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Hinchcliffe wins Andretti's Go Daddy race seat

Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe is to take over the Go Daddy-sponsored Andretti Autosports seat recently vacated by Danica Patrick for the 2012 season.
James Hinchcliffe has been signed up as the new driver of the Go Daddy-sponsored #27 Andretti Autosports Chevrolet-powered car, according to reports in the USA Today.

The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year winner had been left without a seat after the shock announcement that iconic team Newman/Haas were closing down their open wheel racing operation due to a lack of financial backing. That was despite a successful year for both the team as a whole: Hinchcliffe finished fourth three times, and his team mate Oriol Servia ended up clinching fourth place in the championship standings behind Dario Franchitti, Will Power and Scott Dixon.

The Go Daddy car had previously been driven by Danica Patrick, who has now exited the series to compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series full-time. Her personal sponsor, internet services company Go Daddy, had pledged to remain in the sport despite Danica's departure and to continue their primary sponsorship of an Andretti Autosports-operated car in 2012 - provided they could find someone suitable in PR terms to drive it.

"I'm stepping into her heels, if you will," Hinchcliffe told USA Today, cheerfully embracing the mental image that his words evoked. He's likely to be used in Go Daddy's distinctive TV and online advertising, and quipped: "If I have to be part of racy advertisements, that's fine, [but] I don't think it'll be good for their marketing if they put me in a bikini!"

Initially Go Daddy had all-but inked a deal with Dan Wheldon to take the #27 race seat, as he was seen as one of the few available drivers with the star power to replace Danica in the distinctive black-and-lime-green Go Daddy corporate livery. Tragically, the events at Las Vegas in October changed all that - and it's something that Hinchcliffe admits will be in his mind when he climbs into the cockpit this season.

"To know that I was the next guy in line [to Dan] and thought of along the same lines is an incredibly humbling thing, and it makes me really proud," he said. "I'm going to think about him every time I get in that car. There's no doubt that a part of me will be driving for Dan this year."

Once Hinchcliffe was released into the driver market by the closure of Newman/Haas at the end of November, Go Daddy were immediately interested - attracted not only by the 25-year-old's obvious driving talent and winning, quirky personality, but also by his online marketing savvy that saw him set up the distinctive 'Hinchtown' website five years ago and also enthusiastically embrace social media channels. "We can do a lot of fun stuff together," said Hinchcliffe of the match with Go Daddy.

"You also have to stand out, because there's a lot of guys who can drive a car fast," he continued. "At first people thought I was nuts. As they years went on, the site started to get its own personality."

Fort Lauderdale may be season finale

The Indianapolis Star has quoted IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard as saying that a street circuit race at Fort Lauderdale is likely to be be added to the provisional 2012 calendar, as the season finale event.

"I'm pretty sure it's going to happen," the paper reports Bernard as saying.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Danica Patrick speaks to the press after setting the fastest time in Thursday practice at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 2011 season finale. [Picture credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media]
Danica Patrick crosses the start/finish line of the track on the streets of Toronto. July 2011. [Picture credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
Danica Patrick [Picture credit: IndyCar media]
James Hinchcliffe poses for two photographs at the same time at Motegi. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Canadian local hero James Hinchciffe an unsurprising favourite with the press and media at Edmonton. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
James Hinchcliffe (CAN - Newman/Haas Racing) relaxed with his team during the Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Thursday, May 12 [Photo by Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
James Hinchcliffe tries to stay warm at a chilly Kentucky Speedway [Photo credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media]
James Hinchcliffe flashes across the start/finish line during practice for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe`s car in Canadian mode (Photo By Chris Owens for IndyCar media)
James Hinchcliffe on course during practice for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson and Charlie Kimball go side-by-side for the start of the Pocono INDYCAR 500 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves waits to go out on track for Practice 1. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power prepares to go out in Practice 1. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe on course during practice for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe in pit lane (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe and Ed Carpenter collision (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)

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daz - Unregistered

January 11, 2012 7:26 AM

Sad News About newmanhaas,I didnt not know what next williams in f1.As a mansell fan .I follow newmanhaas. from when mansell drove for them . sad day.

T - Unregistered

January 10, 2012 8:16 PM

Hinch has got the Go Daddy ride so he is taking the no.7. If sponsorship allows then there will be a 4th car but this has been reported as only being 50:50 Hinch did well as a rookie last year so hopefully he performs well in a front line team (though NHL where a first class outfit). Hopefully Servia gets a similar opportunity after his 2011 performances.



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