In the wake of Pato O’Ward’s departure from the Harding Steinbrenner Racing team just weeks before the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season kicks off, the Mike Harding- and George Michael Steinbrenner-owned outfit will not look to immediately fill the empty seat.
With Indy Lights race winner Colton Herta signed to drive the No. 88 HSR Honda for the season, O’Ward’s vacant No. 8 Honda will sit idle as the cash-strapped team focuses its reduced budget on a single driver.
Although at least one recent IndyCar driver expressed interest in taking over the Indy Lights champion’s unused HSR seat, the Indiana-based squad is only expected to entertain offers to field the No. 8 entry for May’s 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. Whether the one-car program remains in place after Indy is open to re-evaluation in the coming months.
“It is full focus, full steam ahead on providing Colton the maximum support for the rest of the season,” HSR team president Brian Barnhart told RACER. “If the right opportunity presents itself, we’d be open to running a second car at the speedway. And we’ll be smart about that. We won’t just run a second car for the sake of running one. There would need to be a good reason for it.”