James Hinchcliffe looked as though he was going to miss out on his chance of a 2011 IndyCar series seat after Oriol Servia was faster at the pre-season testing at Barber Motorsports Park and duly got the nod to take the helm of the Newman/Haas #2 Telemundo entry, which is all the team had funding for at the start of the season.
But now with new money coming in from Sprott Inc., a leading independent asset manager based in Toronto, the team is finally able to confirm that it will be fielding Canadian driver Hinchcliffe in the #06 car not just for Alabama, but for all this year's North American events.
"I'm sure we can do Canadian sport proud!" said Hinchcliffe, 24, who was runner-up in last year's Firestone Indy Lights championship, earning victories at Long Beach, Edmonton and Chicagoland along the way. "Finally making my IndyCar debut really is a dream come true and the end of a 15-year journey getting me to this point.
"I used to think that driving for Newman/Haas Racing at some point in my career would be amazing, but to get to do it in my rookie season is beyond words," he continued. "I am only the third true rookie to drive for the team and I think that says a lot about the relationship we have forged over the last few months."
The three previous rookies with the team were Nigel Mansell, Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal - indicating the big shoes Hinchliffe is stepping into and now has to live up to.