Friday, January 21, 2011

Newman/Haas: The Comeback Trail

Yesterday marked another chapter in the developing relationship between Newman/Haas Racing and James Hinchcliffe, with the team partaking in an open test at Sebring with the Canadian driver. There are plenty of great photos from the test over at the Newman/Haas Facebook page.

Hinchcliffe has a great personality, and I'd love to see him get his shot. With Oriol Servia still being talked about for a ride at Newman-Haas as well, I see both of them land there as an ideal scenario--Servia is an experienced, respected driver, and would be a great teammate for the rookie.

Hinch and Servia: The new faces of Newman-Haas?
Nothing against Hideki Mutoh, Newman/Haas' full-time driver from last year (no Top 10 finishes), but I don't think he was the answer for this team. That's not what people expect from Newman/Haas, even in its latter-day form. They still have great talent and great people there. This is a proud team, and if this offseason has shown anything, they aren't ready to throw in the towel.

Both Hinchcliffe and Servia bring great resumes, aside from being well-regarded. If you look at Servia's time in ChampCar and IndyCar, this is a guy who cranks out Top 5 and Top 10s consistently. He was lights-out with Newman/Haas back in his ChampCar days, and was no slouch for Forsythe Racing, either. In only 23 races in IndyCar (2008-2009), he grabbed 7 Top 5s and 11 Top 10s. He's shown consistently the ability to move up and improve over the course of a race.

As far as Hinchcliffe, he doesn't have the seasoning of Servia yet, but he won three races in Lights last year and won the Greg Moore Legacy Award to boot.  The fact that he did it with Team Moore, which is not exactly a Lights powerhouse, makes it all the more impressive.  Hinchcliffe is also personable, funny, and interacts well with the fans--something that can't be overlooked.

Of course, we'll have to see what the next couple months bring. It's frustrating to wait on official news at times, but it's looking favorable, very favorable, that James Hinchcliffe will be there when the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series arrives. I hope Oriol Servia is right there with him, but above all, I wish success to one of the most storied and historic teams in all of American open-wheel racing.

(Photos provided courtesy of IndyCar Media) 

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