INDIANAPOLIS – As expected, Ryan Briscoe has been officially confirmed as driver of the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda for this year’s Indianapolis 500, replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe.
“We explored quite a few options and felt confident in Briscoe,” team co-owner Sam Schmidt said in a release. “We were glad he was available and willing to drive for us with such short notice. Obviously this was not a situation we were expecting to be in for the biggest race of the year but we’re making the best of it.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with James [Hinchcliffe] and his family right now while we work through the details of finding his replacement. We’re excited to have an accomplished veteran in the seat of the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car.”
Said Briscoe, “First and foremost, I feel absolutely terrible for Hinch. I wish him the best and a speedy recovery. Under the circumstances, I’m thrilled to have been given the opportunity to be here and fill in for him. I really hope to do a great job for Arrow Electronics, Lucas Oil and the SPM team, and I’m looking forward to being back here in the Indy 500 again.”
Per the release, the car will move to the rear of the field due to a driver change.
Schmidt will add to the announcement in a press conference Thursday morning in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center.
Briscoe, who is set to make his 10th Indianapolis 500 start (2005, 2007-2014) on Sunday, will have a “refamiliarization session” as termed by INDYCAR at 12:15 p.m. ET.
While Briscoe is a 10-year series veteran dating to 2005, he has not yet driven the new manufacturer aero kits introduced for this year.
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.
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 only would be fitting if 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 — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.