WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – IndyCar veteran and current member of the NBC Sports motorsports broadcast team James Hinchcliffe will make his Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires debut at Watkins Glen International, June 22 – 24. The Canadian will drive the No. 3 JTR Motorsports Engineering entry for Rounds Seven and Eight.
Hinchcliffe was the 2011 IndyCar Rookie of the Year and has nearly 150 starts to his credit, including nine at the Indianapolis 500 where he earned the pole position in 2016.
Though he has numerous open-wheel races at Watkins Glen under his belt, this will be the first time Hinchcliffe has raced a sports car at the upstate New York circuit.
“We’ve had the benefit of having MX-5 Cup run at a bunch of IndyCar races over the years and I’ll tell you everyone in the paddock is either on the pit wall or switching over the feed in the engineering office to watch those races because they look like so much fun,” Hinchcliffe said. “I think the series does a great job keeping everything nice and even. I think the competition is incredibly fierce and as drivers, that’s what you want to see. I’ve always enjoyed watching it and always thought it would be a blast to get the opportunity to try it. I’m very much looking forward to this.”
Hinchcliffe’s ties to Mazda go back to 2005 when he ran in the Star Mazda series. He followed it up with three seasons in the Atlantic Championship (2006 – 2008), which was powered by Mazda at the time. Most recently, Hinchcliffe was part of Mazda’s prototype driver lineup for the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
The guest drive is reminiscent of last year’s MX-5 Cup races at Road America where NASCAR driver Parker Kligerman took part.
“The love Mazda MX-5 Cup receives from top-tier, world-famous drivers is something really special,” Mazda Motorsports Program Manager Jonathan Applegate said. “We’re thrilled once again to welcome a tremendously talented guest driver to the series in James Hinchcliffe. Having a driver with a unique Mazda connection is great, but most importantly we want James to enjoy his time with us and share the fun of MX-5 Cup racing with his fan base.”
Hinchcliffe will have two 30-minute practice sessions before qualifying and Race 1 at 12:20pm ET on Friday, June 23. Race 2 will go green at 10:05am ET on Saturday, June 24. Both races will be streamed live on RACER.com and IMSA.com/tvlive.