Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday INDYCAR Mailbag: Teams Running Second Cars In '12?

Every so often, I get emails from readers, generally from the folks who use the subscribe function on this site. It’s always great to talk about racing a bit more in-depth with other fans, and I really appreciate everyone who takes the time to leave feedback.

I had a good question from a reader this week, so I asked and received permission to use it for a mailbag. Please note this is not a Robin Miller mailbag, which means the likelihood of reading about someone promising for the fifth time this year that they’ll never watch INDYCAR again is pretty remote. No, an IndyCar Advocate mailbag is not an angry thing.

Our question from our friend Louis in West Lafayette, Indiana (home of the bowl-bound Purdue Boilermakers, wouldn’t you know):

Do you know which teams are running second cars in 2012?

Well first thing to remember is I'm not an insider on the stuff. I read, track, and occasionally get the odd piece of good info passed along to me, so take this as you will. The second thing to remember is in any given year, many normally single-car teams will talk about running a second car. However, the reality is that most don’t end up doing it, as exciting as it is to consider. However, with the new car, having another teammate to work through setup and testing with certainly becomes an even bigger boost to a program.

Excluding existing multi-car teams such as Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti, as well as teams such as KV where the expectancy is 2-3 cars, let’s look at who we have. I would say right now, teams such as Michael Shank, Conquest, and Bryan Herta are all going to be one-car efforts, barring something shocking. Dale Coyne Racing seems to be in line for two cars, though guessing Coyne’s plans can be like trying to decipher the Voynich Manuscript. Ed Carpenter Racing has discussed adding another car, but that sounds like it might be more of a future project for this team, and would be part-time in any case.

So that leaves us with a handful of teams that are potentially in line for a second driver: Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, Foyt Racing, Panther Racing, Lotus HVM Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. I've tried below to provide links to some relevant articles as we discuss these teams:

-Sam Schmidt Motorsports has said they’re currently 60/40 for a second car, though the most likely outcome right now seems to be a couple of partial-season deals for various drivers in that seat.

-I believe Dreyer and Reinbold will again likely be a two-car team--that's certainly their plan right now.

-By all accounts, Foyt is upgrading their engineering situation, and if Oriol Servia does land a seat with the team, he might see a teammate for Indy, but that’d be about it.

-Panther Racing seemed very likely to at least have a one-off additional car for the Indy 500, but some of the chatter around the team makes me think a second full-time car for this program is more of a reality than in previous season. I’d look for something in the next couple of weeks from the team. A veteran driver paired with J.R. Hildebrand could be a nice step for them.

-Lotus HVM remains linked with veteran F1 driver Jean Alesi, who plans to run the Indy 500 for Lotus in 2012. There’s talk of him doing more races than that, but I wouldn't bet on it.

-Rahal Letterman Lanigan is probably the most likely team on this list, along with Dreyer and Reinbold, to run two cars in 2012. With a host of drivers having plausible connections and scenarios for driving for RLLR, the resuscitated IndyCar team seems certain to field a duo next year. Expect the first driver announcement before Christmas.

-The one that intrigues me is Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (boy, that “Hartman” will take some getting used to, won’t it?). With a rookie driver and expanding to a full season with the new car, there’s no team that would perhaps benefit as much from a second car as this one. Of course, they’re not even officially full-time yet, so right now, those second car hopes seem awfully remote. I include them on here because some folks have been kicking around rumors of a former 500 winner "helping out" at the team, but it seems pretty thin right now.

If I had to guess right now, I’d say you’ll see two full-time cars at Dreyer and Reinbold, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, and Panther, with one-offs or part-time second cars at Sam Schmidt (majority of the season) and Foyt Racing (Indy only?). I'm on the fence with HVM, thinking we'll see Alesi at the 500 as a maximum. Of course, that’s only a mildly educated guess, based on everything I’ve heard and read.

Thanks for the great question, Louis, and I hope that helped at least a little. If you've got a question or topic you'd like covered, or just want pass along a commment, remember you can always find me on Twitter (@indycaradvocate), or email me at mail.rpgblog(at) Have a great weekend!

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