The Andretti Autosport team is making significant progress towards expanding its footprint in the NTT IndyCar Series paddock.
Multiple sources have told RACER the championship-winning team is preparing to confirm an increase from four to five full-time cars in 2020 and continue supporting a sixth through its Andretti Technology customer program as it seeks more personnel to fill a variety of roles. Branching out to cover a seventh entry for the Indianapolis 500 is also said to be part of the planning process.
As previously reported by RACER, the fifth Honda-powered Andretti entry is likely to be occupied by Colton Herta, who currently drives for Harding Steinbrenner Racing, and makes use of race engineering staff and chassis componentry provided by the Andretti team.
The renewed effort to place Herta in a funded and stable seat comes in the wake of an attempt by the Chevy-powered Arrow McLaren SP team to secure his services, with the fate of the talented but under-funded HSR team still to be finalized.
Plagued by budgetary shortfalls, Herta and the HSR team have dealt with a variety of setbacks throughout the season that have led to persistent questions as to whether the team would be able to continue. Through the benevolence and action from Capstone Turbines, the most recent concerns have been staved off as the company stepped in to ensure the No. 88 Honda took part in races at Mid-Ohio, Pocono, and this weekend at Gateway after GESS branding was removed from the car.
Renowned for its ability to secure significant corporate partnerships, a long-term relationship between Andretti and Herta could give the next-generation star the stability he needs to vie for titles. Looking to the next decade, it would also present the team with a powerful, long-term 1-2-3 punch alongside 27-year-old Alexander Rossi, and Andretti veteran and 2014 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, who is seeking a contract extension beyond 2020.
On the HSR front, rumors of a post-season shutdown have circulated in recent weeks, and like Herta, providing a landing spot for George Steinbrenner IV at Andretti, in the event HSR does not continue, is said to be of great importance.
Steinbrenner, who has been a co-entrant on Herta’s cars since 2017 with Andretti Autosport in Indy Lights, remains an important figure as Herta’s future is orchestrated. Of the various scenarios making the rounds, farming a new customer program out to HSR, and absorbing the HSR crew to use on Herta’s Andretti entry, have been mentioned.