Here is the rundown on driver changes/additions since Sao Paulo:
Alex Lloyd will again be in the Boy Scout car for Dale Coyne Racing for St. Petersburg. While the team has sent out press releases about their involvement with the Scouts at racing events throughout the season, we have yet to see from the team an official announcement that the #19 car is a full season effort with Alex Lloyd as its driver. Before Sao Paulo they indicated that there would be more news to come in the lead up to St. Petersburg, but the press release we saw from the team this week did not speak in specifics about the number of races the car would be entered in. That said, I am a big fan of what Dale Coyne is doing with the Scouts.
Ana Beatriz was a one off for Dreyer & Reinbold at Sao Paulo. There has been talk that she might be in for Indy and maybe a couple other ovals, but at this time nothing has been confirmed.
Adding in to the mix this week is Graham Rahal for Sarah Fisher Racing. Graham will also be piloting the SFR #67 at Barber. After that, it sounds like he is on his way back to Newman Haas Lanigan. However, the reporter who broke this story is also the one who was telling us that Graham would be driving at Ganassi the rest of the year. Some of the scuttlebut indicates that we may hear an announcement this weekend regarding Graham’s future, but I tend to think this would be bad form to upstage the great story that SFR and Dollar General want to tell us this weekend.
Conquest has confirmed their late entry into the IndyCar season starting at Barber. Belgian driver Bertrand Baugette will be shoe for the remaining 15 races of the season after St. Pete. Bertrand has bounced around the European ladders competing in things such as Formula Renault 3.5, Superleague Formula and the FIA GT Championship. Superleague is where Sebastian Bourdais spent his time last year running those wacky Footie team cars with monster V12’s in them. Anyway, Bertrand’s name has been mentioned several times this offseason in conjunction with lower tier F1 team driver roles and test driver roles.
We are still waiting to hear more news on Ryan Hunter-Reay’s program for the year. We are also waiting to hear more from Team 3G which keeps rumoring that they will run Richard Antinucci, but as of yet that program has not come together. At this point I think we can count on them for Indy, but I wonder if they will get off the ground for multiple races this year. The sourced rumors have said that they were to start this weekend at St. Pete and finish out the season, but that clearly has not come to pass.
As for Indy, Curt Cavin put out an article recently stating that we could have a bumper crop at 16th and Georgetown this year. As of right now, there are 29 confirmed car driver combinations for the May classic, with heavily sourced rumors bringing that number up to 33. On top of that, Curt mentioned several teams who will most likely be adding cars to the affair. I looks like 33 is far from being in jeopardy this year. That said, the idea of 45 cars does seem a little far fetched this year. In the past, the second week of quals was used to prepare spare cars for late entries. That time will most likely be spent in preparation for the primary cars to qualify. There may be less cars than we hoped, but I suspect it will fall somewhere between 36-39 cars attempting to qualify.
Anyway, here is our most recent driver list for the season. We will continue to update this as things change throughout the season and particularly in the lead up to May.