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Grace Autosport confirms it won’t field entry in 100th Indy 500

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Last year, Grace Autosport announced its intentions to field a car in the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, but on Wednesday has confirmed that it will not be part of this race.

The program wasn’t part of Monday’s release of the entry list.

The Beth Paretta-led group issued a press release on Wednesday morning and did not mention Katherine Legge within the release; Legge had been tabbed as the team’s driver provided it found a chassis and engine partner for the month.

Grace Autosport announced today that it will not compete in this year’s 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, 2016.

Over the past year the Grace Autosport team was able to assemble a manufacturer partner, sponsor partners, educational partners, funding, driver and crew members, but the missing component was a viable race car to compete in the May race, despite great interest in the program. The reality of the shortage of feasible cars is reflected in only 33 cars entered for the 100th Running of the Indy 500 this year.

“We met with many teams in the IndyCar Paddock late last season to determine partnership feasibility and discovered numerous teams had chosen to scale back their plans for 2016,” said Team Principal, Beth Paretta. “We were ready to announce a team partnership for the Indy 500 at the Grand Prix of Long Beach in mid-April but a change in terms proved unsound for Grace’s sponsor partners and unfortunately we had to step away from the deal.”

“The consolidation of teams and the decrease of entries in 2016 reduced the available options for us. Our partner spoke with Dallara about buying a new car after Long Beach but there wasn’t a current 2016 car available in time for the 500. We evaluated an available chassis as late as last week but there wasn’t enough time to acquire all the parts needed to rebuild the car safely. Because of this sequence of events we will not campaign a car in this year’s Indy 500.”

“As I said last summer, Grace Autosport was not interested in just making the grid and running at the back. We wanted to put forth a respectable effort and we wanted to be competitive, while keeping safety at the very forefront of our program. We apologize to the many fans that have reached out to offer their support, which has been incredible. The good news is that we will not give up and are now working closely with our partners to map out Grace’s future.”

“The Grace Autosport initiative is far more than a race program,” added Paretta. “Concurrent to building the race team, we have been assembling commercial partners and the essential pieces for our STEM educational initiatives to reach the community and the classroom that we set forth a year ago. Thank you again to the many fans for the continued notes of support and appreciation since our announcement last May. We look forward to seeing all of you at the races in the near future.”

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.

VEACH OUT: Driver elects to vacate seat for rest of season

“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.”