INDIANAPOLIS (May 21, 2015) – Ryan Briscoe will indeed replace injured IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe.
Officials from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports made the announcement Thursday morning. Briscoe will start in the 32nd position based on entrant points, race officials revealed.
Brisco has started in the front row during three different Indianapolis 500s and led laps in three races. Sunday’s race will mark his tenth start at the 500.
“Obviously, my first thoughts go to James,” Briscoe said. “You never like to be part of a situation like this. My best wishes with him and his recovery and things are sounding real good there.”
Hinchcliffe was injured in a fiery crash Monday and rushed to IU Health Methodist Hospital. He spent time in intensive care and required surgery after the crash. He was released from intensive care Wednesday and is expected to make a full recovery.
Briscoe didn’t have a ride before officials from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports contacted him as a possible replacement. Briscoe said he’s happy to be in the race although he admits the circumstances aren’t ideal.
“You prepare for this race often a year out. You visualize how you practice and all the prep you’re going to do,” said the 33-year-old Australian. “Then something like this comes up and you throw that out the window.”
He says his experience and the experience of the race team will help him have a successful race day.
“With a few laps today and Carb Day out there with all the other competitors, I’ll be able to find my groove again and get back up to speed,” he said. “We have high expectations.”
“First and foremost, James is our guy,” said team co-owner Sam Schmidt, who said the days since Hinchcliffe’s crash have been “crazy” and involved several long days of work. He said the immediate goal was having a successful Indianapolis 500.
"We explored quite a few options and felt confident in Briscoe," Schmidt said. "We were glad he was available and willing to drive for us with such short notice."
Schmidt said everyone on the racing team is thinking about Hinchcliffe and hoping for a quick recovery.