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Franchitti, Cheever, McLaren nominated for Hall of Fame at IMS Museum

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Two past Indianapolis 500-winning drivers and a legendary constructor have been nominated for consideration at the Auto Racing Hall of Fame at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Dario Franchitti won the race three times (2007, 2010, 2012), with Eddie Cheever Jr. winning in 1998. Meanwhile Bruce McLaren’s cars were linked with success at the Brickyard.

The full release with further details is below:

Two Indianapolis 500 winners and one of the most legendary names in motorsport are the newest nominees for consideration for the Auto Racing Hall of Fame at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Bruce McLaren drives the #11 McLaren BRM M4B during the Daily Mail Race of Champions on 12 March 1967 at the Brands Hatch circuit in Fawkham, Great Britain. (Photo by Getty Images)
McLaren in 1967. (Photo by Getty Images)

New to the ballot in 2017 are 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Junior; three-time winner of the May classic Dario Franchitti; and legendary driver and constructor Bruce McLaren.

The three newest contenders join 13 holdover nominees to form an incredibly talented ballot from which an esteemed panel of auto racing journalists, participants and historians will select.

Cheever won five IndyCar Series races, including his signature victory at the Brickyard in 1998, while his eponymous racing team won six races in the series, including a 2002 win by Tomas Scheckter at Michigan. Cheever made 132 career starts in Formula 1 with nine podium finishes, including two second-place results.

24 May 1998: Eddie Cheever Jr. #51 gives the thumbs up after winning the 82nd Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Laforet /Allsport
Cheever in 1998. (Photo by Vincent Laforet /Allsport)

Franchitti won 31 races in his illustrious IndyCar series career, taking the Indianapolis 500 in 2007, 2010 and 2012. The Scottish-born driver won four series championships (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) and lost a fifth on a tie-breaker in 1999. Franchitti also was part of a winning effort at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2008.

McLaren was a highly successful driver, designer, constructor and engineer, whose name lives on in the eponymous Formula 1 team that has captured eight constructor’s championships and 12 driver’s titles. As a driver McLaren won four Formula 1 races, two Can-Am Series championships, and co-drove to a win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 with fellow Kiwi Chris Amon.

The 2017 inductees will be announced on “Founders Day,” March 20, 2017, the 108th anniversary of the day the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Company was officially formed.

The Auto Racing Hall of Fame at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum honors and celebrates individual contribution to the sport of automobile racing. It was founded in 1952 under the auspices of the Contest Board of the American Automobile Association (AAA). The Hall of Fame was moved to the original Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum in 1962 under the direction of then-Speedway president Anton “Tony” Hulman, Jr.

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.