IndyCar stars fill field for Wheldon – Wilson memorial kart race

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Saturday brings the third annual Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am Memorial karting race at New Castle Motorsports Park in New Castle, Ind.

The event, established in memory of the IndyCar driver killed in a wreck at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011, has the added weight of honoring Justin Wilson, who died on Aug. 24 as a result of injuries suffered at Pocono Raceway the day before.

The race, which is filled with IndyCar drivers and owners, will raise money for the Dan Wheldon Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association and Wilson Children’s Fund. The first two races were won by Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan, who were sponsored by Big Machine Records.

The record company has chosen Josef Newgarden to represent it in its effort to win a third-straight race.

“I’m hoping we get a lot of people out to New Castle Motorsports Park,” Newgarden told IndyCar.com. “It’s such a cool event even though I’ve lost the last two years. You’ll see a lot of IndyCar stars racing on Saturday and we do this every year to honor Dan, but this year we’re also honoring Justin and helping his family, so I hope everyone comes out.”

Also in the field is James Hinchcliffe, who will be competing in a race for the first time since being injured in a hard crash during practice for the Indianapolis 500 in May. His first time in a cockpit actually came the week of the season finale at Sonoma, when the Canadian piloted a two-seater over the Golden Gate at Sonoma with the championship trophy  on board.

Also included in the field: Scott Dixon (Target); Will Power (Indianapolis Motor Speedway); Marco Andretti (Bell Helmets); James Hinchcliffe (Novitec 1); Ed Carpenter (Machine of Awesome); Gabby Chaves (American Honda), Sage Karam (Comfort Revolution); Sarah Fisher (Firestone 2), Ryan Briscoe (Novitec 2); Jay Howard (Motorsports Graphic Designs); Spencer Pigot (Dan Wheldon Foundation/Bill Simpson 2); Jack Harvey (Performance Tire Service) and Matthew Brabham (AFS/Stellricht).

Not in the field are James Davison and Sebastian Saavedra, who had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts. They will be replaced by Shelby Blackstock and AJ Foyt IV.

Gates open at 7 a.m. and admission is free. All pro drivers will participate in a public autograph session from 11:30 am – 12:15 pm. The 1-hour, 45 minute race begins at 12:45 p.m. ET.

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.”