Well, here we are, into the Month of May, and between Chevy's appeal of an appeal of an appeal of an appeal, Jay Howard looking for a ride, possible shakeups with other teams, and Jean Alesi apparently still somehow in the mix, matters continue to be on just this side of insane. Here are a few notes and comments to get you up to speed on everything happening with INDYCAR and the Indy 500 right now:
-We've got to start with one of the bigger stories, and that's the swirl of Panther/Dreyer and Reinbold rumors out there. I've now heard everything from a buyout of DRR by Panther to some formation of a partnership or simple tech alliance. I'm tending to think it's some sort of partnership/joint entry to help DRR get that Chevy engine--right now, I'm stopping short of calling it anything else. However, I do think it's going to be a pretty big deal in INDYCAR terms.
-So is Jean Alesi in or out? After Newman/Haas pulled their entry, we're still waiting to hear if his odyssey to the 500 is back on. The 47 year-old isn't exactly awash in confidence from the fans, but he'd hardly be the first driver to come late in looking for a ride at Indy. The Alesi camp seems very confident of an announcement shortly, but we'll have to see what actually transpires.
-I am really, really glad that Chevy's appeal of their failed is being heard on May 9th. Not because I feel justice will or won't be served, but at least we have a definitive date where this case will finally die, one way or the other. Many people geek out on tech spec arguments. I am not one of them. In fact, if something mechanical can't be fixed by banging on it repeatedly with a hammer, I am generally at a loss for how to remedy it.
-Although Michael Shank Racing hasn't given up, it certainly doesn't seem very likely they'll find a spot for Indy. But with the way this month has gone already, I'm not counting anything out, including Tom Sneva coming out of retirement.
-As I mentioned in yesterday's article, Jay Howard is still looking for a ride. It's hard to tell what direction this is going, or what a Panther/DRR merge for Indy could mean for its prospects. I'm also wondering if it isn't down to Howard or Alesi for a final Lotus seat. I can only imagine the immense amount of heartburn and frustration that comes with shopping a deal in a transition year. Keep at it, Jay, and best of luck.
-Don't forget, Townsend Bell should be "officially" announced as the driver of the #99 Sam Schmidt car today. That's been long expected, but it's always good to fill in another TBA after the actual announcement.
-A thought on the recent rash of news, for good and for ill: this is what a new car brings. This is what engine competition brings. This is what people wanting to be part of a Series brings. For every maddening engine discussion, there's a lot going on for the fan to follow, speculate on, and debate. The time of a small story each week, followed by a big story perhaps once each month, are over. We're getting into a busy news cycle, and though that's not always the best when discussing things in perspective, it is an overall positive. Ultimately, more to discuss is good for INDYCAR, but they need to do a strong job in promoting and selling the right story lines through social media.
-Every year we worry about not getting 33 cars, and every year it happens. Depending on Alesi, we could see as many as 34. Now after practice and qualifications, will we have 33 cars in one piece? Maybe not, but I'm still confident we hit that magic 33 number.
Have a great weekend, get some rest before things really kick off next weekend, and work on getting those friends of yours out for a day at the track!