Harding Steinbrenner Racing announced Thursday a partnership with Honda Performance Development for the team to use Honda engines in its two-car effort for the 2019 IndyCar Series season.
Rookie drivers Patricio O’Ward, the reigning Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion, and Colton Herta, this year’s Indy Lights runner-up, will use Honda’s 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines in their first full IndyCar Series season.
Harding Racing made its IndyCar Series debut in the 2017 season with a part-time entry using Chevrolet engines. It ran a single-car, full-season effort in 2018 with Chevrolet. At the September season finale at Sonoma Raceway, O’Ward and Herta made their IndyCar Series debuts with Harding Racing in an effort that led to the pairing of Mike Harding and George Steinbrenner IV as team owners for 2019.
“First of all, Harding Steinbrenner Racing is very appreciative of our relationship with Chevrolet in 2017 and 2018,” said team president Brian Barnhart. “However, our direction as a race team closely aligns with Honda for the near future. Therefore, we will be making a change to Honda and Honda Performance Development engines.
“We’re excited about their emphasis on the development of young talent, and with our announcement of Colton Herta and Patricio O’Ward joining our team next year, it’s a natural fit for Harding Steinbrenner Racing and Honda to align in 2019.”
Herta, the 18-year-old Californian and son of former Indy car driver Bryan Herta, will drive the No. 88 Honda for HSR. O’Ward, a 19-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico, will be in the No. 8 Honda. Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development, said he was “delighted” to add the rising young INDYCAR stars and team to the Honda family.
“We are excited to welcome a team with enthusiastic ownership that also believes developing drivers solidifies our lineup today, and into the future,” St. Cyr said. “With a pair of young North American drivers, Harding Steinbrenner Racing strengthens our overall racing effort and represents the future of our sport. We warmly welcome the team to the HPD family and look forward to working with them this season.”
While thankful for the opportunity given the young team by Chevrolet, the team co-owners are excited for what the future holds.
“Thank you to Chevrolet for being a great partner in 2017 and 2018 for Harding Racing,” Harding said. “As we move towards the 2019 IndyCar Series season with two rookie drivers, I’m glad to know Honda is as committed as I am to develop this young talent.”
“I’m excited to move forward as a new owner in the series and to be joining the Honda INDYCAR family,” said Steinbrenner. “Honda has meant a lot to the IndyCar Series for as long as I can remember, and I’m excited to have such a prestigious name in INDYCAR join us for the 2019 season. Over the past few seasons, Honda Performance Development has shown its ability to win races and that’s what we’re here to do as well.”
The 2019 IndyCar Series season consists of 17 races, beginning with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10.