The announcement yesterday that Bertrand Baguette would be driving in the World Endurance Championship this season was both good news and bad news, as far as I was concerned. Good news because it sounds like the Breadman will have some steady employment, but bad news because it’ll be running LeMans instead of, say, Milwaukee. I’ll have to hope for a Baguette appearance at Indy, I suppose. Baguette-mania will keep.
As the season creeps ever closer, all of us have drivers that don’t have deals firmed up that we’re still keeping tabs on, as we hope they find that deal to race somewhere in INDYCAR this year. Here are five drivers from throughout INDYCAR that are especially on my personal watch list as the season draws near (bearing in mind we already discussed Tomas Scheckter on Monday, and Rubens Barrichello has been confirmed):
Pippa Mann: It sounds like it’s down to the bottom of the 9th for the social media fan favorite in terms of securing a full-time ride, but even if that doesn’t happen, it’d be great to hear something in terms of a partial season or one-off at Indianapolis this May. With as many Pippa fans as are in my household, May will just be that much more fun if she returns for at least a second effort at the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.
Stefan Wilson: Wilson had a great late-season charge in Firestone Indy Lights last year for Andretti Autosport, and if he can get a solid ride there once again this year, he’s got to be considered a top candidate for the championship. Unfortunately, right now, it doesn’t sound like any sort of deal is confirmed for 2012. Here’s hoping that changes before the season gets underway.
Connor De Phillippi: One of the most promising young American prospects in the ladder right now is still looking to secure an Indy Lights deal for the season. CDP has also proven himself to be a fan-friendly sort of driver online, and honestly, Lights would better off with him in that series this year. He's tested with Brooks Associates Racing, but there's little other news to report right now.
Stefan Rzadinski: The second Stefan on our list, the young Canadian was a surprise entrant at Edmonton’s twin Lights races last year. He could be the next part of a long legacy of Canadian IndyCar drivers, but right now, the focus sounds like it’s on a Star Mazda or mixed program for this season. If it happens, don’t overlook him having the potential to make a big splash.
Nick Mancuso: One of my favorites on the Mazda Road to Indy right now; the crocodile-catching, viper-chasing driver made the transition to Star Mazda from sports cars in 2011, and hopes are to have him back for a sophomore campaign this year. Unfortunately, right now there’s nothing further to report. It’d be a shame if we missed out on his unique personality this season.
It's a difficult part of Silly Season, waiting for the drivers you liked to either be signed or deliver the bad news, and it has to be a thousand times worse for drivers waiting for that call. With any luck, the names on this list with have some type of good news for us sooner rather than later.