2011 Silly Season Update

So with Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball joining Chip Ganassi Racing, and JR Hildebrand joining Panther this week as well, I figure it is time to post a new Silly Season update with rumors and possibilities for the upcoming season.


De Ferran Dragon Racing

#2 - Tony Kanaan - Full Season
#21 - Davey Hamilton - Indy + 2 or 3 races - HP

The never ending questions are surrounding this team in regards to who will be their man this season. The quest for funding is on, and TK is in Brazil as we speak racing go-karts and talking to sponsors. From the news online, it sounds like Kanaan is their number one choice (logically). As for Rafa Matos, he has apparently given up looking for an Indycar ride this season and will settle for driving stock cars in Brazil for 2011, leaving Tony Kanaan as the DFDR's main man. There were talks of running two cars if they could find the money. Also, expect a car for Davey Hamilton at a couple of events. I wonder if you might see Highcroft Racing team up with De Ferran Dragon for a couple of events to get their feet wet in anticipation of 2011.

Penske Racing

#3 - Helio Castroneves - Full Season - Shell
#6 - Ryan Briscoe - Full Season - Izod/AAA
#12 - Will Power - Full Season - Verizon

Penske is set for 2010 after picking up a handful of sponsors from various places. Will be nice to see Penske Racing decked out in sponsorship, unlike 2010 where only one of the Captain's cars had some sort of major representation. Personally, I think Ryan Briscoe is in a make it or break it year with this team. If he cannot keep up with Will Power, I think he will be looking for a new job in 2012.

Panther Racing

#4 - JR Hildebrand - National Guard

JR was announced this week to fill the National Guard Panther machine. He will be with the team for multiple years, and will most likely sue Panther at some point before he leaves them.

Kalkoven Vasser Racing

#5 - Takuma Sato - Full Season - Lotus
#8 - Hideki Mutoh/EJ Viso
#15 - Paul Tracy/Oriol Servia/Mike Conway
#32 - Mario Moraes/Alex Lloyd/Faruz Fauzy

KVR is the team in flux at the moment. The only sure thing (more or less) is Takuma Sato returning. As for EJ Viso and Mario Moraes, neither of them seemed happy last year, and EJ is rumored to be taking his sponsorship elsewhere for 2011. Rumors of KVR doing 4 cars, two in Lotus colors this season. Look for ride buyers in all four cars unfortunately, unless Lotus comes through with some big time cheques.

Andretti Autosport

#7 - Danica Patrick - Full Season - GoDaddy.com
#11 - Dan Wheldon
#26 - Marco Andretti - Full Season - Venom
#37 - Ryan Hunter-Reay - Full Season - ?????

The three Americans are set for 2011 in AA rides. We are still waiting to hear who will sponsor Ryan Hunter-Reay full-time. Also, Curt Cavin of the Indy Star has mentioned on a number of occasions that Andretti Autosport could very well run four cars, and that Dan Wheldon has a chance to return to the teams fourth car.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing

#9 - Scott Dixon - Full Season - Target
#10 - Dario Franchitti - Full Season - Target
#38 - Graham Rahal - Full Season - Service Central
#83 - Charlie Kimball - Full Season - Novo NorDisk

Just confirmed yesterday some of the most positive news in the 2011 silly season. Not only is Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti returning in 2011, but they will be joined by an All-American satellite team of Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball. Chip must not have been happy seeing Roger Penske running one more car than him in 2010.

AJ Foyt Enterprises

#14 - Vitor Meira - Full Season - ABC Supply Co.

Vitor Meira returns to the seat after signing a two year deal with the team (which he inadvertently let the world know through a misplaced Tweet). AJ Foyt Enterprises will continue along with 1 car in 2011 and struggle in the midpack.

Dale Coyne Racing

#18 - Jonathan Summerton/Alex Lloyd
#19 - EJ Viso/Hideki Mutoh/Milka Duno

It is no secret that Dale would love to have an American in the Boy Scouts of AMERICA car, and Jonathan Summerton could be that guy. Like Conquest, they lost out of TEAM funding for one of their cars so they will have some difficulty in 2011 putting together two full time programs. However, if they can get someone like EJ Viso to bring his PDVSA funding to the team, and sign up Jonathan Summerton or Alex Lloyd to drive the BSA car, it would be Dale's best lineup in years.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

#22 - Justin Wilson - Full Season - Z-Lines Designs
#23 - Mike Conway/EJ Viso/Anna Beatriz/Alex Lloyd
#24 - Paul Tracy

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has confirmed Justin Wilson so far for 2011, however rumors persist in regards to the other cars. Mike Conway is in the picture, as is Paul Tracy surprisingly. EJ Viso, Anna Beatriz, and even Alex Lloyd have been mentioned for this seat. Not sure if they will run 2 or 3 cars, depends on how much sponsorship they are able to get, and how much they are able to bring in. I would expect them to have at least two full time cars.

FAZZT Race Team

#33 - Ho Ping Tung - Full Season
#77 - Alex Tagliani - Full Season - Bower & Wilkens

Ho Ping Tung ran with FAZZT at Sebring in November, testing out in an apparent tryout for both he and the team. B&W executive seem to like the prospect of running a driver with Chinese heritage as China is a big market for them. All signs point to Ho Ping Tung joining Alex Tagliani for 2011.

Conquest Racing

#34 - Bertrand Baguette - Full Season - Belgium Auto Racing Club
#36 - Tomas Scheckter/JK Vernay/Hideki Mutoh

Even after losing TEAM funding for one of his cars in 2011, expect Eric Bachelart to run two cars again this year. Bertrand Baguette should be back after a strong showing in 2010, and a funded driver, perhaps someone like JK Vernay or even a Tomas Scheckter in this ride.

Sarah Fisher Racing

#67 - Ed Carpenter - 9 Races - Dollar General

Sarah has called it quits for the time being as she is looking to start a family, so Ed Carpenter gets the call to driver her Dollar General sponsored machine. They have confirmed 9 races, however, more may be confirmed with different sponsorship packages. Also, a likely one-off for Indy.

HVM Racing

#78 - Simona de Silvestro - Full Season
#79 - Junior Strous

Simona de Silvestro was more or less confirmed for the 2011 season within weeks of final Homestead race. However, there are a couple rumblings that she will not be with HVM in 2011 as sponsorship hunting is not going well. I do however expect her back, along with a teammate. Junior Strous made a lot of noise in 2010 about coming to Indycar with sponsorship, and HVM seems like a good landing spot for him, mind you, we've heard all this before from Strous.

Newman/Haas Racing

#02 - James Hinchcliffe - Full Season
#06 - Oriol Servia - Full Season

All signs point towards NHR having a resurgent season after employing with Hideki Mutoh for 2010 in a single car effort. They have recently tested both James Hinchcliffe and Oriol Servia at Sebring and all signs point towards both cars running full time in 2010. Hinchcliffe wants and needs a teammate to help bring him up to speed in the Izod Indycars, and Oriol would be the perfect fit. Expect this duo to line up together in 2010.

Please feel free to discuss the Silly Season list in the comments section, and let me know how you feel and how you think everything will play out. I'll keep this updated as best I can, and if I have missed something, will definitely correct it as soon as possible. Have fun.


Engine Announcement Friday

The Izod Indycar Series has announced a press conference regarding manufacturer competition for 2012, at the IMS museum.

It is fair to say that this is the Chevy to Indy 2012 announcement, unless something new has come up, or Ford or FIAT has beaten Chevy to the punch and will announce something instead.

Keep your calendar's open on Friday, I'm not sure if it will be shown via the web, or if it is simply for local press.

Good news everyone, more then just Honda in 2012!!!

More on engines

Marshall Pruett just posted a new article in reference to the 2012 Engine Manufacturers. It references more then just the GM rumors, this time, he includes FIAT, Cosworth, Ford as well as the previously mentioned GM engine possibilities. However, he has not confirmed or denied anything, simply playing a torturing game of "True or False".

Read the article here... Marshall Pruett's SPEEDTV.com article.

So, personally, for Marshall to fuel the fire in regards to multiple engine manufacturers in 2012 would be terribly mean if he didn't know something was up. I mean, some of the rumors he lists are pretty juicy, including Mark Cuban joining the Indycar ranks in 2012. But, really, if Marshall did all his research and found out that these rumors were all false, he would be pulling a mean stunt if he continued to push the rumors to the masses, including new ones.

The Mark Cuban rumor is actually slightly telling, as the Dallas Maverick's owner attended at least one race this year, I believe as a guest to De Ferran Dragon Motorsports. If he were to join the ownership ranks of the Izod Indycar Series, it would be another big step in significance.

I think, unfortunately, we have to sit around, and play the waiting game. Marshall mentioned at the end of his article that an announcement was possible in a few hours, on friday, on monday, or never... I will keep my eyes glued to my inbox in regards to Indycar press conference announcements, hopefully we will get some news in regards to GM or some engine manufacturer.

Hold tight folks, we'll know soon enough.


GM to Indycar?

Well, rumors popped out over the weekend that GM is preparing to announce it's return to Izod Indycar Racing by building a Twin-Turbo V6 for the 2012 engine regulations. The original article popped up on Autoextremist.com, then subsequent articles and rumors appeared on Speedtv.com, Indystar.com, autoracing1.com, and Autoweek. Most of the articles discussing the original Autoextremist.com news does not confirm the news, but do tend to lean in the direction that GM will be joining the Indycar series.

Autoextremist.com author Peter M. De Lorenzo says that an announcement will be made this Friday November 12th, noting that a possible announcement will be made at IMS.

Another central piece to the story is that the connection between GM and Chip Ganassi in both Nascab and the Izod Indycar Series. De Lorenzo states that Ganassi was being woo'ed by Ford to switch engines and cars for the 2011 Nascab season, but the decision by GM to go to Indianapolis in open wheel machinery in 2012 made the decision easy, and he will compete in 2012 with GM engines in both the tin tops and the new Izod Indycars.

Now, this news is not confirmed yet. Even Randy Bernard was quoted as saying the news is premature, however, he did not outright squash the rumors as he could have. He left it open, saying they expect to land atleast one engine competitor to join Honda in 2012.

Even if this news is not confirmed as of yet, where there's smoke, there is usually fire. I think the tie up between Ganassi and GM in Nascab is one of the defining factors of the story, and lends credence to the rumor. Also, let's face it, De Lorenzo is reporting this as pretty much fact, and with such a large news piece (and even citing it as breaking news), he is weighing his reputation on this. Leads me to believe that unless this is a horrible joke, he must feel this has a pretty good chance of coming true.

But if it does come true, and we see Honda battling GM/Chevrolet in the Izod Indycar Series in 2012, along with potentially one other engine manufacturer and a couple of aero kit constructors including Dallara and Lotus (potentially GM as well, as they were originally very interested in the aero kit concept), would be huge, and would definitely be a strong step in the right direction to lure some Izod Indycar fans back to the series.

Keep your fingers crossed, and let's see how this plays out.


What Didn't Chicagoland Have?

Well, last night I got to watch the Chicagoland Izod Indycar Series race from start to finish, and was I ever lucky I had an empty schedule for it. For the first time in a while, I did not have to work, play, drive, sleep, or anything of that nature that would make me miss part or all of a race.

I am not one to really enjoy the "foot to the floor" ovals as I feel they don't really take a whole lot of talent to drive, but one thing I will say is that they take balls (you girls have them too Sarah, Simona, Ana, Danica, and even Milka). That racing was definitely some of the closest we've seen all season, and I'd venture some of the closest of the last 3 or so years at Chicagoland. The number of cars on track was great to see and provided alot of excitement for the fans. A crowded track makes for a good oval race, and hopefully the people in charge will drop these silly regulations that only allow "x" amount of cars on tracks. Instead of simply changing them when more cars show up, just demolish the regulations instead, and avoid tracks that are short on pit stalls.

Chicagoland had the drama and storylines to go with the close competition. Will Power's lack of fuel (DOH!) and the point race tightening was definitely the main storyline of the final 20 laps or so, but what about Sarah Fisher running up front and getting Dollar General some good air time? How about seeing Marco Andretti smile for once after running a strong 3rd place finish after 200 good laps of racing? How about finding out Will Power can actually run ovals? Or what of KV Racing knocking 2/3 of their own team out of the race in the pits? Graham Rahal running top ten all day in his first 1.5 mile track since last season? Dan Wheldon putting the National Guard car on display in second place?

If you did not catch the race last night, you missed probably one of the most exciting races this season, and Kentucky seems to look about the same as 26 cars are looking to take the grid there.

I guess the only thing Chicagoland didn't have last night was, well, fans...


Big Week For IICS

This upcoming week is going to be filled with a lot of suspense, news, and excitement for the Izod Indycar Series and it's IRL family.

It is safe to say that the future landscape of Indycar will be determined on Wednesday, July 14th when the ICONIC committee releases it's chassis plans for 2012 and beyond. However, no one is quite sure exactly what is going to be announced, and Randy Bernard has done a good job of keeping this as hush hush as possible to create a big splash in the marketplace.

I think it is hard not to be excited by the upcoming announcement as it will possibly mean the end to the current Dallara (Curt Cavin believes the current machine will be grand-fathered in somehow while some others believe it will move to the FIL series). No matter what is announced, we can all take pride in knowing there will be something different than the current Dallara on track sometime after 2012.

To be honest, I think it's safe to say we will see multiple chassis manufacturer's involved with this announcement. Whether company names are dropped on Wednesday or not, Randy Bernard and his entire ICONIC committee understand the importance of multiple chassis' as well as multiple engines. The main question is how will they police the various options, and that is something we'll have to wait for as I don't think anyone outside of that group of 7 have any clue.

Then a couple of days after the announcement, the Izod Indycar Series hits the streets of Toronto for my home race, and boy, am I excited. What I considered one of the most exciting races last season on television is a race that this year it finally looks like my schedule will allow me to get to the event for race day (providing we sweep our second round playoff series in 3 games).

There looks to be a good car count, and PT is back in the fold again for this event with KVRT, the team that gave him a potentially winning setup last year until he was punted into the wall by an unnamed driver in these parts.

Promotion for the event has been upped this year which can mean only good things. More butts in the seats and means more attention for Izod and the series.

Add in the fact we have a pretty good title chase brewing in the overall standings (you can just hand Will Power the Mario Andretti Trophy right now for the road courses), and you get a pretty good vibe heading into the Honda Indy Toronto weekend which is shaping up to be a blast.

It's a good week to be a fan of Izod and the Izod Indycar Series, time to embrace it.
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