All signs point to Alex Tagliani being out at Bryan Herta Autosport. Even though the entry list for Mid-Ohio hasn’t been released yet, looks for Luca Filippi in the #98 Barracuda Networks ride. Tag started the season with a 10th at St. Pete and 11th at Barber, but has only managed one Top Ten finish over the balance of the season. Over a seven race stretch from Indianapolis to Pocono, Tag’s best finish was 17th at Pocono. Filippi is the 2005 Italian Formula 3000 Champion, as well as finishing 2nd in the 2010 GP2 Asia, 2nd in 2011 GP2 (only behind Romain Grosjean) and 2nd in 2011 Auto GP. It is rumored that Filippi is to share the seat for the rest of the season with 2011 Rookie of the Year J.R. Hildebrand.
Sarah Fisher/Hartman Racing has announced they plan to field a second car for Pickett Racing’s Lucas Luhr at Sonoma. Luhr currently drives the Muscle Milk Honda LMP1 Class, leading the class in points as well as being the defending Series Champion. There has been much discussion of Pickett Racing making the change to the IndyCar Series next season, and seems to be using this race as an audition.
Chip Ganassi is looking to return to a four car operation in 2014 with assistance from NTT Data. If you remember, this was Ryan Briscoe’s sponsor for the Indianapolis 500 this year. With briscoe all but a done deal with Panther for 2014, speculation has turned towards names like James Hinchcliffe, Tony Kanaan, Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger to fill the seat. My gut feeling tells me that Wilson is probably the leading name, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chipster go off the board and select a name that hasn’t been mentioned.
Speaking of Hinch, he’s in a contract year at Andretti. Even though he’s been connected to the Ganassi ride, I don’t see him leaving Andretti as long as GoDaddy remains as a sponsor. He’s won three races this season at Andretti and seems to have good chemistry with the team. As long as Andretti continues to field competitive cars, I don’t see a valid reason why Hinch should leave.
Look for Sebastien Bourdais to continue with Dragon Racing. The team has really made strides over the past two seasons to be more competitive. The engineering switch for Bourdais has made a huge difference. The team was badly thrown off by the new tire compound, but seems to have recovered and is making serious headway. Dragon Racing looks to retain both drivers for 2014.
Panther Racing is a strange situation. They have brought up the idea of being a two car team again, but they have also floated the possibility of going racing in the newly formed USCR organization. Panther’s throwing all this around while staring down the barrel of their main sponsor, National Guard, rolling back their funding a bit. The first thing Panther needs to do is get their current program on the right track. What do Vitor Meira, Dan Wheldon and J.R. Hildebrand all have in common? Ask John Barnes, but more than likely it’s none of your damn business.
John Dagys reports there are several ALMS teams looking at starting IndyCar teams for 2014. I’d dare say it’s probably all the LMP1 teams since USCR plans to phase out the class under new regulations. As I said earlier, it looks like Pickett is testing the waters with Sarah Fisher. The folks at Dyson have also said there’s no way they’re doing Daytona Prototype racing. I haven’t heard anything from the people at Rebellion, but Audi has thrown around the idea of joining the new series. There’s also been rumor of Audi going IndyCar racing as well, but that’s not in the cards for 2014. Delta Wing has been included in USCR regs. Basically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pickett, Dyson and Rebellion as part of the 2014 IndyCar grid.
Anybody seen “Turbo” yet? Most of the reviews say it’s pretty good, but nothing stellar. What’s your take?
INDYCAR (all caps because i’m talking sanctioning body here) has made the call to mandate dual turbos for 2014. It looked like Honda was moving that direction anyway, so it’s not really a big deal. There is still plenty of area for engine competition. Who can make a more reliable engine with higher torque? Torque is really key in IndyCar right now.
I can also say that with the early season success of Andretti Autosport, most teams are probably going to ramp up their mechanical grip programs in the offeason. Whereas everyone else looked at aero grip, Andretti spent time on shocks and dampers. Looks like they hit a home run!
A little on Indy Lights… Looks like the grid should significantly expand in 2014. People like Dan Anderson. They also know he’s going to make the wholesale changes the series needs to not only survive, but thrive. I’d bank on a new tire for the series (Cooper, perhaps?) and possibly engine badging too. Anderson has already said he’s looking for an engine that doesn’t require rebuilds, as opposed to the three rebuild per season of the current engine. the future is looking bright for Lights.
Hope you all enjoyed this update on some news bits from around IndyCar. Make sure to tune into the Mid-Ohio race this weekend. I have a sneaking suspicion that Scott Dixon is going to win, but we have the races to find out for sure. I look forward to your feedback.