Honda’s got championship veterans in Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay, new butt-kickers like Alexander Rossi and winning regulars like James Hinchcliffe, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato, but now it has added a couple of talented teenagers to its lineup for 2019.
It was confirmed today that Honda will power 18-year-old Colton Herta and 19-year-old Pato O’Ward for Harding/Steinbrenner Racing in the IndyCar series.
“With everything we’ve got going on, it’s a better fit,” said Brian Barnhart, president of Harding/Steinbrenner Racing. “It simplifies life for us, IndyCar, Andretti, Honda and Chevrolet. I want to express my appreciation to Chevrolet for what they did for us in 2018, but Honda’s alignment with youth in North America in our ladder system was a natural for us, and I want to thank Honda’s Art St. Cyr for all his efforts. I think it’s going to be a good thing for this team.”
O’Ward overhauled teammate Herta on the strength of nine wins to capture the 2018 Indy Lights title, while the second-generation driver scored four victories.
The back story is that Harding/Steinbrenner has a technical alliance with Andretti Autosport, which fields four cars with Honda engines. It was going to get complicated if Harding stayed with Chevy because nobody in the IndyCar paddock wanted Michael Andretti’s team to have their hands in both manufacturers’ pockets. Thankfully that potential can of worms didn’t develop, as St. Cyr approached Barnhart last fall at Sonoma.
So now, Honda is supplying 14 full-time cars (Andretti 4, Ganassi 2, RLL 2, SPM 2, Dale Coyne 2, Harding/Steinbrenner 2) while Chevrolet is behind nine full-timers (Penske 3, Foyt 2, Ed Carpenter 2, Carlin 2) with Shank (Honda) running Jack Harvey in 10 events and Juncos (Chevy) slated to run Indy and a few other races.