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James Hinchcliffe will step away from full-time racing in IndyCar next season

IndyCar James Hinchcliffe leaving

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - AUGUST 14: James Hinchcliffe of Canada, driver of the #29 Genesys Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Honda, waits on the grid prior to the NTT IndyCar Series Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 14, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Getty Images

James Hinchcliffe, one of the most popular drivers in the NTT IndyCar Series, said Tuesday he is leaving full-time racing on the circuit.

The 34-year-old Canadian said he is not retiring and will explore other types of racing. Andretti Autosport did not renew his contract for next year.

“With a decade-plus of incredible memories in the bank, I am happy to announce I am stepping away from full-time IndyCar competition,” Hinchcliffe posted on social media. “This was not a decision taken lightly and it was one made with the full support of my family and closest supporters. There were many factors, both personal and professional, that led me to this decision but it truly felt like the time was right.”

Hinchcliffe had a rough season in his return to Andretti this past year and scored just one podium finish, a third on the street course at Nashville. His next best finish was 14th twice, at Detroit and in the Long Beach season finale.

The “Mayor of Hinchtown” is a two-time most popular driver in IndyCar and was a runner-up on the 2016 season of “Dancing with the Stars.” He’s a six-time IndyCar winner and started on the pole for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016, a year after he was nearly killed in a crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He started on the front row for the Indy 500 three times in nine appearances. Hinchcliffe in 2018 failed to qualify and in 2015 watched from the hospital after a broken part from his car pierced an artery in his upper left thigh.

Hinchcliffe lost 14 pints of blood as he was rushed to the hospital following the crash during a practice session.

He made his IndyCar debut in 2011 with Newman Haas Racing, spent the next three seasons driving for Andretti, and then five years with Sam Schmidt. He was released with a year remaining on his contract after the 2019 season, and made six starts for Andretti the next year.

Hinchcliffe had a full-time ride with Andretti this season but was replaced by Devlin DeFrancesco last month. He was 20th in the series standings.

“In 2011, I realized a lifelong goal of becoming an IndyCar driver,” Hinchcliffe said. “I remember almost every minute of the journey getting there. There were many ups and many downs. Through all the challenges and uncertainty there were two constants, my unabated desire to make it in IndyCar and my family’s unwavering support. In the 11 years that followed, I lived out my dream in a way that a nine-year-old kid, sitting in a kart for the first time, could never have imagined.”

He said he does not plan to retire from racing, and the TV booth also could also be an option. He worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter during the 2020 season.