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SCCA confirms Runoffs at Indy in 2017

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The SCCA National Championship Runoffs will come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2017, the organization announced today. It confirms a report which broke last week from Motorsport.com.

The full release from IMS is linked below:

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Sports Car Club of America announced today that the IMS road course will be the site of the 2017 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, with race days Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

The event is unprecedented for both the Club and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, pitting the amateur National Championship event on the 14 turn, 2.439-mile road course that hosts the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

“Many Indianapolis 500 veterans have their racing roots in SCCA competition, so hosting the SCCA national championships at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a natural fit,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “The Runoffs will provide drivers who have dreamed of competing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway an opportunity to do so and will hopefully motivate some participants to continue on the path to compete in the Indianapolis 500 someday. It is going to be a tremendous event showcasing the talent and passion that makes SCCA racing so exciting.”

Indianapolis history and SCCA history are intrinsically linked. Countless SCCA graduates have competed in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” with Mark Donohue and Bobby Rahal earning both a Runoffs title and an Indy 500 win in their careers. Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice also competed in the Runoffs; current competitor Graham Rahal is the youngest Runoffs champion, and still has a chance to add his name to the Borg-Warner Trophy.

“In 2013, we announced that the Runoffs would go on an annual rotation, moving around the country with the goal of hitting bucket list tracks,” Eric Prill, SCCA Vice President/COO said. “We’ve done that, having gone from Road America to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to Daytona International Speedway, and will be at Mid-Ohio in 2016. But the visit to Indianapolis in 2017, a track that no other SafeRacer Club Racer will have a chance to compete on prior to the Runoffs, is truly unique and a dream come true for many of our racers.”

“As a racer, I know that the American dream of being a racecar driver starts with the Indianapolis 500,” Lisa Noble, SCCA President & CEO and Formula Vee racer, said. “IMS is an integral part of our history as we are a part of theirs. Many of the Speedway’s crew, workers, drivers and Indy 500 winners have their roots in the SCCA. Drivers such as Bobby and Graham Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Mark Donohue, Buddy Rice, Michael Andretti and Lyn St. James are just a few that raced in the SCCA Runoffs before reaching the Indy 500.

“I’m very moved by this significant moment in SCCA history as I am by the Speedway every time I enter the gate. Each of our Champions will have an incredibly special honor – to be crowned on the most hallowed ground in American motorsports. Racers will tell stories for decades about this first Runoffs at Indy. It will become legendary, and I cannot wait for our members to experience that in 2017.”

The SCCA National Championship Runoffs has crowned Club Racing National Champions in a winner-take-all, single race format since 1964. Through 27 separate races over three days, the 2015 edition recently crowned champions in 27 classes in the pinnacle event of amateur racing.

Founded in 1944, Sports Car Club of America, Inc. is a 67,500-member motorsports organization that incorporates all facets of autocross, rally and road racing at both amateur and professional levels. It annually sanctions more than 2,000 events through its 115 regions and professional subsidiary. Landmark events and series for the Club include the SafeRacer SCCA Club Racing program, which includes the U.S. Majors Tour; the Club Racing National Championship Runoffs® and The Tire Rack® SCCA Solo National Championships and ProSolo Championship at Lincoln, Neb.; the annual SCCA National Convention and Hall of Fame Induction; and experiential programs including the Tire Rack Starting Line School and Track Night in America driven by Tire Rack. For more information, please visit www.scca.com.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.