IndyCar: Simona de Silvestro confirmed in fourth Andretti entry for St. Pete

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We have an answer to the fourth car at Andretti Autosport puzzle, and it’s Simona de Silvestro.

The fan favorite, who raced full-time in the Verizon IndyCar Series from 2010 through 2013, will return to the series in what will be a one-off race with Andretti at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Further races may be possible.

Still, this represents de Silvestro’s best chance yet in IndyCar after previous stints with KV Racing Technology and HVM Racing.

De Silvestro is something of a St. Pete specialist, having finished fourth in 2011 and posting a career-best start of third and solid finish of sixth in 2013.

“I am very excited to be joining Andretti Autosport and to become part of a team with such a successful history,” de Silvestro said. “It feels really special to have been given this opportunity to drive for them. I also want to thank Michael for believing in me and I can’t wait to start working with the team. Also, I am looking forward to get back behind the wheel of an Indy car.”

Added team owner Michael Andretti, “We are really excited to have Simona come on board with the team for St. Pete. She will be a great fit for the team, and hopefully we’ll be able to build on the program, eventually taking it from this race to future events and maybe even a full-season relationship. Fans should stay connected with the team to hear more about our potential future with Simona.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).