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.


Texas Firestone 550K Thoughts

There is something about Indycar at Texas Motor Speedway that just spells out excitement. Between the promotional skills of Eddie Gossage, the skill of the Izod Indycar Drivers, racing under the lights, and the wheel to wheel action, Texas is a must see each year, and very rarely does it dissapoint (2009 is the exception).

The race Saturday night saw 11 lead changes, multiple challenges for the lead, and slicin' and dicin' from 6th through 20th for most of the race. Anyone who complained about Texas last year (everyone) and Kansas this year (me) could not complain about the 550K this year. This race had drama, suspense, danger, and excitement all bundled up into one.

But can someone explain why Ryan Briscoe decided to ruin the Izod Indycars potential big night? Texas is one of the highest rated races asides from Indy the entire year, and is about as red, white, and blue as you can get in the USA. What a night for an American (specifically named Ryan, Marco, or Danica) to pull out a big "W" in Texas. With Danica and Marco in the running, as much as it pains me to say this, having a Danica/Marco 1-2 finish would had been a huge night for the series and Versus.

On a side note, did anyone else notice the roar from the crowd when Danica flew past Briscoe on his out lap? I guess they still like her in Texas.

However, it was good to see Briscoe bounce back from his Indy mistake and show the Captain he should no be replaced by a certain Graham Rahal. Briscoe was in contention all night and pulled away at the end, proving the Penske clan (along with Target Chip Ganassi) still has the best equipment, no matter how close Andretti Autosport gets.

I don't really want to get into the safety team screw up as it has been covered everywhere else already, instead, I'll simply link you to 16th and Georgetown's article on the matter. He did a great job explaining the situation, much better than I can do.

Back to racing matters, how about Alex Lloyd?! 3rd or 4th at Indy (depending on who you ask) and now an 8th place finish at TMS! Can I just remind everyone that Alex is no longer running for Chip Ganassi, but is instead running for Dale Coyne Racing. No offense to Dale, but his chances of putting in good performances occur on the twisty road courses where driver skills take precedence over aero. For Alex and Dale to be running in the top ten on ovals is a big step up for them, and I'm very happy to see it happen. Now, imagine if they were running a competent driver in the second car?

Next up on the radar for the Izod Indycar Series is the Iowa Corn Indy 250. That track has taken some time to get racey since they started going there, but it is by no means a boring race track. The 7/8 mile super-speedway as some drivers call it makes for a different view on short track racing, and usually provides tight finishes, and Hideki Mutoh sightings near the front.

As for the Texas Firestone 550K, I will give it 8.5 Robbie Knievel jumps out of 10.


Indy 500 is Over, Slackin' is Over

Yea, I know, I've been slackin' at this blog. Now that the Indy 500 is over, some things have caught my attention. This blog is slightly time consuming in the long run, but a couple of things have brought me to post this today, a couple things that make you think, not on a massive level, but a couple of things that make you appreciate the opportunity you have.

First of all, Jeff Iannucci over at My Name Is IRL has decided to put his writing on hold for personal reasons. For those of you that do not know, Jeff was one of the first Indycar bloggers, and one of the more famous ones (if you can call it famous, perhaps acknowledged was a better term). He posted for years on the subject of anything IRL informing people about smaller details and offering his opinion on the big picture while throwing in his witty humor along with it.

Jeff is the first Indycar blog I followed when the merger happened. I needed a place to get news asides from the Indycar website, and his blog provided that. In fact, often times, either his blog, or one of the blogs on his "sidepod" would report the news before the IRL would which was the best of both worlds.

After reading his blog for months and months, and really getting into the new Indycar Series, it was his humor and wit, along with the way he went about his writing that convinced me to start "The Other Side".

Unfortunately I do not have the humor and wit of one Mr. Iannucci, I think the only person to rival him in the blogging community is Pressdog. But when this blog is in full power mode, I do my best to provide the public with the information you guys seek, and the opinions you folks (for some reason) seem to care about.

Now that Jeff has left the circus, at least for now, it sort of gave me that jolt, that sense of being needed. Between all of us bloggers, we have to step up and try to fill the hole that Jeff and My Name is IRL has left so that you all can be kept up to date with the shenanigans and goings-on of the Indycar Series and all American Open-Wheel Racing.

The other thing that made me think today was a quote on Indystar.com from IRL CEO Randy Bernard regarding the 500.

"I didn't really hear any complaints, although I don't know if that's people just being polite when they talk to me,'' Bernard said. "That's why I like reading the blogs to find out what fans are saying. They're going to say the things you don't want to hear. So I'm going to make a point of reading what they're saying.''

It really makes you think, when you have the leader of a massive American institution claiming he wants to read blogs to find the opinions of fans. I mean, we have the opportunity, all of us, through my writing and your comments to perhaps make an impression on the man who leads the series we love (and hate).

Where else do we get an opportunity to influence any one of great power really. I think the closest thing you have is a politician who listens, but does not hear.

Mr. Bernard gives us that opportunity to create a positive influence and to have a stake in what we love. That is what made me realize I cannot continue to leave this blog sitting here idle any longer, and hopefully you folks will continue to trickle over here to catch some news and opinions, and maybe, just maybe, have your voices heard by the powers that be in AOWR.


Kansas = FAIL

Lets face facts, if you just watched the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300, you wasted about 2.5 hours of your Saturday, about 1.5 hours of it was commercials. It just wasn't entertaining, and I'm not the only one who felt that way. About the 65,000 empty seats tells you a bunch of people knew it wasn't worth spending money on.

It's time for this race to go the way of Nashville and Richmond in recent history and be left off the 2011 Izod Indycar Series schedule.

I know all you ovalcentric fans will give me crap for saying it, but I'll be good and even say it should be replaced by 1 or 2 ovals, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and 1 of Michigan, Milwaukee, Pheonix or Ponoco (whoever puts an effort forth, probably none of them, but you get the point).

I've made it known I like road courses and street courses more than ovals, but I still enjoy watching a good oval race.

However, seeing a track with a capacity of 81,687 with 65,000 empty seats or so gives off such a poor atmosphere. I mean they couldn't even hide it from the cameras.

Now, every good oval needs to have a couple lanes you can run. Kansas does have those lanes, but each of it's lanes runs the same speed. There is no differential in speeds between the bottom and top line, and the fact there is no lifting means every single car is running 210mph around the track. How can you pass when everyone around is you running 210mph? You can't!

Talking about the lack of lifting, this is getting stale. I don't care who can get the top speed in an air tunnel, or crank out the best results on a 7-post shaker rig. I care who can handle the car the best, and watching Scott Dixon run around Kansas Speedway at a constant 210mph is not fun. It's more or less bullshit racing. No, it's not even racing, it's just watching speed vs. speed when there is no talent involved.

If you can explain to me how Milka Duno went from being 8 seconds off the pace at the road courses, and .5 seconds off the pace at Kansas I'd love to know. I'm pretty sure she didn't pick up 7.5 seconds between then and now.

I want an oval race to pick out the best drivers in the field, not the best car.

So if today is the last time we see an IRL race at Kansas Speedway, I'll be dancing in the streets!

This track doesn't deserve to be on the schedule. The lack of people in the crowd proves it. The lack of need for talent proves it. The lack of good racing proves it.


Indy 500 Silly Season Update

Confirmed (33)

Andretti Autosport

#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
#20 - Ed Carpenter - TBA

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 (5)

A.J. Foyt Enterprises

#41 - Anthony Foyt IV - ABC Supply Co.

Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing

#02 - Graham Rahal - TBA

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

#23 - Ana Beatriz - TBA

Team 3G

#98 - TBA - TBA

HVM Racing

#79 - Junior Strous - Shell

With the confirmation that Ed Carpenter will join Dan Wheldon in the Panther Racing stable, the number of confirmed entries hit 33! Therefore, anyone else that confirms to the race will be adding to the magic of bump day this year.

Paul Tracy will most likely make an announcement regarding Indy at Long Beach this coming weekend.


Panther Enters Carpenter for Indy

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 7, 2010) – Panther Racing announced today it has partnered with Vision Racing and will enter Ed Carpenter in the No. 20 Dallara Honda during next month’s 94th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The collaboration between the two IZOD IndyCar Series teams will pair Carpenter with full-time Panther driver Dan Wheldon, pilot of the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing entry.

“We looked at a lot of opportunities for the Month of May, and as strong as Vision Racing has run the last few years, we felt like partnering with them made a lot of sense for us,” John Barnes, CEO and co-owner of Panther Racing, said. “I feel that Ed (Carpenter) is a threat to win at any race he runs, and he’s proved that to this league in the last two or three years. His addition to the National Guard team along with Dan Wheldon is going to make our entire team stronger. I honestly hope this isn’t a one-and-done deal, and we very much look forward to the opportunity of expanding this and running more IZOD IndyCar Series races together this season.”

The partnership is even more special for Barnes, who has been friends with Vision team owner Tony George for over 20 years.

“I am very pleased that we have this opportunity to partner with an excellent organization. This collaboration with Panther Racing will allow two teams that want nothing else but to compete and strive for success in the upcoming Indianapolis 500 the opportunity do so to the best of their abilities,” George said. “With this partnership between teams and drivers, we will also be able to maximize the potential of both parties and field what I am sure will be a very formidable two-car effort. There are close personal and professional relationships within our two organizations that should allow us to put forth a cohesive effort we will all be proud of and have high expectations for achieving results.”

Six-year IndyCar Series veteran Ed Carpenter will make a return behind the wheel of the No. 20 that he has driven since Vision Racing’s inception in 2005. The 29-year-old Indianapolis resident finished the 2009 season by earning his career best finish of second, matched his career best start of fourth, led 35 laps and drove to six top-ten finishes.

“I am very excited not only to be returning to the Indianapolis 500, but also working with Panther Racing,” Ed Carpenter, who finished fifth and eighth in the last two runnings of the Indianapolis 500, explained. “John Barnes has been a family friend for a long time, and I very grateful for this opportunity. I feel that with my experience, Vision Racing’s experience and Panther Racing’s experience and success at Indianapolis that we will be a very competitive duo. It has been very hard watching from the sidelines so far this season, and I am very motivated to compete for my first win.”

Panther Racing, who boasts 15 IndyCar Series wins and two league championships, is currently ninth in the championship standings with Wheldon after the first two races of the 2010 season. The team has finished runner-up in each of the last two Indianapolis 500s; in 2008 with Vitor Meira and again last year with Wheldon.

“I believe the addition of Ed Carpenter and Vision Racing to the National Guard Panther Racing group is phenomenal,” Wheldon said. “Ed’s always been very quick, especially around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I’m very much looking forward to being able to have a teammate of his caliber. I know we’ll work together well and be able to move the team forward, which will give us both a chance to win the Indianapolis 500. And it’s also very positive to have Vision’s involvement in the Panther program. I’m excited about being able to use some of their expertise and it’s great to see them back on track – they’re a team that was very close to their first IZOD IndyCar Series victory in Kentucky last year, and this partnership will get all of us one step close to victory lane.”

Vision Racing returns to IZOD IndyCar Series competition for the Indianapolis 500 as a result of this partnership with Panther Racing after suspending racing operations on January, 28, 2010 until such time that sponsorship could be secured.

“It has been an exceptionally long and extended off-season for Vision Racing that has recently had us turning our attention solely to the Indianapolis 500. The challenge of putting together a sponsorship package to enable Vision Racing to run the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule proved to be much more difficult than anticipated but our intention is to be back competing full-time in the future,” George explained. “Taking part in the 2010 Indianapolis 500 has been a priority and while we have yet to solidify a sponsorship lineup for the No. 20 Panther-Vision entry for Indy, we expect to make some sponsorship announcements in the coming weeks.”


Bartender Rumors #8

The Bartender is back and has some rumors for all of you to digest once again. Actually, it is more I finally had the time to get out there while he was around, but I finally have done it. I'll try to make this more of a constant thing now that we are in season again.

- Junior Strous should end up at HVM during May as that was the main reason he withdrew from his contract with Moore Racing in the FIL series. HVM offered him a way into the Indycar Series this season, and specifically a ride at Indy.

- He seems pretty damn sure there will be a minimum of forty cars at Indy.

- Even though Vision has been silent, he says they will most likely run ovals this season, and to expect them at Kansas and Indy at a minimum.

- Team 3G's struggles last season is making it difficult to put anything together for this season. He says Indy will probably happen for them though. They managed to pull it off last season, so they should be able to do it this year.

- He says the owners are pushing for multiple chassis' in 2012 or 2013, whenever this finally happens.

- Apparently there are rumors that the IRL is pressuring Milka Duno to get out of the car, at least on road courses. Apparently someone approached her about becoming a team owner and using the CITGO money to run a younger more talented racer.

Alright, that is what I got out of him. Whether you think it is crazy or not, that is what I was told.

I took some flack last time I posted from a couple people so I am simply going to finish this with a disclaimer.

I have no actual connections to any Izod Indycar team members or drivers, I am simply the messenger for this crazy bartender. I'm simply passing this along to others who might enjoy having a good read. These could be true or false, but I don't pretend to know which way they go. If you don't enjoy what is said in these bartender rumors, then you should stop reading them.

Let me know what you guys think about these rumors, feel free to comment.


Swift #66

I haven't put much talk into the chassis debate coming up as everyone and their mother has beaten the topic to death. However, with the release of Swift's new #66 concept, I felt the need to share with everyone.

This car is freakin' fantastic!

It may be evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary, but boy could I see a bunch of those cars tearing it up at TMS or IMS or Long Beach with the Lola concept and the Dallara concept.

I have absolutely not problem seeing this exact car on track. No modifications whatsoever makes me a happy man with this concept.

If the ICONIC board were to come back to Randy Bernard and say something along the lines of, "Let's allow Swift, Dallara, Lola, and BAT to build their concepts and sell them on the open market", I would be quite alright with that.

I don't think that we should allow multiple chassis' and allow the Delta Wing project to join in with those multiple chassis. I think it would stick out like a sore thumb, and it would just seem wrong having the four evolutions racing against the one revolution.

If this car is able to compete with Lola and Dallara and even BAT (although I hate their design) I'd be quite happy.

What a sexy lookin' car.

Check out more pictures of the car here.


94th Indy 500 Silly Season

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


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


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.


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.


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!


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.



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.


The BAT Project

No, this isn't about the wonderful game BAT Racer which has recently been dumbed down to avoid copyright infringements.

This is about Bruce Ashmore, Alan Mertens and Tim Wardrop and their plans to submit their own chassis design to the Indy Racing League for inclusion in the 2012 plans.

Have to give credit to Shane Rogers who must had stumbled across this article on racecar-engineering.com in between feeding the Kangaroo's down under.

According to the article, the BAT Project is emphasizing safety features of their new chassis, as they have already met with Indianapolis surgeon Dr Terry Trammell who is well known in the safety of the Indycar Series, and IndyCar's Safety and Technical Directors, Jeff Horton and Les Mactaggart.

They also include that they will build everything within 30 miles of IMS. Now, to me that seems optimistic. They are going to need a hell of a factory to build 30 or 40 chassis' and to expect all pieces of the puzzle to be built around Indy, specifically 30 miles around Indy seems pretty tough.

Of course, the same ideas when it comes to aero including helping overtaking by providing the trailing car with stable air to make passing easier.

This BAT Project is a bit of a surprise. I had thought that chassis ideas were all submitted and done with, waiting for the IRL to approve and accept 1 chassis. Now this proposal will probably aid in screwing with their heads even more as they now have a fifth proposal to decide on.

Randy Bernard is going to have a busy first month as CEO.


Here Come The Announcements

With the Barber test starting tomorrow, driver announcements are in abundance when it comes to the 2010 Izod Indycar Season.

Let's see what has happened recently. KVRT announced that they signed Takuma Sato to drive one of their Dallara's in 2010. Today, KVRT announced one of the worst kept secrets in the IRL, that they would be running E.J. Viso in 2010 with PDVSA, Herbalife, CANTV and SBA Airlines supporting him.

Today, NHL Racing (and Honda) confirmed that Hideki Mutoh would be running for NHL Racing in 2010 with Formula Dream/Panasonic on the car.

On the Dale Coyne front, I've got some ideas in my head. Milka Duno is getting fitted for a seat for the test at Barber in one of Dale's Dallara's. Try to follow my logic here. Of course, this is all hearsay and hope on my part.

Dale Coyne Racing #19 Boy Scouts America Car will be run by J.R. Hildebrand.
Dale Coyne Racing #18 will be run by Milka Duno on all ovals and a couple of road courses while Jonathan Summerton will fill in on the road courses Milka doesn't run.

How does that sounds? We know J.R. has tested at Coyne, and we know that Jonathan Summerton says he will probably be going to Barber this week to test. Anyone like the sounds of that? Sure, part time for Jonathan wouldn't be as great as full time, but it would be better then no Jonathan!

Alright, back to facts.

Conquest has yet to announce that they signed Mario Romancini for 2010 out of Firestone Indy Lights. He will drive along side another Brazilian who is familiar with the team from 2008, Jaime Camara. Neither of the two drivers have been announced, but Mario should be for the full season, while I'm not sure about Jaime.

As far as I'm concerned, this is two more cars then I previously thought we'd see in 2010 on the grid.

As I was typing, I realized that the entry list for the Barber test this week was posted.

There are 21 cars on the entry list with 3 TBA's (1 from KVRT, Conquest, and HVM each). If you want my opinion, we should assume James Rossiter will be in the KVRT TBA (#32), Mario Romancini in Conquest's machine (#34) and Simona de Silvestro in HVM's only entry (#78). Sarah Fisher and Jay Howard will be sharing the #67 SFR entry.

Absent from the list of entries is Dale Coyne's proposed two cars. I'm not sure if that means they won't attend the test, or if Dale just didn't file the paperwork in time.

I know some teams were considering not attending the tests due to the low ambient and track temperatures predicted at Barber. Supposedly they will be lucky if they hit the 50's in Alabama, which is just about where the Firestone rubber needs to be to function as planned.

So right now, if you assume that each of the cars that attend the Barber test race full or part seasons (SFR is planning two part time efforts), we should see somewhere between 20 to 26 cars at various tracks outside of Indy. You take the 21 cars at Barber, add in two Dale Coyne cars, 1 Conquest, and hopefully one more HVM, and you've got yourself a pretty good lineup.

Oh, and don't forget that Graham Rahal will most likely end up racing somewhere in 2010 in a Dallara.

Tomas Scheckter has some money kickin' around, and Mario Moraes still might have some money kickin' around.

It doesn't look as bad as some are predicting now does it?

EDIT: It was pointed out in a few places that Dan Wheldon and Panther Racing were left off the Barber test entry list. Not sure if they will be attending or not, but please do not start fear mongering that they will not be participating in 2010!


Romancini to Conquest

It seems Conquest wanted to prove me wrong. I wrote earlier today that we shouldn't expect them for a full season.

Tomorrow, Conquest will make me look bad (although I'm quite happy they will do so) when they announce that Mario Romancini will run the 2010 Izod Indycar Series under the Conquest banner.

Mario competed in Firestone Indy Lights competition last season for RLR/Andersen Racing and grabbed two wins on his way to 6th place in the final standings.

I'm looking forward to seeing if there are any sponsors mentioned tomorrow in the announcement as I'm curious as to who Romancini is bringing with him to the program as they begin testing at Barber on Tuesday.

Now the attention shifts to what else Conquest has up their sleeve. This Romancini deal comes out of nowhere. The Brazilian article breaking the Romancini to Conquest deal also mentioned something about Tomas Scheckter supposedly having a deal with Conquest, but that it has fallen through.

Now your left to wonder who else Conquest can bring in to fill what is rumored to be a second seat they could run full season, or even part season. The names of Bruno Junqueira, Jan Heylan, and Ana Beatriz still come to mind due to past history, the IRL Winter Meetings (Bruno and Jan attended the meetings with Eric Bachelart), as well as rumors that Ana Beatriz will be with an undisclosed team at Barber this coming week.

I can't remember where I saw it, but a credible source even said they could run three full time cars in 2010.

Right now, I'm happy seeing Romancini in 2010 at Conquest as that was a car I doubted we'd see full time.

It's Silly Season Time

Silly Season is kicking it into high gear. Rumors and facts are flying around like crazy and it's hard to tell what is happening, and where it's happening.

This is the season of deciphering bablefish translations from various countries. This is the season of sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to see who will and won't show up. This is the season that makes you go moan and complain. But ultimately, this is simply the precursor to the season that really matters. Once the 2010 Izod Indycar Series season starts, the Silly Season is just a thing of the past.

But until that happens, Silly Season is all we have to go by (asides from a bunch of different designs for 2012). So I figure I'll go through each team and see what is happening driver wise.

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing

Rumors have been flying around about anything from a 3 car team (Rahal, Lloyd, Mutoh) to a 0 car team. There are problems at the ownership level according to Robin Miller and that is causing problems. Sounds like Lanigan will soon not be part owner of the team.

Right now, Hideki Mutoh has just been confirmed by Autosport and a few other publications as solidifying his ride at NHL Racing in 2010. That guarentees NHL Racing will stay on the grid in 2010 which is a very good thing. I guess it's possible they put together a package for Rahal or Lloyd is able to get his HER Energy sponsorship back in line before the season begins. But as for right now, it seems as though NHL will be a 1 car team in 2010.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing

TCGR seems set with two cars between Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. Efforts to put Graham Rahal in the third car are probably still on going, but Chip made it sound like it won't happen, mentioning that all sponsorship possibilities were for the 2011 season. Unless something major happens, look for Ganassi to be a two car team in 2010, a very good two car team.

Team Penske/Penske Racing

Roger Penske has set his organization up well with a 3 car effort in 2010. You've got to think that Ryan Briscoe wants to make up for his disappointing ending to 2009, and he has Helio Castroneves and Will Power pushing him. Any three of these guys are 2010 Championship contenders, and expect them to be battling with Ganassi as usual.

HVM Racing

After a tough off-season and questions surrounding the team and who would be driving for it in 2010, I feel like we got some sort of confirmation from Robert Doornbos via Twitter that he will be racing this season with HVM (through E-Factor sponsorship, I believe). Don't take that as confirmation, but I'm thinking it's a distinct possibility.

As for Simona de Silvestro, I'm not sure how that's going to go. I know she tested a FIL car on an oval, and testing one of HVM's Dallara's on a road course with Stargate colors on her car, however, the producers of the Stargate games just went bankrupt, so we'll see what effect that has on her ability to land a 2010 ICS ride with their backing.

So in 2010, expect Robert Doornbos to land on the grid with HVM. Asides from that, Simona de Silvestro has an outside shot at the second seat, if she can find the money to drive that car.

Andretti Autosport

Between Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, and Danica Patrick, Michael Andretti has set himself up well for a good three car squad in 2010. Add to that the potential of Ryan Hunter-Reay running anywhere from 5 events to the full season, you have to think that Andretti Autosport is ready to jump back into competition near the top of the field with Ganassi and Penske. Tony Kanaan now has RHR to share setup information with, which will then be used by Marco and Danica.

Expect AA to run back where they belong, up front with the big boys in 2010 with 3-4 cars depending on where they are and how much money they find.


KVRT are the big movers this offseason. In 2009 they ran 1 car for Mario Moraes, and a second car at selected races for Paul Tracy. Now, after struggling all off-season to find sponsorship for Mario Moraes, they seem poised to run 3 cars full time between Takuma Sato (Confirmed), E.J. Viso (Not confirmed, but close enough), and James Rossiter (Not comfirmed, but very rumored). Add Paul Tracy at selected events, that makes 4 cars at KVRT every now and then quite possible.

KVRT also apparently signed Nelson Merlo, a Brazilian, for the opening round of the championship in Sao Paolo.

Then you wonder what happens to Mario Moraes. The kid had problems with funding once his father passed away, but Curt Cavin said he believed Moraes had his finances figured out and would be returning to Indycars this season. So does this mean KVRT will run 4 full time cars in 2010? Or will Moraes have to bring his skills elsewhere?

Panther Racing

This former power house 1 car team seems set to continue in it's ways. Dan Wheldon is back at Panther in 2010, mainly since there were no other openings available. There were rumors that Giorgio Pantano would bring money for a second Panther car, but those rumors have died down substantially.

Expect one National Guard Panther Racing car in 2010.

Luczo Dragon/De Ferran Racing

Luczo Dragon picked up a strong ally in Gil de Ferran this past week. With Raphael Matos returning to his seat full time in 2010, this team looks keen to build on a good rookie season.

In the presser, the team was asked about running a second car, to which they said they were planning on 1 car, but working on some new developments for a second car. Maybe look for Ana Beatriz in the second car, or maybe even Graham Rahal if Gil can pull something out of his rear end.

FAZZT Race Team

This team is set with 1 car for 2010. Sponsorship hasn't really been announced aside from the opening race, but Alex Tagliani will be driving the number 77 Dallara.

Expect a second car from them for Indianapolis and maybe the two Canadian races. Daniel Morad and James Hinchcliffe have been rumored for the second seat at those races.

Conquest Racing

The biggest question surrounding Conquest is whether they will get to the grid or not. Rumors are flowing that they could field anywhere from 1-3 pay drivers are various races throughout the season. Names like Jan Heylan, Bruno Junqueira, and Ana Beatriz have been rumored, with Bruno and Jan attending the winter meetings with Eric Bachelart.

This team always finds a way to put something together, even if it isn't for the full season. Bachelart finds a way to keep his employees employed rather then out on the street.

Look for Conquest to make various starts, but don't really expect a full season.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

D&R recently announced their two car team consisting of Mike Conway and Justin Wilson. Seems this will be their first year in a while without a large mix of drivers coming in and out of the team. Reports say they have stepped up their game as well, so 2010 should be a good year for them. Maybe expect an extra car at Indy for John Andretti again?

Dale Coyne Racing

As usual Dale hasn't announced his drivers yet, but he did announce a new partnership with the Boy Scouts of America program and that he planned on running two cars in 2010. J.R. Hildebrand tested for DCR at Sebring recently in one of the teams Dallara's. Coyne has made no secrets that he has tried to sign Graham Rahal to the BSA car, but Robin Miller says the contract is too long term for Graham to spend at DCR. Dale is trying to build a program with continuity, and just as he offered a two year deal to Justin Wilson, you would think he did the same for Graham Rahal.

RM is also reporting that Milka Duno could land in the second DCR seat (shame!).

Sarah Fisher Racing

Sarah Fisher Racing is expanding to two cars for certain events this season. They hired Jay Howard to run 4 races in 2010 with Kingdom Tire backing, alongside Sarah who will be running 9 races backed by Dollar General.

Look for some good things from Sarah on the ovals with her new Dallara this season. Hoping to see her turn some heads now that she will be on track a little more often.

Team 3G

This team is anyones guess. Let's face it, does anyone even know if they still exist?

A.J. Foyt Enterprises

I originally forgot to include them in the silly season report, even after I just read the feature on Vitor Meira at Foyt in 2010. My thanks to Rick who mentioned Foyt in the comment section.

Foyt will be represented by 1 car in 2010 driven by Vitor Meira. Or course, AJ would enter another car if the league needed it I think. Rick did mention Rahal at Foyt as an intriguing idea, but I doubt the thought has crossed Graham's mind.

Expect 1 car from Foyt with maybe 1 or 2 more cars at Indy.

These are all the teams I can think of. I'm sure if I'm missing someone, I'll be reminded of it on the comments section. Hope this silly season update was helpful for you all. I'll try to post a car count idea relatively soon.
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