After yesterday afternoon, we all should have a little bit more confidence that a couple more of the drivers we want to see have a chance at a seat for 2012. Not only will Ed Carpenter be full-time with his new team, Ed Carpenter Racing, but Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced plans to field two full-time cars next year.
(And yes, I did an impromptu happy dance. Didn't everyone?)
First off, Ed Carpenter Racing. Tony George is co-owner, and it sounds as if Derrick Walker might also have a place with the team. Fuzzy’s Vodka was a personal sponsor for Ed this year, and of course he won the 2010 Kentucky pole in Fuzzy’s livery with Panther Racing. Apparently, the racing and personal relationship to this point was enough to net a 3-year sponsorship deal. Fuzzy’s had been hinting at an announcement, but really, this was a far bigger deal than I think many of us were expecting.
|Sadly, Ed rejected the "Fuzzy Vision |
Racing" team name.
(Image Courtesy IndyCar Media)
If Ed Carpenter Racing takes care of where one driver will be, Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s announcement opens up possibilities for many other drivers. Free agents such as Indy 500 champ Buddy Rice, Bertrand Baguette, Jay Howard, and Pippa Mann all have connections to this team. Vitor Meira spent two years there. Alex Lloyd’s Indy 500 ride in 2008 was partially with them. If they do manage to field two full-time drivers as is their plan, that could be a great landing spot for any one of a number of drivers still looking for a solid berth for ’12.
Let’s not forget that more teams, more seats should mean more employment for those racing folks looking for work. We know there are some quality people out there (mechanics, PR folks) who would love jobs in this series. Fingers crossed this is the catalyst for some good things for those individuals.
Silly season can kick your butt, but it also can provide some truly great moments. Wednesday afternoon turned out to be one of those great moments for the fans and boosters of INDYCAR. We’ll have our rollercoaster ride this offseason, but this is one of the good times. Let’s bask in it for a bit.