Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing has finally confirmed the much-rumoured acquisition of 27-year old Japanese driver Hideki Mutoh ahead of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series.
Mutoh will pilot the #06 Formula Dream/Panasonic-backed Dallara-Honda in what will be his third full season of IndyCar competition, having earned rookie of the year honours with Andretti Green Racing in 2008.
"Hideki has shown he is able to adapt quickly to new challenges by finishing second overall in the Firestone Indy Lights series in 2007, when he competed on an oval for the first time,” NHLR co-owner Carl Haas noted, “The 2008 battle for the IndyCar Series rookie of the year in the newly-unified series was very close, with Hideki emerging as the winner. In his two years in the IndyCar Series, he has earned several podium finishes and we are looking forward to adding more."
Mutoh is a graduate of Honda's driver development programme, the Formula Dream Project, and progressed through various ladder series in Japan and Europe before arriving in the United States in 2007 to compete for Super Aguri Panther Racing in the Firestone Indy Lights series. Having finished second to champion Alex Lloyd, he made his IndyCar Series debut at the 2007 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway, again with Super Aguri Panther Racing, before moving to Andretti Green Racing for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
“Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing has always been known for their success and I am proud to add my name to all of those who have driven for the team before me,” the Japanese driver said, “I started watching IndyCar racing when Nigel Mansell came to race in the United States from F1, so I am happy to be racing for the same team he raced for. I have already taken my picture with his race car, which is in the lobby of the team's race shop, and I'm looking forward to starting the season.”
Mutoh's confirmation is expected to leave American hope Graham Rahal looking for a ride in 2010.