Australian driver Ryan Briscoe, the 2012 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter, was confirmed on Thursday as the replacement for injured Canadian James Hinchcliffe in Sunday’s 99th edition of the oval classic.
The 33-year-old from Sydney will have a one-hour familiarisation session on the famed 2.5-mile (4km) Indianapolis Motor Speedway before his 10th Indy 500 start and join his 32 rivals in Friday’s final practice.
Briscoe, who matched his best finish of fifth in 2012 after starting from the inside of the front row, will start 32nd in the car that Hinchcliffe qualified 24th last Sunday.
That entry was advanced one spot from last on the basis of Hinchcliffe having more Indycar season points than Aussie James Davison, whose car was moved to last over a driver switch after being qualified by Frenchman Tristan Vautier while Davison competed in a sports car race in Canada.
Hinchcliffe crashed in practice on Monday and underwent surgery for pelvic and left thigh injuries that will sideline him from the IndyCar Series indefinitely.
“First and foremost, I feel absolutely terrible for Hinch. I wish him the best and a speedy recovery,” Briscoe said.
“You sort of prepare for this race a year out. You visualise how you’re going to go through practice, all the prep you’re going to do, and something like this comes up and you throw that all out the window.
“I feel with my experience and the experience the team has, the experience that Hinch has had with (race engineer) Allen McDonald putting this car in really good condition for the race, I feel really confident that even with a few laps I’ll be able to find my groove again. Considering everything, we still have high expectations of getting to the front.”
Briscoe will make his 130th career IndyCar start. He started 30th and finished 18th last year in a Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi and this year he drives a Honda for car owner Sam Schmidt.
“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.”