Even if we’re just looking at folks with experience in the DW12, it’s quite a list. Excluding Simona de Silvestro, EJ Viso, Jean Alesi, and AJ Allmendinger, who are either done or seem as if they’ll be elsewhere come May, here’s the list:
Of course, some of these drivers might be pretty long shots to return back to the Indy 500, but I suppose you never know—I didn’t expect to see Jacques Villeneuve again, after all. Still, even discounting the unlikely returnees, what’s left is a pretty intriguing list. There’s at least a few of these drivers that appear to be sniffing around with some funding for May, and we might see a few (such as James Jakes) full-time when all is said and done.
|Who will join the Indy field for 2014?|
(Courtesy IndyCar Media. Image by Forrest Mellott).
Conor Daly would be an intriguing one—he clearly has talent, but had some bad moments last May in his rookie outing (he's also mentioned elsewhere he thinks he'll have something for Indy). There are fan favorites like Pippa Mann, who’d be going for her third overall Indy try, and ciphers such as Tristan Vautier, who had a rough rookie season, but was +12 on positions moved up at the 500.
Of course, you don’t need a driver with ample DW12 experience to finish strong at Indy; AJ Allmendinger showed that in his rookie foray last season. But assume budgets can be put together, there’s a pretty wide variety of drivers out there with at least one DW12 Indy 500 under their belt that will be looking for a place to land this May. It’s hard for a any driver to pull an Al Unser, Sr. or Dan Wheldon and win as a one-off or part-timer, but part of the magic of the 500 is that it has and can happen.
(Update: Even though his last 500 was 2011, I'd be remiss in not mentioning this bit of speculation on Paul Tracy. Interesting to consider!).