DragonSpeed has confirmed Ben Hanley for the opening round of the new NTT IndyCar Series at St. Petersburg on March 15.

Hanley, 34, made three IndyCar appearances in 2019 as part of DragonSpeed’s first entry to the series, recording a best finish of 18th at St. Petersburg.

DragonSpeed confirmed last month it would be expanding to a six-race IndyCar programme for 2020, including a return to the Indianapolis 500, but did not confirm who would be driving.

In a post to its Twitter account on Monday, DragonSpeed announced that Hanley would be returning for the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, driving the Chevrolet-powered #81 car.

“I can’t wait to get back in the No. 81 machine for another crack at St. Pete,” Hanley said. “After the thrash required just to make it to the track last season, we’re coming back in a much more settled situation.

“I don’t know if we can repeat the combination of luck and timing that put us 12th on the grid in 2019, but we will be much better prepared this time around and should be stronger throughout the weekend.”

“The continuity represented by having Ben in the car at St. Pete is a real boost and for the fifth year in a row he remains the lead driver across all of our programs,” added team boss Elton Julian.

“That said, the realities of life as a young IndyCar team might see us running other drivers at the same level as Ben, perhaps with more IndyCar experience, during the year.

“But committing to Ben as the test and race driver for the launch of our 2020 effort is clearly the best way to get our season off to a strong start.”