By: Spencer Neff
December 9, 2020
While the calendar still reads 2020, there’s work being done throughout the NTT IndyCar Series paddock in preparation for the upcoming season. Here’s the latest for the 2021 season.
Montoya joins Arrow McLaren SP for Indy 500
After three years away from IndyCar, one of the series’ most accomplished drivers will return for the month of May. On Wednesday morning, Arrow McLaren SP announced two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya will join the team for the 105th running in May, driving a third car alongside its full-time IndyCar outfit of Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist.
“I’m very excited to be joining Arrow McLaren SP for the Indianapolis 500,” said Montoya. “I have some great history with McLaren from my F1 days and I’m looking forward to making some more at next year’s Indianapolis 500.”
Montoya will be attempting to race in his sixth “500”, after winning his 2000 debut with Chip Ganassi Racing and again in 2015 with Team Penske. In his career, Montoya has run 93 races in CART and IRL/IndyCar sanctioning and won 15 times (the last of which was at St. Petersburg in 2016) but the 1999 CART Champion has not raced in the series since the 2017 “500”, where he finished sixth after starting 18th.
“Arrow McLaren SP is thrilled to have a driver of Juan’s caliber join the team for next year’s Indianapolis 500,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt.
“His experience will elevate the entire team, including our young, talented lineup of Pato and Felix. When you think that he’s only started the Indy 500 five times but won it twice, that’s impressive.”
The return to IndyCar and the “500” also marks a reunion for Montoya and McLaren. In 2005 and 2006, Montoya drove for the McLaren Formula 1 team, winning three Grands Prix in 2005 with the famed constructor.
“I’m delighted for Juan to rejoin the McLaren family and return to the Indianapolis 500 with Arrow McLaren SP,” said Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing.
“He is an intensely competitive, highly versatile driver, with deep experience at the top level of motorsport and a big following. Having him with us at the 500 next year will be great for the team and INDYCAR fans everywhere.”
Image By Arrow McLaren SP
Colton Herta joins No. 26 Andretti Autosport entry
Although Colton Herta will begin 2021 as part of Andretti Autosport, he will pilot a different entry than his first two years in the series.
On Tuesday, the team announced Herta will drive the No. 26, with sponsorship from Gainbridge.
“We’re really excited to welcome back Gainbridge and look forward to seeing what Colton can do in 2021,” said Michael Andretti, chairman and CEO of Andretti Autosport.
“Colton’s career has been on a steady rise. We’re confident that he will continue to grow and advance, and we’ll see the No. 26 in victory lane soon.”
After entering the series in 2018 with Zach Veach in the No. 26 car in 2018, Gainbridge became the presenting sponsor for the Indianapolis 500 in 2019.
“I’m really excited for this new partnership with Gainbridge, they’ve been a huge supporter of Andretti Autosport and INDYCAR as a whole. The livery is wonderful to look at and will pop at every track we go to; I can’t wait to see that Gainbridge livery at the front of the field,” said Herta.
During his rookie season in 2019, Herta became the youngest race winner and pole winner in series history, ending the season with two victories (Circuit of The Americas and Laguna Seca) and three pole positions (Road America, Portland and Laguna Seca).
In 2020, Herta earned one victory, winning from the pole at the second Mid-Ohio race on September 13.
“Colton has quickly shown in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES that talent and drive produce winning results. Gainbridge is proud to align with Colton and Andretti Autosport to represent our brand and values,” said Dan Towriss, CEO and President, Group1001 and the Gainbridge brand.
“Winning demands consistency and the confidence and consistency demonstrated by Colton makes him a great fit to represent Group1001 and Gainbridge. Additionally, we look forward to remaining part of the Andretti Autosport family where we can accelerate the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda program.”
Image By ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT
Header Image By Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR