By Michael Eubanks
The Steinbrenner family knows a thing or two about winning. Since 1973, the family has been in control of one of the most successful and well-known sports franchises in the world: The New York Yankees. Under the control of the late George Steinbrenner, and now his sons Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, the team has made the playoffs 24 times, and won the World Series in seven of those appearances. With less than two weeks remaining in the 2018 MLB season, the family hopes to add to that count.
For Hank’s son, George Michael Steinbrenner IV, however, the goal is not to win the World Series, but rather the Indianapolis 500 and and IndyCar Series championship. Last Wednesday, he became one step closer to said goal, as his team Steinbrenner Racing announced a merger with Harding Racing to become Harding Steinbrenner Racing, which will field full-time entries for 2018 Indy Lights Champion Patricio O’Ward as well as runner-up Colton Herta. Both drivers made their IndyCar Series debuts last week for Harding Racing at Sonoma Raceway, with O’Ward starting an amazing 5th and finishing 9th in one of the best rookie debuts in recent history.
Though 2019 will be their first season in IndyCar for the team, Steinbrenner Racing has spent the last two seasons in Indy Lights, in partnership with Andretti Autosport and with Herta at the wheel. During this time frame, the team won a respectable six races, including the 2018 Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Success is not immediately guaranteed for the team in its inaugural IndyCar Series season, however. Herta and O’Ward are both incredibly talented drivers, but the IndyCar Series field is much more competitive than Indy Lights. Both drivers combined won 13 of the 17 races held in 2018, but in a series that had only seven on the starting grid most races. Harding Racing, the relatively new team owned by Indianapolis area paving company owner Mike Harding which the team has merged with, is also fairly new to the sport and has only three top ten finishes to date. Even though the team will continue to receive the technical support from the powerhouse Andretti Autosport, the team will likely run in middle of the pack for the majority of races, though some podium finishes are not completely out of the realm of possibility.
Time will tell whether or not the winning ways of the Yankees transfer over to Harding Steinbrenner Racing. But with two extremely talented rookies behind the wheel, the future is certainly a bright one.