Sunday, October 14, 2007

Silly Season update (Oct. 14)

Not many updates, but I wanted to keep this out there.

2008 lineup
Andretti Green Racing (4)
7-Danica Patrick (Motorola, 3rd-year FT driver, 1st year with AGR). Under contract through 2009.
11-Tony Kanaan (7-11, 5th year FT driver, all with AGR, 2004 champ). Under contract through 2008.
26-Marco Andretti (NYSE Group, 2nd year FT driver, all with AGR). Staying with AGR.
27-TBA ... The ride Dario Franchitti is vacating. possible drivers Jaime Camara (AGR IPS driver), Tomas Scheckter (free agent). According to Curt Cavin (Sept. 10), the short list also possibly includes Darren Manning and possibly Alex Lloyd. One might expect Justin Wilson to be a candidate for this job, as well, as he appars to be leaving Champ Car along with sponsor CDW and looking at either ALMS or the IRL.

Team Penske (2)
3-Helio Castroneves (Team Penske, 6th-year FT driver, all with Penske, 2-time I500 champ). Under contract to Penske through 2008.
6-TBA. Likely to be either a return of Sam Hornish Jr. (Team Penske, 8th-year FT driver, 4th with Penske, 3x ICS champ). or Ryan Briscoe (Penske ALMS driver).
**Hornish is 0-for-4 in NASCAR qualifying, and has said if he doesn't qualify for any races, it would be difficult to come back. However, Curt Cavin & others say Penske officials are still optimistic about Sam, and all signs still point to him being in NASCAR in 2008, with a possible Indy one-off in the equation. Tim Cindric has been quoted as saying Briscoe is the frontrunner to replace Hornish. Briscoe finished fifth in the Indy 500 this year for Penske satellite Luczo Dragon Racing.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing (2)
9-Scott Dixon (Target, 5th-year FT driver, all with TCGR, 2003 champ). Under contract for 2008.
10-Dan Wheldon (Target, 5th-year FT driver, 2nd with TCGR, 2005 champ). Under contract through 2008. There are whispers that Wheldon might be jumping teams, upset that Chip Ganassi would keep him in the IRL but hire Dario Franchitti for a NASCAR job. Wheldon has been eyeballing NASCAR.
Possible 3rd entry ??-Alex Lloyd??: A lot of directions could go with this one. Lloyd has said a lot that he's working something out and will be in the ICS next year with a frontrunner team. Lloyd drove Ganassi's Grand Am car at Infineon and tested a TCGR IndyCar at Sebring a couple of weeks before.

Rahal Letterman Racing (2)
8-Scott Sharp (Patron, 12th-year FT driver, 1st with RLR, 1996 champ). Announced during the week of Oct. 7 that he is confirmed to return for 2008, "at least."
17-Ryan Hunter-Reay (Ethanol, rookie, former CC driver). Mid-season replacement was the IndyCar Rookie of the Year. Looks to be
**Sept. 8 update: RHR would like to be back in the IRL next year. Ethanol car requires an American driver, and Rahal seems happy with him.**

Panther Racing (2)
4-Vitor Meira (Delphi, 6th-year FT driver, 2nd with Panther). Confirmed for 2008, according to comments on a radio show the week of Oct. 7.
55-Hideki Mutoh (Panasonic, 1st-year FT driver). Mutoh had a nice run in the final season race, and the Super Aguri ride has always been reserved for a Japanese driver. Kosuke Matsuura said at Chicago that he isn't sure what he's doing this year, and Mutoh's one-off with Panther at Chicago seems to indicate he'll be in this car next year.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (1-2)
15-Buddy Rice (RollCoater, 6th-year FT driver, 1st with D&R). Has had a lot of success this season, given the fact that D&R generally has struggled.

Vision Racing (1-3)
20-Ed Carpenter (Hitachi Power Tools, 4th-year FT driver, 3rd with Vision). Confirmed for 2008. The only confirmed Vision car for 2008.
The other two cars are unconfirmed ...
TBA: 2-Tomas Scheckter (Joost, 6th-year FT driver, 2nd with Vision). Has been mentioned in connection with the open AGR ride, and TG has turned him loose in case Vision goes to two or one cars.
TBA: 22-A.J. Foyt IV (Indy Vision, 4th-year FT driver, 1st with Vision). Free agent until funding can be found. Again, has been turned loose by TG.
**Sept. 8 update: Scheckter rumored to be talking with AGR about the 27 car. Both Scheckter and Foyt said they don't know what their plans are for 2008.**

A.J. Foyt Racing (1)
14-Darren Manning (ABC Supply, 3rd-year FT driver). Contract extended through 2008.
**Foyt is exploring the option of adding a second car, pending funding.**

**Part-Time or New Entries**
SAMAX Racing (1)
23-Milka Duno (Citgo - rookie). Duno will be invited back only if she satisfactorily completes off-season testing. Spent the last half of the season on probation.There is the possibility of SAMAX fielding a second car for Tomas Enge (or someone else) or not coming back.

Roth Racing (2)
25-Marty Roth: Plans to run 2 full-time cars next year.
76-P.J. Chesson: Would like to stay with Roth if things go well, according to comments at Chicago.
**Roth Racing is planning to run the full 2008 schedule as a two-car team, according to a team press release.**

Racing Professionals (1)
Jon Herb: As for the future, it's probably part-time at best.

Beck Racing (1)
TBA: Although Beck ran some early-season events, the Beck machine hasn't been seen since Indy. Beck has said he'd like to be back in the IndyCar game, and his comments at the TEAM announcement seemed to indicate that is possible.

Fernandez Racing (1-2?)
From Curt Cavin's blog (8/8/2007), Adrian Fernandez's team still has its IndyCar equipment and Tom Anderson is apparently interested in a return to the IRL, but things "haven't been worked out." Sept. 8: Cavin said funding isn't there yet for this team, but it would like to get back in. Cavin says on Aug. 13 that he knows of two individuals to keep an eye on for new 2008 teams, but hasn't seen any sign of $$ backing them. An Indy 500 one-off is likely, at the very least, if not the full season.

Sarah Fisher Racing (1)
TBA: Sarah Fisher (AAMCO, 6th FT season, 2nd with D&R). Has sponsorships from AAMCO and AAA. But Fisher has said she has a lot of options for 2008, and all signs are pointing at the fact that they don't involve running at D&R. She was also quoted as saying D&R is going down to one car next year. Robin Miller threw out the possibility of Fisher owning her own team next year.

Kingdom Racing announced its plans to field a team for 2008 on Aug. 16. Led by Houston businessman George Del Canto, the team plans to be based on a Christian philosophy, with several pastors and Christian leaders on the board of directors. They've been announcing new partnerships as recent as Sept. 28, when evangelical leader Patrick Morley came on board.

PDM Racing would like to run a partial season of ovals in 2008 and become full-time in 2009. It would be more than good to see this longtime program back in the ICS full-time.

Unlikely for next year, but for the more distant future?
Cheever Racing
... the Aug. 28 IRL press release quotes Eddie's nephew Richard Antinucci as looking to get into the ICS (and get the team back into the ICS) long-term, if, of course, the $$ comes together.

2009 schedule news
The 2009 schedule may expand to 20 races, according to IRL brass. Michigan has already been mentioned as a possible re-addition to the schedule, in a Detroit News story. Expect Barber Motorsports Park to get a look, given positive comments after the IRL's test Oct. 12, and owner George Barber saying he'd like to have an IRL race there in the future. The upcoming Rusty Wallace-designed oval track in Sacramento is also an option for the more distant future.

Confirmed for 2009: Indianapolis (signed forever), Texas (signed through 2009), Iowa (signed through 2009), Milwaukee (signed through 2009), Detroit (signed through 2011).

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