UPDATE: Piquet involved in altercation at Richmond

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UPDATE (3:26 p.m. ET): Turner Scott Motorsports has confirmed that driver Nelson Piquet Jr. was involved in last night’s altercation at Richmond International Raceway. A statement issued by the team says:

“Turner Scott Motorsports can confirm that an incident occurred near the Driver/Owner parking lot of Richmond International Raceway following the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Friday, April 26th. Several members of another race team confronted a group that included Nelson Piquet Jr., resulting in the arrest of two individuals from the other race team. TSM will have no further comment on the incident as the matter is an active case with the Henrico Police Department.”

USA Today’s Jeff Gluck reports that NASCAR is also withholding comment on the incident, citing the ongoing police investigation.

UPDATE (Sat., 11:45 a.m. ET): Local police have identified the two Richard Childress Racing team members that were arrested following a Friday night altercation at Richmond International Raceway.

Michael Scearce, 50, and Thomas Costello, 35, are members of RCR’s No. 2 NASCAR Nationwide Series team that features Brian Scott as the driver. Scott was involved in a post-race confrontation on pit road with Nelson Piquet Jr. shortly after the completion of the NNS event on Friday night, and was kicked below the belt by Piquet in the fracas.

According to a Henrico (Va.) Police release, Scearce has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault and Costello has been charged with one count. They were both released from custody this morning.

Late last night, the police disclosed that an incident took place at the track at approximately 11:15 p.m. local time. According to them, what began as a verbal argument in the infield turned into a physical altercation near the track’s driver/owner lot and that two adult males were taken into custody.

Shortly afterwards, RCR confirmed that members of its team were involved. In addition, Bob Pockrass of The Sporting News relayed word from multiple sources that personnel from Turner Scott Motorsports and its driver, Nelson Piquet Jr., were talking to police in the track’s motorhome lot.

Scott and Piquet had been battling hard for position in the final laps of the race, and after Piquet kicked Scott on pit road, both drivers were subsequently summoned to the NASCAR hauler. Piquet later apologized for his actions.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.