Reports: Ryan Briscoe to replace James Hinchcliffe in Indy 500

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While Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has not made an official announcement yet, media reports out of Indianapolis have Ryan Briscoe replacing James Hinchcliffe in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

WISH-TV was among the first to report that Briscoe, the 2012 pole winner of the 500, will be named to fill in for Hinchcliffe.

Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star also tweeted “expect Briscoe to drive car” as Hinchcliffe’s replacement in a Thursday morning press conference.

If the reports are confirmed in Thursday’s press conference, the 33-year-old Australian native would make his 10th career start in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Hinchcliffe is continuing to recover from a horrific crash Monday while practicing for the 500. He suffered an injury to his pelvic area, as well as upper left thigh.

He had just completed a lap of 223.916 mph when his car slammed almost head-on into the Turn 3 wall.

Dr. Timothy Pohlman, who performed surgery on Hinchcliffe shortly after he arrived at IU Health Methodist Hospital, told IndyCar.com just how grave Hinchcliffe’s condition was.

“(Hinchcliffe is) stable and improving,” Pohlman said. “His condition was critical upon his arrival and I think the IndyCar system as a whole needs to be commended for how well they can take care of drivers in this situation.”

Briscoe has made five starts in the 500 for Team Penske, three for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and one for Luczo-Dragon Racing.

His best finishes to date in the 500 were fifth-place showings in 2007 with Luczo-Dragon and 2012 for Team Penske.

Briscoe finished 10th in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings last season but has not competed in the series this season.

Briscoe’s tenure behind the wheel as Hinchcliffe’s replacement could be just for Sunday’s race. He’s slated to be the third driver for Corvette Racing in Corvette C7.R in the GTE-Pro class at the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Le Mans test day is May 31, while the race is June 13-14.

Including Indianapolis, there are 11 races remaining on the IndyCar schedule for this season.

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”