DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- James Hinchcliffe’s life of leisure has come to an abrupt end.
Following this weekend’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, in which he’s competing in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda SKYACTIV-D Prototype, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver is scheduled to test in the No. 77 Verizon IndyCar Series car Feb. 3 at Sebring International Raceway and Feb. 10-11 and 13 at NOLA Motorsports Park.
“There is a lot coming up. To have that many test days slammed into one is exciting. It’s almost like a race weekend,” said Hinchcliffe, who moved to the team co-owned by Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson in the fall after three seasons with Andretti Autosport. “It’s going to be nice getting some miles in.”
Those February test days will be with the Dallara/Honda package that will be utilized in the March 8 season-opening Brasilia Indy 300 in the capital city of Brazil, and Hinchcliffe could be joined by Conor Daly for at least one of the days on track. Daly, who made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 and has most recently been competing in GP2, said he’s working on a deal to drive the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car.
“There are still a few things to work out,” he said.
Aerodynamic bodywork kits supplied by Honda and Chevrolet will make their debut in the March 29 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Promoter Days for all teams to test the new road/street course and short oval aero kit for the first time are scheduled for March 16-17 at Barber Motorsports Park, and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is scheduled to join multiple other teams March 23 at Sebring before the opener.
The 12 Hours of Sebring is March 20-21, so Hinchcliffe might extend his hotel reservation if he runs the endurance race with SpeedSource.
“It’s a conversation to have, though IndyCar commitments are ramping up pretty quickly and there is a lot of work to do,” the Toronto native said. “There is a lot we have to learn about the team and learn about the car so the focus is there.
SPM general manager Rob Edwards moved to Andretti Autosport earlier this month, temporarily leaving a void.
“One of Rob’s massive strengths was putting the people together on that team,” said Hichcliffe, who will be working with veteran race engineer Allen McDonald. “He was such a key part in getting the organization to what it is today. I know Sam is not in a rush to fill that position; we want the right guy and we can operate fine until then and make a smooth transition.”
HPD names Miller are race team leader
Allen Miller is the new race team leader for Honda Performance Development.
"This is an exciting time in HPD's history," said Miller, who’s been an HPD associate for 21 years. "We're carrying on a multitude of new programs, including aero kits in the Verizon IndyCar Series, the new ARX-04b Honda prototype sports car and the exciting Pirelli World Challenge program for the Acura TLX GT. Each presents its own challenges and opportunities for the company, and I'm looking forward to contributing to our future success."
Miller has played several key roles during Honda's CART years, becoming supervisor of the engine shop in 1997 and serving as assistant manager from 2000-02. In 2006, Miller was named project manager for HPD's prototype sports car program and in 2008 he was named project leader of the program.
Josef Newgarden and Juan Pablo Montoya will greet fans and sign autographs at noon (ET) Jan. 23 in the Cobo Center atrium at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans is May 29-31. … DRIFIRE, a developer and provider of high-performance flame-resistant fabrics and protective apparel, has joined Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing as an associate sponsor. … BorgWarner turbochargers are part of the Honda engines for the Nos. 1 and 2 (Tequila Patron Extreme Speed Motorsports), the Ford EcoBoost engines for the Nos. 01 and 02 (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) and the No. 60 (Michael Shank Racing), and the Elan engine for the No. 0 DeltaWing Racing entry in the Rolex 24.