3/31/10

94th Indy 500 Silly Season

The Indianapolis 500 Mile Race is 60 days away. Time to do a run down of what we know.

Confirmed

Andretti Autosport (32)

#7 - Danica Patrick - GoDaddy.com
#11 - Tony Kanaan - 7/11
#26 - Marco Andretti - Venom Energy Drink
#37 - Ryan Hunter-Reay - Izod
#43 - John Andretti - Window World (Richard Petty part car owner)

Team Penske

#3 - Helio Castroneves - Team Penske
#6 - Ryan Briscoe - Team Penske
#12 - Will Power - Verizon Wireless

Target Chip Ganassi Racing

#9 - Scott Dixon - Target
#10 - Dario Franchitti - Target

Sam Schmidt Racing (w/Chip Ganassi)

#99 - Townsend Bell - Herbalife

KV Racing

#5 - Takuma Sato - Lotus
#8 - E.J. Viso - PDVSA/Jet Aviation
#15 - Paul Tracy - Geico
#32 - Mario Moraes - KV Racing

Dale Coyne Racing

#18 - Milka Duno - CITGO
#19 - Alex Lloyd - Boy Scouts of America

Conquest Racing

#34 - Mario Romancini - Ronn Motor Company
#36 - Bertrand Baguette - Royal Automobile Club of Belgium

Sarah Fisher Racing

#66 - Jay Howard - Tire Kingdom
#67 - Sarah Fisher - Dollar General

Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports

#2 - Raphael Matos - HP
#21 - Davey Hamilton - HP

FAZZT Race Team

#33 - Bruno Junqueira - TBA
#77 - Alex Tagliani - Bowers & Wilkens

Panther Racing

#4 - Dan Wheldon - National Guard

A.J. Foyt Enterprises

#14 - Vitor Meira - ABC Supply Co.

HVM Racing

#78 - Simona De Silvestro

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

#22 - Justin Wilson - Z-Lines Designs
#24 - Mike Conway - Dad's Root Beer

Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing

#06 - Hideki Mutoh - Panasonic/Formula Dream

Bryan Herta Autosport

#29 - Sebastian Saavedra - TBA

Likely (7)

A.J. Foyt Enterprises

#41 - Anthony Foyt IV - ABC Supply Co.

Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing

#02 - Graham Rahal - TBA

Vision Racing

#20 - Ed Carpenter - TBA

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

#23 - Ana Beatriz - TBA

Panther Racing

#16 - TBA - TBA

Team 3G

#98 - TBA - TBA

HVM Racing

#79 - Junior Strous - Shell

Rumored/Possibilities

Rahal-Letterman Racing

#17 - Oriol Servia - TBA

Hemelgarn Racing

#91 - Buddy Lazier - TBA

Robby Gordon Motorsports

#?? - Robby Gordon - TBA

PDM Racing

#?? - TBA - TBA

Walker Racing

#?? - J.R. Hildebrand - Automatic Fire Sprinklers

Stars & Stripes Racing

#?? - TBA - TBA

Free Agent Drivers

Tomas Scheckter - Brings a fair amount of Mona Vie money.

J.R. Hildebrand - Seemed ready to get the fifth Andretti Autosport car, but with the announcement of John Andretti, it seems unlikely. Linked to a couple of teams.

Jonathan Summerton - Linked to a couple of teams.

Oriol Servia - Ran last season with Rahal Letterman Racing at Indy. RLR would like to have him back but do not have a deal.

Scott Sharp - In tight with the owner of Patron Spirits who sponsors and drives for Sharp's ALMS GT team. Drove for Panther Racing at Indy in 2009.

Simon Pagenaud - Took over Scott Sharp's seat with Patron-Highcroft Racing in the ALMS Prototypes. Was a rising open-wheel talent before reunification.

Buddy Rice - Robin Miller says it doesn't look good for Buddy Rice to return in 2010.

Buddy Lazier - Again, Miller doesn't seem hopeful for Buddy Lazier to return in 2010. If Hemelgarn puts something together, expect Buddy to drive it though.

James Hinchcliffe - Has money, might be looking for a one-off Indy 500 ride to go along with his Firestone Indy Lights Season.

Roger Yasukawa - Qualified or attempted to qualify from 2003 until 2008. Competed at Motegi in 2009.


Of course, anything out side of the confirmed rides are not guaranteed, and there are more possibilities that could pop up, and more drivers that could show up looking for rides. That is the magic of the Indianapolis 500. It's not solely the race that gets us excited, but the I500 Silly Season, every single practice lap, the pace laps, bump day, pole day, race day, carb day... The entire event is just so magical.

Right now, I've got 38 cars penciled in to attempt to qualify for the big race. That basically counts all my confirmed and likely's. I'm thinking there will be another 1 or 2 cars show up that aren't in that neighborhood yet, and considering Honda is preparing 40 engines for Indy, I think we can expect around that number.

Every time a new car or car/driver combo is confirmed or becomes likely to occur, I will update this list.

Please feel free to discuss in the comments section and even mention possibilities I might have missed. I'll be glad to update the list as best I can, and I hope you enjoy the up to date list.

EDIT: After a quick update, I've corrected Davey Hamilton's car number (#21), Jay Howard's car number (#66), added Walker Racing with J.R. Hildebrand as a possibility, and added Junior Strous with HVM Racing as a likely.

Andretti to Andretti


John Andretti will be returning to Indy this year in the #43 machine in a joint venture between Richard Petty and Andretti Autosport.

Last year J. Andretti and R. Petty competed as driver and owner respectively in conjunction with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. They started 28th (Andretti's lowest qualifying position ever at Indy) and finished 19th.

As a prelude to Indy, John Andretti will also be running at Kansas with Andretti Autosport and Richard Petty. This will be John's first time in a Dallara on a track other then Indy since his stint with Roth Racing in 2008.

The car will feature the familiar Petty colors and will carry Petty's famous #43.

This puts Andretti Autosport up to 5 cars for Kansas and the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, but more or less rules out J.R. Hildebrand running the fifth car for AA.

Perhaps this means rumors of J.R. starting his own team are more then simply fiction.

3/23/10

Bag It

For those of you complaining about the recent announcement that Bertrand Baguette will be running full time beginning at Barber in Alabama, time to stop. The European horse that traveled across the ocean you keep beating is now dead.

We get it already, you don't like that Bertrand Baguette from Belgium will be running the Izod Indycar Series when others like Paul Tracy, Buddy Rice, Graham Rahal, J.R. Hildebrand, Jonathan Summerton, and many other North Americans don't have full time rides confirmed at the moment.

However, given the option of adding a car to the field through Conquest Racing for Bertrand Baguette (champion of the 3.5-Litre Formula Renault 3.5 series, the same series Robert Kubica, Heikki Kovalainen, Franck Montagny twice, Ricardo Zonta, and Fernando Alonso won) while all these North Americans sit on the sidelines, or would you rather not have Bertrand Baguette adding a car to the series while all the North Americans sit on the sidelines.

I'd choose to add Baguette if I had the choice. Luckily some of you don't get to choose.

I'll tell you a secret though, if you really want to hear it.

Are you ready?

Can you handle it?

Alright, here it comes!

Bertrand Baguette is not taking a seat from an American driver. If he did not bring that cash from the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium to get a seat at Conquest, Eric Bachelart would had simply continued running 1 car for Mario Romancini, and the car count would had remained the same.

In fact, adding Baguette may in fact help the teams find sponsors in the long run that might help find permanent seats for Americans. The more cars you add, the more excitement you will see at the race tracks. That could hopefully mean slightly higher ratings. That could help teams land sponsors. That could put J.R. Hildebrand in a seat.

Point is, stop the moaning about adding a car. A few months ago a bunch of you were freaking about how we would be lucky to see 20 cars regularly. Now we add a car to the grid full time, and you complain about it? Figure it out.

3/14/10

Franchitti On Point, Tagliani Surprises

Well, turns out the lack of practice on a green circuit in Sao Paolo, the silly season musical chairs, and the overall talent level of the Izod Indycar drivers has produced some good results for fans during qualifying for the first race of the 2010 season.

After the track grinding was completed overnight, drivers reported no issues with the previously slick Sambodrome section of the track. Warmup was dusty due to the grinding but the end result was qualifying times about 5 seconds faster then practice times yesterday.

Dario Franchitti took the pole for todays race on the streets of Sao Paolo with a time of 1:27:73. Surprisingly, Dario was the only true championship contender from 2009 to make the Firestone Fast 6.

The surprise of the session was Alex Tagliani and his FAZZT Race Team who are participating in their first Izod Indycar race ever. For a team that wasn't even truly formed 5 months ago, they have managed their first front row start and Tagliani has a great opportunity to put his B&W Dallara in victory lane.

Here is what Alex had to say about his teams first Firestone Fast 6.

"This was a huge team effort. Qualifying is just pure speed and the time to show what the Bowers and Wilkins FAZZT Race team is capable of. We came here with confidence but we were a little bit nervous like passing our first exam. We knew we had studied hard and did everything that we had to do but it is when you get to the race track that you can compare your self to others. I think it's a relief now, we broke the ice and we know where we stand. It's a tribute to all of the work that the guys have done. It's not just about building a car to go race, it's about building a team. From last September to now it shows what a good group of people we have built. I want to give a big thank you to the Bowers and Wilkins people who are here at the inaugural event for the IZOD IndyCar Series, what a great result for them! I am hoping we have just as good results for today's race."

Finishing third in qualifying was Justin Wilson in his first race with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Seeing DRR near the front in qualifying is a good sign for the team and puts J-Dub at the front where he belongs.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, also in his first race with a new team will start fourth, right ahead of his teammate and local favorite Tony Kanaan who starts sixth. This could be a sign of the beginning of a resurgence for Andretti Autosport (formerly Andretti-Green Racing) as I cannot recall the last time 2 AGR/AA cars made the Fast 6.

In fifth, Will Power makes his competitive return to American Open-Wheel Racing after his devastating crash with Nelson Philippe at Sonoma in 2009.

Rookies in the field include Takuma Sato at KVRT who starts 10th, Simona de Silvestro at HVM/Team Stargate Worlds who starts 11th, Alex Lloyd at Dale Coyne Racing who starts 15th, Mario Romancini in Conquest Racing's Dallara who starts 20th, and Ana Beatriz in the third Dreyer and Reinbold entry starting 22nd.

With three Ganassi or Penske cars outside of the top five, and other experienced and fast drivers spread throughout the field, it will make for an interesting race with what should probably be a pretty surprising podium.

I'm going to throw it out there, I've got Alex Tagliani as my underdog to take the win, if you can call a second place qualifier an underdog.

However, it will be tough to take the race away from Dario unless he makes a mistake somewhere on the course. He thrives on street circuits and usually doesn't put a wheel wrong.

Make sure you guys tune into Versus in the USA and TSN2 in Canada at 11:30AM EST for the pre-race show with the green flag scheduled to drop at 12:00PM.

It should be an exciting race. It seems as though there are plenty of passing opportunities and drafting opportunities and observers were saying drivers were getting drafts of up to 6 or 7 car lengths to pass during practice.

Make sure you sit down and enjoy the first race of what should be a very exciting 2010 Izod Indycar Series!

3/2/10

Fantasy Racing @ The Other Side

Well, my first Indycar Nation Fantasy League is online and open to anyone who cares to join. The league is password protected.

League Name: The Other Side 2010
Password: Rahal

I encourage all my loyal readers to join in for the fun and invite any of your friends to join in and follow along. After each race weekend, I'll make sure I post the updated standings on the blog and do a quick little write up for it.

Also, I'm going to try to get some sort of prize for the league. Nothing to pricey and no monetary prize. I'm going to try to get my hands on some IICS memorabilia on the cheap. No promises, but I'm hoping it will happen.

The more people the better.

Anyways, hurry up and sign up for the fun!

Lotus Engines to Indy?

Rumors are swirling that Lotus Group is looking to join the Indycar Series in 2010 as a way to promote the Lotus brand. James Rossiter is supposedly being backed by Lotus in 2010 at KVRT as a Team Lotus USA/KVRT car. James tested at Barber with KVRT and ran around the middle of the pack.

However, this story keeps evolving. Today Autocar is reporting that Lotus has confirmed they will be returning to Indycar racing at the season opening event in Sao Paolo on March 14th.

"Although full details are yet to be confirmed, it is expected a Lotus-branded team will run two cars in the championship under the Team Lotus USA banner. They will be Dallara built and Honda powered."

Now, that right there is a bit of a surprise. We had expected James Rossiter to run at KVRT with Lotus backing, but if the Lotus branded team is to be 2 cars, I'm not sure exactly what that means. Will KVRT be running four cars full time with two cars as KVRT and two cars as Team Lotus USA? Maybe there will be two KVRT/Team Lotus USA cars (Sato and Rossiter) with E.J. Viso competing as KVRT? Or will Team Lotus end up being a completely different entity altogether.

Either way, this is a pretty big development if an additional car comes out of the Lotus deal.

But the bigger development here is that Lotus Group just announced a partnership with Kevin Kalkhoven-owned Cosworth to develop engines for Lotus' road cars as well as all Lotus motorsport projects. Now, this would explain why Lotus Group would approach KVRT to help them run their program.

Considering Lotus Group wants to get involved, and they just recently signed a deal with Cosworth to develop both road and racing engines for them, is it that far fetched to believe that Lotus is looking to make a bid to join Honda in 2012 in the Indycar Series?

"Currently Honda supplies the 3.5-litre V8 powerplants in Indycar, but Lotus is said to be considering a bid to takeover the supply when Honda's contract ends in 2011."

This Team Lotus USA and Lotus Group's involvement in the Izod Indycar Series sounds like it is about to pick up. Watching the developments surrounding Lotus Group will be fun to watch heading into the not-so-distant future.

Honda might have someone to play with after all.

3/1/10

Indycar.com

Well, I just got in from Volleyball and noticed the Indycar.com website is up. I haven't seen any other blog posts about this on other blogs so I'm not really sure how up to date I am.

Anyways, it's a nice upgrade I think. I prefer the white/gray background to the old one. Gives it better contrast in my opinion.

Here I am acting like I know what makes a good website. Seems easy to navigate though, which is probably the most important thing.

As a side note, I see Jay Howard picked up another race with SFR this season. He will be racing at Kansas as a tune up for Indy. Both SFR cars will be at Kansas and it seems like Kansas will have a good turnout. It will be a good one to watch, and with the RoadRunner Turbo Indy 300 being broadcast on ABC, it will give a good image to the series having a bunch of cars there.
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