Conway preparing for pre-Christmas test with ECR

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After a successful 2013 in both IndyCars and sports cars, British driver Mike Conway is looking forward to getting 2014 underway in earnest with a test session next week at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway for Ed Carpenter Racing.

Conway, who won Detroit Race 1 for Dale Coyne Racing and also claimed four race wins with his co-drivers over in the FIA World Endurance Championship, recently had a seat fitting in the No. 20 ECR Chevrolet (pictured) in advance of the Dec. 18-19 test in Florida.

The soft-spoken street course dynamo will drive the No. 20 in all road and street events in the 2014 IndyCar Series, while team namesake and owner Carpenter will drive it on the ovals.

“It feels good to run the IndyCar before the holidays,” Conway said. “I’ve never been able to test an IndyCar before the first of the year, so this opportunity next week at Sebring really has me excited.

“It will be my first chance to drive the Chevrolet engine also. I’m looking forward to that aspect of the test too.”

Conway will continue his work in sports cars next season as well, recently landing a gig with Toyota’s WEC program as its test and reserve driver.

All in all, it’ll be a busy 2014 for the Kent, England native as he looks to not only help Toyota overtake Audi in the WEC but also help Ed Carpenter Racing move toward the front of the IndyCar pecking order.

“I can’t wait to get started with the ECR guys,” Conway said of his IndyCar duties. “I’m very excited to run with a team like Ed’s. I have worked with many of the crew guys here before and they have a very strong organization.

“This team should be a solid effort in 2014.”

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“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,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “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.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“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,” Hinchcliffe said. “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.”