Going into the day, we knew that KV racing had scheduled a press conference. We also pretty much knew exactly what they would talk about since Robin Miller told us he was sworn to secrecy about it on Wind Tunnel last Sunday, and then proceeded to act like he wasn’t leaking it. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that KV had put together enough hamburgers and hot dogs to lure Paul Tracy out of his Forsythe induced retirement. Jimmy Vasser (part owner of KV racing with Kevin Kalkhoven) made their intentions clear well before the season started that they were working on a deal for Paul, but said their best shot was for Indy and onward from there.
The press conference this afternoon indeed confirmed that Paul would be driving for KV at the 500 with Geico sponsorship. Further, Paul announced his intention to add to that with at least the Canadian races, but only the 500 was confirmed at this time.
Also today, Davey Hamilton announced that he would be again driving a car for Kindgom Racing with HP sponsorship. The car will be prepared by Dryer & Reinbold. Again, this is no big shock. Davey announced he would be at Indy, but had not finalized who would be preparing the car.
And then of course, there is the little deal about Will Power and Helio Castroneves. Will Power will no longer drive the #3 car, but will contest for Penske in the #12 Verizon sponsored car at Long Beach this weekend and Indy. As for now, those are the only two races that he is confirmed for. It is interesting to not that power put up quick time in the final practice session on Friday. At this point, his only hope for driving more than three races this season may be to get some podium action this weekend and at Indy.
So here is our updated Indy 500 list. The official 500 entry list has not yet been published by IMS, but we should be seeing it next week. But then again, we were told to expect it this past week, so who knows.
Ganassi – Scott Dixon
Ganassi – Dario Franchitti
Penske – Helio Castroneves
Penske – Ryan Briscoe
Penske – Will Power
Andretti Green – Tony Kanaan
Andretti Green – Danica Patrick
Andretti Green – Marco Andretti
Andretti Green – Hidekeh Mutoh
KV – Mario Moraes
KV – Paul Tracey
Newman Haas Lanigan – Graham Rahal
Newman Haas Lanigan – Robert Doornbos
Panther – Dan Wheldon
Panther – Scott Sharp
Foyt – Vitor Miera
Foyt – A.J. Foyt IV
Vision – Ed Carpenter
Vision – Ryan Hunter-Reay
Dreyer & Reinbold – Mike Conway
Dreyer & Reinbold / Richard Petty Motorsports – John Andretti
Dreyer & Reinbold / Kingdom Racing – Davey Hamilton
HVM – E.J. Viso
Coyne – Justin Wilson
Conquest – Alex Tagliani
Luczo Dragon – Raphael Matos
Team 3G – Stanton Barret
Sam Schmidt/Ganassi – Alex Lloyd
Sarah Fisher – Sarah Fisher
Here are some of the changes from the last list.
Rubicon has dissolved as a racing team and now style themselves as Rubicon Sports Agency. They have partnered with Conquest racing in an effort to make sure that they have at least a single full time car this year, but also possibly add a second car. Currently, Buddy Rice is not in their plans. Rubicon has been an interesting deal from the start since it was a merger of a failed attempt for the 500 last year being partly owned by failed Pro Series driver and actor Jason Priestly and another failed team, Pacific Coast Motorsports who attempted to run a full season last year, but didn’t have the cash. Now that the two failed teams have joined together, they failed yet again to field a car and have put their time into being an ‘agency’. We will see what the result of this new venture is, but I wouldn’t invest much money in their future.
Also, Tomas Scheckter was expected to be running Long Beach and onward with Team 3G, but unfortunately the deal was never finalized. Tomas is shopping around some sponsorship from Rockstar Energy Drink, but has not been able to convince Rockstar to pull the trigger with 3G. Speculation for Curt Cavin at the Indy Star suggests that Rockstar is being careful not to sign with a team that ran so very poorly at Long Beach. Clearly Stanton Barret is this years Marty Roth at this point in the season, but Stanton has some upside in that he has made money at driving racing sleds in the down south series, so he at least has some talent and will probably get better throughout the season, but that cannot keep him from maintaining ‘moving chicane’ status for now.
All said though, we are sitting at 29 confirmed entries for the 500 this year with the strong possibility of a 4th from D&R bringing us to a comfortable 30. It is easy to see that the 500 will easily exceed 33 this year.