship. The 20-year old finished in third place in the championship standings last season.
Barber Motorsports Park announced that they will be able to have fans for the April 18 season-opening race. St Petersburg also announced that they will be able to host 20,000 fans for their event the following week. NBC Sports and IndyCar recently announced the telecast schedule for the 2021 season.
James Hinchcliffe confirmed that he suffered an undisclosed injury during the offseason that required rehabilitation. The Canadian declined to elaborate on what the injury was, but he said that he is fully recovered and ready to begin his full-season with Andretti Autosport in the No. 29 Honda. Hinchcliffe signed a one-year deal with the team, with an option for the 2022 season.
RLL Racing unveiled an all-red livery for Graham Rahal that is a throwback to his father’s 1986 Indianapolis 500 victory. Graham will drive this throwback livery at Portland and Long Beach later this year. The team has announced several of their planned liveries for this season, as they celebrate 30 years of racing.
Max Chilton confirmed that he is returning to Carlin Racing in the No. 59 Chevrolet for all of the races with the exception of Texas and Gateway. The team has not named a driver for those oval races but Chilton stated that the team will likely field a second car for the Indianapolis 500 in May.
The action heats up in about one month when cars hit the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a two-day test on the 2.5-mile oval. The 2021 season begins April 18 with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. The race will air live at 3:30 PM ET on NBC.