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Chip Ganassi Racing to return to Honda IndyCar power in 2017

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Chip Ganassi Racing Teams will switch to Honda power from Chevrolet in its Verizon IndyCar Series cars for 2017, the team announced Friday.

The switch is a multi-year deal, according to a media release.

In a sense, it’s a homecoming for the organization, as CGRT has earned nine of its 11 IndyCar championships and 77 of 102 overall race victories during 12 seasons of partnering together with Honda.

It also produced all three of Dario Franchitti’s Indianapolis 500 victories and Scott Dixon’s championship in 2013.

“We’ve had a long and successful relationship with Honda over the years and we look forward to getting it back on track,” Ganassi said. “I feel a little like I am going home after having previously spent 12 years with them.

“Much of our organization’s success has been with Honda power in our cars so we are all very excited.”

CGRT’s first IndyCar championship, with driver Jimmy Vasser, came with Honda Performance Development power in 1996. Honda first entered Indy car racing in 1993 and has amassed 219 race victories, 15 drivers’ championships, six competitive manufacturers’ championships and 11 Indianapolis 500 victories since 2004.

Team owner Chip Ganassi and Honda Performance Development President Art St. Cyr and CGRT Managing Director Mike Hull are expected to reveal further details of the new agreement in a media teleconference schedule for next Tuesday.

“The Honda-Ganassi association is one of the most successful in the history of Honda’s North American racing programs,” St. Cyr said in a statement. “We welcome the return of our partnership, and look forward to returning to Victory Circle together in 2017.”

In a statement supplied to NBC Sports, Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports thanks Ganassi for their contributions over the last three years.

“We are definitely disappointed. However, we are proud of the partnership and successes that Chevy experienced with Chip and his team, including their contributions to Chevrolet’s Manufacturer Championships over the past several years, plus eight race wins and Scott Dixon’s championship in 2015.”

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.