The Andretti/Steinbrenner livery will return next year in the NTT IndyCar Series.
As first reported by RACER.com last month, Colton Herta will join Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Zach Veach in the fifth car for Andretti Autosport with support from the Steinbrenner family. Official confirmation is expected on Saturday at Laguna Seca.
George Michael Steinbrenner and his father Hank, co-owner and co-chairman of the New York Yankees, began sponsoring Herta in Indy Lights for Andretti in 2017, and continued their association with the 19-year-old phenom this year in IndyCar with Mike Harding.
Herta has essentially been an unofficial Andretti driver during his impressive rookie season due to Harding Steinbrenner’s technical partnership with the team, which has included the engineering expertise of Nathan O’Rourke, who was loaned by to Harding by Andretti.
It’s been a hectic past few months for Herta, who became the youngest IndyCar winner of all-time (18) earlier this season at COTA. He had a multi-year deal with Harding, but the team has been in financial jeopardy for the past few months and its future is very much in doubt.
But Andretti also had a three-year contract with Herta that superseded Harding’s, and gave him the option to run the second-generation driver or find him a ride before he pursued other opportunities.
Herta was also very close to becoming the lead driver for a McLaren/Andretti alliance in 2020. McLaren CEO Zak Brown made Andretti a very generous offer to resume the partnership they started in 2017 with Fernando Alonso at Indianapolis. Because of the ill feelings between McLaren and Honda, Andretti would have had to switch to Chevrolet.
So Honda stood to lose Herta, Rossi and Hunter-Reay but ponied up a game-saving package, with help from DHL and AutoNation, to keep Andretti on board.
Immediately after it was confirmed that Rossi would be staying with Andretti and the team was staying with Honda, McLaren’s deal with Arrow SPM was announced, including SPM being allowed to get out of its Honda contract and join Chevy. James Hinchcliffe has a contract with Arrow SPM, and Brown is currently talking with Conor Daly among others about the second seat.