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Chip Ganassi would sign James Hinchcliffe ‘in a second’ if he had a sponsor

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Add Chip Ganassi to the list of team owners interested in James Hinchcliffe, along with the same major obstacle to keeping the popular Canadian in the NTT IndyCar Series.

“If I had a sponsor, I’d have (Hinchcliffe) in a second,” Ganassi told NBCSports.com after a Saturday news conference to announce the re-signing of Kurt Busch. “I’d love to have him. It takes more than he and I wanting to work together. But I’d have him in a minute.”

Just as with Dale Coyne and Bobby Rahal (both of whom confirmed their interest this week to NBCSports.com), Ganassi has spoken with Hinchliffe since his abrupt firing by Arrow McLaren Racing SP.

The holdup is the millions in sponsorship needed to field a car for Hinchcliffe.

Chip Ganassi Racing announced last month that it will add a third Dallara-Honda entry next season for Marcus Ericsson, who will be teamed with Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist.

The team has fielded four cars in IndyCar as recently as the 2012 season, and Ganassi seemed willing to expand again if Hinchcliffe could bring the funding.

“We’ve talked, and he knows where we’re at,” Ganassi said. “He knows how to find us. He knows where we’re at, and we know how to find him.

“It’s just a matter of, at the end of the day, in all these deals, somebody has to come with the sponsorship. I’m not asking him to do that. But I’ve got my hands full with what I’ve got right now.”

Hinchcliffe has driven full time in IndyCar for the past nine seasons, earning six victories and 17 podium finishes in 139 starts.

In his first public comments Thursday since Arrow McLaren SP signed Oliver Askew and Pato O’Ward, Hinchcliffe said being released “shocked” him but struck an optimistic tone about finding a new ride, which Ganassi wants to see happen even if it isn’t his team.

“I hope so,” Ganassi said. “I wouldn’t want to see the series without him.”

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).