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Travis Pastrana back for Race of Champions in Miami

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Action sports legend and Race of Champions veteran Travis Pastrana will be back in action at next year’s Race of Champions in Miami, to be held January 2017. It will be his eighth appearance in the event.

He’s the fourth announced driver, joining fellow Americans Ryan Hunter-Reay and Kurt Busch, and four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel. Those three were announced with the race itself earlier this month.

“The greatest part about the Race Of Champions is that you take all these legends and the best in the world from Formula 1, IndyCar and NASCAR and put them all together, but not necessarily in their speciality,” Pastrana said in an RoC release.

“Anybody can win at any time. I took two wins against Sebastian Vettel, who was the Formula 1 champion at the time – in his home country Germany – in a Porsche and an Aston Martin. Then he beats me in Beijing in a rally car, which should have been my speciality. Everyone always has a shot because there are so many vehicles that no one’s ever driven or had experience in, so everyone makes a lot of mistakes.”

“The Race Of Champions is amazing and the atmosphere’s awesome. It’s usually after the season’s over or before the new one starts so the shenanigans going on in the hotel are pretty ridiculous. Some of the best memories of my life have been with these drivers at ROC. Everyone’s super competitive but it’s just about going out there and having fun. So I’m coming back to the Race Of Champions in Miami with a big smile on my face. Game on…”

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.