Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What’s Left? IndyCar Silly Season Update

While Tristan Vautier’s signing with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was extremely welcome news yesterday (go Mazda Road to Indy grads!), it does bring up the question of just where we are in terms of remaining seat vacancies for the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season. Let’s take a quick look at the major remaining possibilities for the season to come:

Full-Time Seats

4th Andretti: If Andretti does run a 4th car full-time this season, it very well could be E.J. Viso. However, prior reports from other sources that Viso was signed with the team were premature, and nothing has been confirmed as of yet. Still, Viso seems the most likely fit for this team. F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan made overtures to the team, but it doesn’t sound as if the budget would necessarily be in place to make it happen.

1st & 2nd Coyne: Well, we all know Coyne’s M.O. by now--waiting. I would still expect Justin Wilson here, but Coyne has yet to finalize that, and we can probably expect late resolution once more on this deal. For the 2nd Coyne car, we can only assume we receive our answer at the very last moment, but it looks doubtful James Jakes will be back in this seat. If you’re looking for the remaining seat(s) that is the biggest crapshoot, it would be right here. Let’s not forget Mikhail Aleshin, who has been sniffing around for an IndyCar ride. We might as well throw Karthikeyan as a possibility in here as well, because he’d have to go somewhere.

2nd Dragon: With Sam Schmidt getting the Vautier deal finally put together, this remains perhaps Ryan Briscoe’s best shot at a full-time ride. It sounds as if Katherine Legge could be farmed out to HVM as an option instead of occupying this seat.

HVM Racing: As explained above, Legge may well be sent over to HVM to fulfill the terms of her 2013 employment. Right now, it would seem that would be HVM’s best bet at getting an engine deal and being a full-time participant this year. There were a lot of Viso/HVM rumors towards the end of last year, but that would appear to have cooled off. James Jakes has also been mentioned here, but there’s still the entire engine business to consider which makes the farm-out scenario perhaps slightly more realistic. It's most likely we see Jakes or Legge here for the year.

As you can see above, the pickings are getting pretty slim for our remaining crop of drivers. For those who don’t figure into a full-time seat, let’s take a look at some of the part-time ride that might not be available.

Notable Part-Time Seats

AFS Racing: AFS is again looking at a partial sort of season with Sebastian Saavedra, but it sounds as if the team has some financial obligations to meet before that happens.

2nd Foyt: As Robin Miller reported, Conor Daly, Alex Lloyd, and Bertrand Baguette have all been mentioned in conjunction with this seat, with possibly a different driver for Indianapolis versus a couple of one-offs at another point on the schedule. Daly did tweet yesterday about his desire to run the Indy 500 this year, for those curious about his interest level.

3rd Penske: This is an odd one, since it’s almost certainly part-time (4 races is the number thrown around). No one seems to know anything about it, and I'm no different. Truly, the ways of Penske are mysterious.

2nd Rahal Letterman Lanigan: We know we’ll see Rahal’s second machine with Mike Conway at Long Beach, and there’s a to-be-announced driver for Indy we’ll have to wait on. This seat should be a rotating one, so expect several of the drivers in the mix--Lloyd, Baguette, or possibly 1-2 of their other formerly affiliated drivers.

Michael Shank Racing: Last year’s would-be driver for Indy, Jay Howard has been very quiet as of late. Shank’s been working towards some manner of alliance with an existing IndyCar team, and there’s at least a chance we’ll see the #60 DW12 at Indianapolis this season. Folks keep wanting to place A.J. Allmendinger in this ride, but I’d put the odds of that particular pairing happening as pretty slim right now, if I had to wager.

That’s pretty much it for now. Oh, there will be some additional entries for Indianapolis and the like, but if you’re talking anything for a good chunk of the season, that’s what left. The hour grows late, but not so late that deal there’s no time for a shock or two. We’ll see what surprises lie in store between now and St. Petersburg.

1 comment:

  1. Ken @AbuelosDeTreceJanuary 31, 2013 at 6:58 AM

    It will be soooo nice to have silly season over and have the racing begin. Let's not forget what Yogi said... "It ain't over 'til it's over", and remember that Tony Kaanan got his start with KV with only a week to go before the first race. And let's not forget those that have not been mentioned yet that we all hope end up driving somewhere... Pippa Mann, Esteban Guerrerri (sp), Thomas Sheckter, etc. But the good news is that we're only 51 days away from the start of the 2013 Indycar season! Which is about 100 days better than when this silly season began. Really hope that EJ and Ryan Briscoe both end up with full time rides as you mentioned.