Justin Wilson has first ride of 2015 confirmed, back with Shank at Sebring

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The ongoing offseason saga of whether Justin Wilson will or will not have a ride now has a brief interlude:

He does, with a familiar team, in an unfamiliar car, in a different series.

The lanky, likable Englishman will make a one-race cameo as third driver aboard the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda, co-driving with Ozz Negri and John Pew for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The team confirmed the signing on Wednesday.

This will be Wilson’s first start in the team’s new car, second Sebring with the team, fourth Sebring overall and 14th overall start with MSR.

He’ll fill in for Matt McMurry, as the teenager is scheduled to race in the IMSA Prototype Lites races at Sebring during the week.

“Everyone at Michael Shank Racing has been working so hard to be ready for Sebring,” Wilson said in a team release.

“It seems like a big break between the 24 and Sebring, but they’ve been at it non stop. The test was really productive for them so we’ll have a good bit of data to start with when we head down there. It is a very demanding race track and you never know what can happen, but hopefully we can help get Honda a win there.”

As for Wilson’s IndyCar prospects, there are only four expected full-time seats remaining: one at Andretti Autosport, the second seat at KV Racing Technology, and the two at Dale Coyne Racing.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor BitNile.com: “It is great for BitNile.com to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”