By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
Honda has gained a new partner in the 2019 IndyCar Series as Harding-Steinbrenner Racing announced a switch to the Japanese brand.
After competing with Chevrolet in a partial 2017 and a full 2018 campaign, the team elected to switch brands after signing new drivers Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta for the 2019 IndyCar season. O’Ward will drive the No. 8 machine while Herta will pilot the No. 88 after the duo finished first and second in their respective 2018 Indy Lights campaigns.
“We are delighted to have Harding Steinbrenner Racing join Honda’s IndyCar Series effort for 2019.,” said Art St. Cyr, President, Honda Performance Development in a team statement.
“At Honda Performance Development, we are always looking to the future, as seen with our development series: quarter midgets, karting, Formula F, US F4 and F3 Americas. We are excited to welcome a team with enthusiastic ownership that also believes developing drivers solidifies our lineup today, and into the future.
“With a pair of young North American drivers, Harding Steinbrenner Racing strengthens our overall racing effort and represents the future of our sport. We warmly welcome the team to the HPD family and look forward to working with them this season.”
Herta lives only five minutes away from where the engines are built by HPD, Honda’s American performance division in Santa Clara, California, and has cycled with many of the Honda team members. His father Bryan Herta’s last two Indy car victories came with Honda engines.
“They have a great platform and have proven to be able to win races on all types of circuits,” said Herta. “I hope to add wins to my name while working with Honda!”
O’Ward’s excitement to join Honda stems from the fact that Honda won the manufacturer’s championship in 2018, the first time doing so since Chevrolet entered IndyCar competition with the newer engine rules coming out in 2012.
“I am really excited to be joining the Honda family,” said O’Ward. “I wasn’t in the IndyCar Series this past season (except for the finale), but I got to see a lot of great performances by all the Honda teams. Honda was a big powerhouse within the paddock this year, obviously, they ended up winning the championship.
“I am very happy to be a part of the team and I’m looking forward to delivering the results that they deserve. I think that we are going to have a strong package for next year and I can’t wait to get started with Honda and Harding Steinbrenner Racing in St. Petersburg.”