IndyCar: Hinchcliffe “progressing well” but not yet cleared to drive

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Three days after getting hit in the helmet by a piece of bodywork during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and being diagnosed with a concussion, James Hinchcliffe is “progressing well” according to INDYCAR medical director Dr. Michael Olinger but has not yet been cleared to drive.

In a medical update released this afternoon by INDYCAR, it was disclosed that the Andretti Autosport driver was evaluated today by the series’ medical team in conjunction with its neurosurgical consultant.

While Hinchcliffe was not cleared to return to the cockpit of the No. 27 United Fiber and Data Honda, Olinger said that he has been cleared to resume “light training” with his athletic trainer.

The update states that Hinchcliffe will be re-evaluated on Thursday.

On Lap 57 of Saturday’s Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Hinchcliffe’s helmet was struck while he and the rest of the field were going down the Hulman Boulevard back stretch.

He was able to turn his car off-course at Turn 7 and after stopping, he was taken away on a stretcher while holding his head. He was then transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis but was released later that night.

Hinchcliffe made a brief appearance on Sunday at IMS during the start of Indianapolis 500 practice before heading back to his home in the city for more rest.

For the time being, E.J. Viso is filling in for Hinchcliffe – who took to Twitter today to thank his supporters.

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.”