Confirming recent rumours, Richard Antinucci is to return to his American roots, having agreed a deal to contest the Indy Pro Series with Eddie Cheever's eponymous squad.
The long-time F3
racer is Cheever's nephew, but the former Indianapolis
500 winner insists that blood ties played only a small part in bringing to two together.
“Richard is a talented driver, and is an exciting addition to our team - family or not,” Cheever said, "When the opportunity came up to have Richard in the team, obviously it was something that we sat back and thought long and hard about, because there's always more responsibility when you bring a family member into a business.
"But he has all the credentials to do very well. If you look at all the people that have succeeded in Indycars over the past ten years, there's a large majority of them coming from a European single-seater background. Look at somebody like [Juan Pablo] Montoya - comes from Europe, does well in Indy cars, goes to Formula One, comes back and does NASCAR. I think it's a very good training ground for anybody that wants to be successful in racing.
"I'm excited to have Richard here. There's a lot of pressure now that I have my nephew, and I have a feeling I'll go through the same apprehensions that my good friend [AJ] Foyt did when his grandson was racing. But that's all good."
At present, Antinucci will only drive a limited IPS season, focusing on the road course events at St Petersburg, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio. However, the team is continuing to search for further sponsorship in order to prepare Antinucci for the Indianapolis
500 in future seasons.
“I am really looking forward to driving with Cheever Racing,” said Antinucci, who finished second in the blue riband Macau F3
Grand Prix in November, “I feel that Eddie has taken me under his wing and wants to pass down his experience in motorsports.
"I'm very thankful to be part of my uncle's team - I see it as a family partnership that's great - but I don't think Eddie, or any other professional team owner, would have chosen me if I was just family-related. So I think it's also a pat on the shoulder. I've done a good last year. I'm on the upswing. We want to join forces for all the right reasons and achieve success humbly together."
Indianapolis remains the target for Antinucci, who admitted that his ambition now is to join his uncle on the winners' roster.