Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dragon Racing: Pinch Us

Seriously, did that just actually happen?

Dragon Racing. Thought dead and on the scrap heap, part time for 2012 at best. The butt of more than a few jokes around the INDYCAR fandom. Little more than an afterthought on most silly season projections.

So what news from Marshall Pruett greeted the night owls online last night?

"SPEED.com has learned that Jay Penske's ambitious plans to revitalize Dragon Racing could receive a major boost as four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais and Katherine Legge are close to forming a two-car team for 2012. Penske was unavailable for comment on Wednesday, and a formal announcement confirming the lineup is believed to be imminent".

Very few pieces of news are so stunning, you have to wonder for a moment if you're dreaming or hallucinating. This announcement definitely qualified.

Don't let anyone tell you they saw this coming. With message boards and Twitter and online articles, we often have at least a hunch about INDYCAR news before it's announced. Not this time. Apparently, about as many people knew about this as know the recipe for Coca-Cola, possibly fewer. For all I know, Marshall Pruett lives in some high-tech hermitage in the mountains, where all the deep secrets of INDYCAR are his to possess. I rightly fear and am in awe of the man.

Hysterics aside, just about everyone has Bourdais taking a ride with Peugeot this year, and Legge was projected most commonly to Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. If the official signing is truly imminent, then Jay Penske has instantly taken this team from an afterthought to a team that has to be given consideration for the 2012 campaign.

For those who thought Bourdais was a lost cause for INDYCAR, if Dragon Racing can truly bring this home, they will have landed one of the most experienced and sought-after drivers on the market. Add in the surprise signing of Kat Legge, and the turnaround is nothing short of miraculous. After the non-competitive drives of 2011, the debacle at Indy in May, well...

..."Holy crap", or a less mild expletive, seems to be the most common reaction to this news. And it might be the most proper one to have. What else can you say?

In time, questions about the team, the official announcement, the fact Dragon is now California-based, how they'll fare with Lotus, etc., will all have to be answered. But it's nice to simply and totally surprised for a change with some good news that none of us could have seen coming.

Congrats, Dragon Racing. You just might have the last laugh after all.

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