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Patricio O’Ward, Colton Herta Move Up to IndyCar for 2019

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Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta battled against each other for the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Championship as teammates, and will once again race together in 2019 in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Both young drivers will make the jump up to the top division of American open-wheel competition driving for Harding Steinbrenner Racing, which is a partnership between Harding Racing and Steinbrenner Racing.

“We are happy to announce that Mike Harding of Harding Racing and George Steinbrenner IV of Steinbrenner Racing will join forces in 2019 to become Harding Steinbrenner Racing,” said team president Brian Barnhart. “We will be making the move to a two-car team, fulfilling a goal we stated earlier in the year.  We have decided to go all in for the future by hiring two recent stars of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series, Freedom 100 winner and Indy Lights Series runner-up, Colton Herta and reigning Indy Lights Series Champion, Patricio O’Ward. We are thrilled with their performance in the 2018 Indy Lights Series in which they ran 1-2 for Andretti Autosport. We are also exceptionally proud to have recently provided them with them their inaugural IndyCar experience at Sonoma Raceway.”

2018 Indy Lights Champion Patricio O’Ward will drive the No. 8 entry full-time following an impressive IndyCar debut at Sonoma Raceway with a ninth-place finish.

“If you would have asked me if I was going to be an IndyCar driver last year, I would have told you hopefully, but no,” said O’Ward. “It’s a chance of a lifetime. I couldn’t be in a better position as of now. I’m really thankful for the opportunity that Harding Racing, Mike Harding and the Steinbrenners are giving me. This is something I have been working my whole life for. It’s been a very adventurous and enjoyable ride. I’ve matured a lot over the past two years and I think I’m ready to be strong in the IndyCar Series. We showed some pace in Sonoma and learned a lot. I think it’s going to be just as important to learn as much as we can in the beginning of the 2019 season, so we can end the season strong. The car will be fast, and I know the team will give me what I need to do the job. There’s nothing better than having trust with the people who are giving you the car because when the car is going fast those extra risks that you have to take are from the trust and confidence form your team.”

2018 Freedom 100 winner Colton Herta will pilot the No. 88 car, the same entry he drove to a 20th-place finish at Sonoma in his IndyCar debut.

“I am so thrilled to finally announce the plans for next year,” said Herta. “I know it’s been a long time coming. After having a good time in Sonoma and dipping my feet into IndyCar, it makes me way more enthusiastic than I was before. This is all possible because of Mike Harding and I want to give a big thank you to the Steinbrenners. There is a lot to do, but I’m ready to get my head down and focus forward for the 2019 IndyCar season.”

Harding Racing just completed their first full season in the IndyCar Series following a ninth-place finish in the 2017 Indianapolis 500.

“The 2018 IndyCar season has been a tremendous learning experience for me,” said Mike Harding. “Now I am eager to join with Steinbrenner Racing and create the powerhouse team I know Harding Racing can be. George Michael Steinbrenner IV entered the Mazda Road to Indy with the intent to win, and I believe Harding Steinbrenner Racing will quickly impress the IndyCar paddock too. Let’s go racing!”

George Michael Steinbrenner IV found his footing into racing through a partnership with Andretti Autosport in Indy Lights, The pair placed third in the standings in 2017 with Herta behind the wheel scoring seven podiums, followed by a runner-up this year with four wins and 13 podiums.

“I am extremely excited to make the leap into the IndyCar Series,” said George Michael Steinbrenner IV, owner of Steinbrenner Racing. “Since I was a kid, it has been my goal to be a team owner in the IndyCar Series and I’m so excited to be doing that with Harding Racing. They are a team that shares our values that they don’t want to just be here, but to be a dominant mainstay in the series. That will continue to be our goal as we head into a partnership with a team that shares the same ideals and it makes life a heck of a lot easier. Excited to have two of the best young drivers on this continent and to have them both make the leap into the IndyCar Series at such a young age as teammates with Harding Steinbrenner. We’re looking forward to watching as they mature and fight to beat the grizzled veterans in the IndyCar paddock. We’re so excited to see where that will lead, how the team can grow, and how we’ll compete so we can hopefully vault ourselves to the top of IndyCar pylons.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularOpenWheel.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Ashley McCubbin is currently studying journalism at the University of Guelph-Humber while writing for multiple websites. She also serves on the managing staff for a select few. Born in North York, Ontario, McCubbin currently lives in Bradford, Ontario and spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area where she enjoys taking photos and working on websites.

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