Andretti finalises 2018 IndyCar line-up

Speedcafe.com

Thursday 14th September, 2017 - 10:00am

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Zach Veach pic: IndyCar.com

Andretti Autosport has named Zach Veach as the new driver of its #26 Honda for next year’s Verizon IndyCar Series.

Veach replaces 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato in the seat, and joins Ryan Hunter-Reay, last start winner Alexander Rossi, and Marco Andretti at the team.

The 22-year-old has two IndyCar starts to his name, having filled in for the injured JR Hildebrand in an Ed Carpenter Chevrolet at Barber Motorsports Park, then driven in the Indianapolis 500 in a third AJ Foyt Chevrolet.

Veach’s signing represents a reunification between the two parties, given that he spent five years at Andretti Autosport on the Mazda Road To Indy ladder across all three ‘rungs’ (USF2000, Pro Mazda, Indy Lights).

The American finished third in Indy Lights with Andretti in 2014 and has won a total of six races in the tier below IndyCar.

“I’ve been thinking about this day since St Petersburg in 2010 when I sat beside (Andretti Autosport CEO) Michael Andretti announcing that I’d be competing in USF2000 for his team,’’ said Veach.

“To be driving in the Verizon IndyCar Series with them is a dream come true.”

Sato is expected to move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, which would expand to two cars full-time.

In other signing news, Spencer Pigot has been promoted to a full-time drive with Ed Carpenter Racing.

Pigot will move across to the #21 Chevrolet, replacing Hildebrand.

The 23-year-old has driven part-time for ECR since mid-2016, contesting the road course and street races while team owner Carpenter takes the wheel for oval races.

He has three top 10 finishes to his name this year, and also finished 18th in the Indianapolis 500 with Juncos Racing, putting him 20th in the series standings.

Hildebrand, by comparison, has two podiums to his name and currently sits 15th in the points, having started all but the Barber race.

“It was a tough decision, with our history with JR and everything he’s brought to our team and done for us, but I’m excited to have Spencer be in a full-time situation and continue his development and hopefully winning races real quick,” said Carpenter.

Carpenter also stated that he could field Hildebrand, who only took up a full-time drive at the team this year to replace the Penske-bound Josef Newgarden, at Indianapolis next year pending sponsorship.

The team owner will continue to drive car #20 on ovals next year, but a replacement for Pigot’s part-time slot has not yet been named.

The 2017 IndyCar Series draws to a close this weekend (September 15-17 local time) at Sonoma.