Monday, October 21, 2013

Silly Season Rundown

I've been keeping track of every name that has been floated out there for an Indycar ride next season. So here is the result: take a look at a silly season rundown with every driver whose name has been mentioned along side with Indycar as well as all the drivers from last year (sorted A-Z by last name) as well as my predictions at the end of the blog:


Jaime Alguersuari
Former F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari is looking elsewhere for a ride in racing. His eyes have panned to Indycar. Jaime, who was sacked from Toro Rosso in 2011, has been yearning to get back in the car. He is looking to test a DW12 in the recent future. Link to info via Autosport here.

Jaime Alguersuari - F1 Grand Prix of Brazil
Alguersuari in 2011 driving for Toro Rosso (Photo: Paul Gilham / Getty Images)

AJ Allmendinger
AJ signed a three year deal with NASCAR team JTG Daugherty. The third Penske seat that he occupied in 2013 on a part time basis now belongs to Juan Pablo Montoya on a full-time basis. Without a seat to come back to, it is difficult to predict if he'll attempt to do the double in May.


Marco Andretti
Marco Andretti stepped up and became took on the surprising role of team leader at Andretti Autosport. I have always been critical of Marco on and off the track, but damn, you got to give him props. He had a great season and will be back with Andretti Autosport in 2014.


Bertrand Baguette
Belgium native Bertand Baguette has not raced in Indycar since the 2011 Indianapolis 500, a race that he led, and has since moved onto endurance racing. It appears despite some rumors, Baguette won't be coming to Indycar anytime soon.

Bertrand Baguette - Honda Indy Edmonton
If there is one driver I would love to see get a full time drive in Indycar at some point
in the next decade, it's the talented Bertrand Baguette (Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images)

Rubens Barichello
Rubens appears to be done in Indycar for the foreseeable future. Despite a full season in 2012, Rubens did not return to Indycar in 2013. Rumors pegged Rubens going back to F1 in 2014, but those have been dispelled.. Despite not coming back in 2013, many thought he might make a go at the Indy 500 in May. Not to be. I don't see anything happening.


Ana Beatriz
Ana Beatriz raced in a couple races this season for Dale Coyne Racing in that circulating ride. With no knowledge of what Dale's intentions are for the second car, it remains to be seen if Ana will have a seat next year. Ana's average finish in 2013 was a dismal 20.1, which, in my honest opinion, does not merit a return to Indycar. I wouldn't be surprised if she did though.


Townsend Bell
No reason to believe Townsend won't be back at this year's Indy 500. TBell, who has run seven out of the last eight Indy 500's, should be a go again for the Greatest Spectacle. It's all a matter of which team he drives for. Townsend ran a great race in 2012 with a P9 effort, but not the best result in 2013 with a P27 result.


Sam Bird
Sam Bird, GP2 ace, is exploring his options for 2014, and one of those options is Indycar. Bird falls under the category of "I'm in GP2 but don't have enough of daddy's money to get into F1" group and is looking for other places to race. Check out the full article on Bird here via RACER.

Sam Bird - Formula One Young Drivers Testing in Abu Dhabi
Sam Bird testing the Merc during the 2011 Young Drivers Test (Photo: Andrew Hone / Getty Images)


Sebastien Bourdais
Sebastien Bourdais has finally gotten out of the Dragon Racing stables and has found himself a legitimate ride for 2014 and 2015 in KV Racing. Great to see. Let's hope he comes out and proves the hype that he has with him.


Ryan Briscoe
Ryan Briscoe has been signed by Panther Racing for the full 2014 campaign. Briscoe did not have a full time ride in 2013 but did still race in the series on a regular basis. Look for Briscoe to make a strong run in 2014. Only question is, who will the sponsor be? National Guard is leaving Panther and going to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, leaving Panther without their primary sponsor. Hopefully Briscoe does not get the shaft.


Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch completed rookie orientation at Indianapolis with Andretti Autosport. While rumors of him racing this season never gained traction, Kurt is interested in testing again at a fast oval, like Indy or Pocono. The goal is to race in the 2014 Indianapolis 500, likely with the fifth or sixth car for Andretti Autosport. A lot of things have to happen for it to work, like Kurt getting permission from future team owner Tony Stewart to run the race, as well as sponsorship money.


Ed Carpenter
I am sure Ed Carpenter has warranted a contract extension from team owner Ed Carpenter. Only way he loses this seat is if he retires.


Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves comes up short once again. Despite the fact that he'll be returning to Team Penske once again for 2014, Helio is running out of years to win the ever so elusive Indycar title.


Bryan Clauson
Bryan Clauson is one of the brightest talents out there. But since running the 2012 Indianapolis 500, Bryan has not been back in an Indycar. Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing wanted to run two cars last May, but nothing came together. Could Clauson come back in 2014 and run Indy again?

Bryan Clauson - Indianapolis 500 - Day 1
Bryan Clauson's only career race did not go to plan. Will 2014 be the year he
gets a second chance? (Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images)

Mike Conway
Mike Conway was one of the many race winners in 2013 despite not being in a full time ride. Conway first ran a one off with Rahal Letterman Lanigan at Long Beach, and then Dale Coyne Racing for the rest of the season at the doubleheaders. Conway won Detroit Race 1 in impressive fashion, showing the raw talent he has. What does 2014 look like? It remains to be seen if he'll return to the floating Coyne car if it returns.


Conor Daly
Daly ran the 2013 Indianapolis 500 with AJ Foyt Enterprises. Rumors floated around that Daly would drive a second car for Foyt at Houston, but a deal never came together. Despite having ambitions in Europe, a run at the 2014 Indy 500 has not ruled out for Daly.


James Davison
James made his Indycar debut in the 2013 season for Dale Coyne Racing. The questions that lingers over James's head is a) is Dale Coyne's second car returning? b) did Davison do enough to merit a call back for next year? c) does Davison have enough money to cover the expenses for a ride next season?


Simona de Silvestro
Despite having a very up and down year, Simona will likely return to KV Racing. She will have a new teammate next year, as former teammate Tony Kanaan, who outpaced her for the majority of the season, will be switching to Chip Ganassi Racing next year. She is, however, evaluating her options, so it isn't a done deal at KV.


Peter Dempsey
Irish Indy Lights driver Peter Dempsey has intentions on moving up to Indycar in 2014. Peter, the winner of the thrilling Freedom 100 in 2013, has contacted several teams about driving a DW12 next year. He has come out and stated that he is still talking to potential sponsors, but he would like to secure a test date before moving forward.


Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon, the 2003, 2008, and newly crowned 2013 Indycar Champion will return with Chip Ganassi in 2014. Biggest question is if he will move to #1 next season like Ryan Hunter-Reay did after winning the title in 2012.


Luca Filippi
Luca Filippi made his Indycar debut in 2013 for Bryan Herta Autopsort. I feel like Filippi did enough to merit a ride next year, especially after a solid weekend at Houston. Unfortunately, Filippi doesn't have oval experience. It should be down between him and Hildebrand for the 98 car.

Luca Filippi - Honda Indy 200 At Mid-Ohio - Day 1
Filippi ran his first Indycar race this season. Hopefully
it is the first of many for him (Photo: Getty Images)

Dario Franchitti
Dario is signed for the 2014 once again for Chip Ganassi Racing. The road to recovery will be a difficult one following a broken back, ankle, and a concussion sustained from the accident in Houston. I predict he comes back stronger than ever, but many are beginning to question if he's contemplated retiring from the sport. Dario has signed a deal for 2014, but I would not hold it against him if he did retire.


Mikael Grenier
One of those "WHO?!" drivers that you might hear more often is Mikael Grenier. The Canadian driver will test for KV Racing on November 13th and 14th. Grenier drove in Firestone Indy Lights in 2011 and 2013, with only six starts. I personally don't see him getting a ride, but stranger things have happened. Full story from auto123.com can be found here.


Jack Hawksworth
2012 Pro Mazda champion and 2013 Indy Lights participant Jack Hawksworth has drawn a large interest from Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. It is rumored that he has at least a part-time deal with a Honda powered team. My bet is RLL. With National Guard coming to RLL adding more sponsorship money to the squad, the team could expand to three cars on a regular basis. If that's the case, I could see Hawk taking the wheel. At minimum I see him doing some races with some Honda team.


JR Hildebrand
JR Hildebrand was sacked from Panther Racing (blessing in disguise) following his debacle at Indy, where he wrecked a couple laps into the race. But Bryan Herta Autosport stepped up and signed him on a part time basis at the end of the season. JR is the main competition for road course ace Luca Filippi for the seat.

J R Hildebrand - Indianapolis 500: Practice
Unbenounced to everyone, JR would race his last race in
the #4 car at the 2013 Indianapolis 500 (Photo: Michael Hickey)

James Hinchcliffe
James Hinchcliffe will be back with Andretti Autosport. With GoDaddy leaving Andretti Autosport, Hinch was set to be left without a primary sponsor for next season at AA. Thankfully, Michael Andretti came in and saved the day, switching from Chevy to Honda so Honda can make Hinch the face of their Indycar program. Honda Canada is going crazy. Good to have Hinch back.


Ryo Hirakawa
Ryo tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sonoma a couple weeks before the GoPro Grand Prix. Although a deal never materialized, Ryo may have been doing a shakedown to see if he is interested in running some Indycar races next season. I wouldn't be surprised to see him at at least two races next season.


Ryan Hunter-Reay
Ryan Hunter-Reay failed to defend his championship crown in 2013 after winning the title in 2012. A year marred by ups and downs saw Ryan winning two races but also six DNFs. A lack of luck persisted with Ryan all season. Nonetheless, he will be back with Andretti Autosport in 2014. The looming question with him is what number will he run? It won't be #1...


James Jakes
James Jakes is evaluating his options for next year, which really makes me scratch my head. This guy has options? Thanks Dad. Sure he's had a couple of good runs, but I personally don't see it. Right now, I see him driving for the vacated ride at Dragon Racing once occupied by Sebastien Bourdais. But really, he can pick any open seat that needs money. More on Jakes via RACER here.


Michel Jourdain Jr.
Jourdain should be back at Indianapolis (500) in 2014 to overcome an embarrassing performance at the 500 during qualifying. Jourdain was drastically off the pace and was the only car bumped from the 2013 field. But I'm not trying to slam Michel here, as his car was just shit. I hope he finds a ride in 2014. I don't think the bridge has been burned between him and his owner Bobby Rahal, so we may see him return to RLL in the team's third car.

Michel Jourdain - Indianapolis 500 - Practice
Jourdain, shown here in the 2012 Indianapolis 500, did not qualify for the 2013
 Indianapolis 500 for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Photo: Andy Lyons / Getty Images)


Sage Karam
The 2013 Indy Lights Champion should be making his way up to Indycar for at least a couple races. With limited seats available, I am not sure where. But a third car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at Indianapolis for the 500 would make sense. The most intriguing part of Sage? He's 18 years old. Sky is the limit.


Tony Kanaan
The 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan will be switching from KV Racing to the 4th seat at Chip Ganassi Racing. TK, who even explored his options in NASCAR, decided to sign with Chip Ganassi, with the official announcement being made at Houston.


Narain Karthikeyan
Former F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan is planning to test the DW12 in the offseason according to RACER. Karthikeyan tried to get a deal together for this season, but nothing came together, and Narain raced in the Auto GP Series in 2013. The RACER article can be found here.


Charlie Kimball
Charlie "Murphy" Kimball has a breakout year for the powerhouse Chip Ganassi Racing, who he has now driven for for three seasons. Kimball recorded a win at Mid-Ohio, and he also had many great runs at other tracks, like Barber and Pocono. He will be back with Ganassi for a fourth season.


Buddy Lazier
Buddy Lazier ran under Lazier Partners Racing in 2013 after a long absence from Indycar. Lazier was very adamant that their team would be back in 2014. The team did a fantastic job despite not having much time to get going or many days of practice. If Lazier had more time this go around, I feel like a better effort could be made.

Lazier got a deal together for the 2013 Indianapolis 500 (Photo: Jim Haines / Indycar Media)

Jaques Lazier
Jauqes Lazier had his name thrown around a lot of times leading up to the 2013 Indianapolis 500. Not only for the Indy 500, but for a full Indycar season. His brother Buddy ran in the 2013 500, but Jaques watched from the sidelines. Not too sure if he'll get his fulltime wish, but if Lazier Racing Partners starts up again in May, I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the 500 in 2014 alongside his brother.


Katherine Legge
Katherine Legge came into Indianapolis in the final hour and qualified for Schmidt Peterson Racing. Despite not getting any time Legge put the car in the show, but had issues in the race. She has been running ALMS this season, but could a return to Indycar be in the cards next year? I say no, but don't count her out of the Indy 500 again.

Katherine Legge - GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma - Day 1
Legge was fired by Dragon Racing in early 2013 before the season started. A return
to multiple races in 2014 does not seem likely (Photo: Todd Warshaw / Getty Images)

Lucas Luhr
Despite giving Indycar a shot, it appears that Pickett Muscle Milk Racing is set on returning to sports cars next year despite the loss of their P1 class. Lucas Luhr raced for his ALMS team in a joint effort with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing at Sonoma, but with PMMR going to sports car, Luhr will likely follow, and thus eliminating his chance at running Indycar next year.


Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Arie Luyendyk Jr, Bachelorette fenom, former Indy Lights driver, and son of legend Arie Luyendyk, has been adamant that he wants to race in the 2014 Indianapolis 500. With no testing of the DW12 under his belt, and no starts in Indycar, it remains to be seen if he is all talk or if he actually has something put together for next year.


Pippa Mann
Pippa Mann returned to Indycar after a full years absence from 2012. She made her DW12 debut at Indianapolis for the 500. She also raced at Texas, Pocono, and Fontana. Dale Coyne and Pippa Mann have formed a solid relationship, and with continual support from Cyclops Gear, we should see Pippa back in 2014. But without a test on a road course in the offseason, Pippa will once again be limited to ovals.


Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa has been let go from Ferrari in F1 after a long tenure beginning in 2006. Massa's options are rather large. He can return to F1 with a less formidable team. He can go to Brazilian Stock Cars. Or he could go to Indycar. First step is a test, second step is affiliating himself with a team. Which Indycar teams would be interested in his services and does he have the sponsorship money to go a full season / part time schedule? I try to see the bright side but I see him returning to F1.


Juan Pablo Montoya
In a move that shocked the paddocks everywhere, Juan Pablo Montoya has signed with Team Penske to race the #2 car full time in 2014. This was after we learned that Montoya turned down the opportunity to drive for Andretti Autosport in 2014. Let's see what the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner and the 1999 CART Champion can do.


Carlos Munoz
Carlos Munoz will be making the jump to Indycar in 2014 with Andretti Autosport (speculation). The standout rookie at the 2013 Indianapolis 500 and great Indy Lights driver will likely replace EJ Viso or move up to a fifth car for Michael Andretti. I am very happy to see him get a chance.


Carlos Munoz - Indianapolis 500
Not a bad first start Munoz, finishing P2 behind Tony Kanaan
at the 2013 Indianapolis 500 (Photo: Jonathan Ferry / Getty Images)

Josef Newgarden
Josef Newgarden has been confirmed to return to the Indianapolis based Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing for the third consecutive season. Newgarden had a much better season following an unsuccessful and and very unlucky rookie campaign. It'll be interesting to see if Josef leaves after 2014.


Simon Pagenaud
Simon Pagenaud is coming off a career year with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, having a terrific season, winning two races and being in contention for the title all season, whici is a great accomplishment. He will be back with SPM next season with Tristan Vautier, but with new sponsors, as HP is leaving the sport.


Will Power
Will Power comes off a sluggish year by his standards, having many poor race day performances throughout the year. It was an especially slow start to the season, and he could never recover. He didn't record his first win until Sonoma, and also picked up another win at Houston and Fontana. He will be back in 2014 with Team Penske, and hopefully, he bounces back into championship form.


Graham Rahal
Despite Graham's very troubling season, he will be back for his father's team next season. Graham had nice performances at Long Beach and Iowa, but other than that, it was a very tough season. He will have new sponsorship next year in the form of National Guard.


Luiz Razia
Luis Razia, who has lost traction in obtaining a Formula 1 ride, has begun to explore other options, including Indycar. Razia, a veteran of GP2 driver, finished P2 in the championship in 2012, but no Formula 1 ride came together. With hope being lost, Razia may come across the pond and try his hand in Indycar. More info via Motor Sports Talk here.

Luiz Razia - F1 Young Driver Tests - Abu Dhabi
Razia participating in the F1 Young Drivers Test for Toro Rosso
at Yas Marina in 2012 (Photo: Andrew Hone / Getty Images)

Buddy Rice
Buddy Rice was pipped to get rides for the 2013 Indianapolis 500. But as time went on, Buddy became more skeptical. He did not want a situation where he'd have one day to practice and then qualifying. Buddy most likely kept his sponsorship money in his pocket and will play his hand in 2014 when he has a better opportunity.


Sebastian Saavedra
Sebastian Saavedra replaced Katherine Legge in the offseason, which led to a lot of controversy before he even took the track. Combine this with a very poor year, and things generally don't go well. Given sponsors return, I do expect Sebastian to be back in the seat next season. If he doesn't show some signs of life in 2014, I don't know how he can have a ride Indycar, possibly for the rest of his career.


Takuma Sato
Takuma Sato brought home his first win in his Indycar career in 2013 at Long Beach. He was even leading the Championship at one point! Then the middle of the season happened and things went oh so wrong. Despite this poor finish to the season, AJ Foyt is working hard to bring the driver back for the 2014 season.


Tomas Scheckter
Tomas Scheckter was a silent party in May. According to some, he had a deal to race in the 2013 Indy 500 in the works but it fell through and a deal was not reached. I honestly feel as if Scheckter's Indycar days are over. I will keep the same mindset until I hear otherwise.

Tomas Scheckter - Suntrust Indy Challenge Practice and Qualifying
Scheckter, pictured here in 2009, has not been in Indycar since
Indycar raced at Las Vegas (Photo: Darrell Ingham / Getty Images)

Bruno Senna
Bruno Senna's F1 days are over following the 2012 season. He raced in FIA World Endurance in 2013, but he is exploring his options in America, including NASCAR, Indycar, and USCC. His uncle, Ayrton Senna, tested an Indycar, but never raced. I feel like Bruno would make a great addition to Indycar, but it's a long shot.


Oriol Servia
Oriol Servia began the season with Panther Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. After they closed up shop following Indianapolis, Oriol was in the familiar position of not having a ride during the season. After JR Hildebrand was fired by Panther Racing, Oriol began to share time in the National Guard car with Ryan Briscoe. Ryan Briscoe has been nabbed as the driver for Panther in 2014, but Panther may be working on getting an additional car for Oriol. Although they lost National Guard and would need more sponsorship money, I would not rule it out. KV is now out of the question unless by some miracle Simona leaves. His best choice is Rahal Letterman Lanigan assuming they let Jakes go and have the sponsorship for a second car.


Alex Tagliani
2011 Indy 500 Pole Winner Alex Tagliani had a rough year. Nothing went his way this season, and he was fired by Bryan Herta Autosport before Mid-Ohio. I don't see a full time ride in Tagliani's future, but a part time schedule is not off the table. Tagliani was selected to replace Dario Franchitti for Fontana following Dario's accident at Houston left the car without a driver. Tags best shot is to be a veteran teammate somewhere, maybe at RLL or a longshot second car at Sarah Fisher Hartman.


Tristan Vautier
Despite having a rookie season filled with struggles, Tristan Vautier will be back with Schmidt Peterson Racing in 2014. The 2011 Pro Mazda Champion and 2012 Indy Lights Champion clearly has the talent to succeed, but things need just need to come together for him in Indycar.

Tristan Vautier - Honda Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg - Day 2
A year with many downs saw a bright spot at St. Petersburg for
the young Tristan Vautier (Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images)

EJ Viso
EJ Viso ran his first season with Andretti Autosport in 2013. With some up and down races, EJ looks poised to return to the squad in 2014 barring Andretti and Viso parting ways. Viso is close to securing the sponsorship required for the 2014 campaign. With Fontana looming over his head, I am not sure what we can expect in the next couple of weeks. Viso may be in legal trouble though...


Justin Wilson
Justin Wilson once again proved his top tier status by balling out with Dale Coyne Racing in 2013. Despite all these great performances, circumstances appear to have JW returning to DCR next year, even though he should be with Penske or Ganassi. Hopefully he recovers quickly following his crash at Fontana.


Stefan Wilson
Stefan Wilson raced his first Indycar race of his career in 2013 with Dale Coyne Racing. Despite struggling at Baltimore, Stefan gained valuable experience. Will he get another opportunity in 2014? Sounds like he wants to go Indy 500 or bust maybe with ECR, SFHR, or Dale Coyne Racing. More on that here via RACER.



So, having said all of that, here is rundown of next year's full time entry list. Drivers shaded in aqua have been confirmed for next season; the others are educated guesses on my part which will most likely end up being wrong. If you get ridicule me in a serious manner, I'll just laugh. There's an inner expert in all of us, these are just my guesses:

#TBA Ryan Hunter-Reay / Andretti Autosport 
#TBA Sebastien Bourdais / KV Racing
#TBA Scott Dixon / Chip Ganassi Racing
#2 Juan Pablo Montoya / Team Penske
#3 Helio Castroneves / Team Penske
#4 Ryan Briscoe / Panther Racing
#5 EJ Viso / Andretti Autosport
#6 Sebastian Saavedra / Dragon Racing
#7 James Jakes / Dragon Racing
#10 Dario Franchitti / Chip Ganassi Racing
#11 Tony Kanaan / Chip Ganassi Racing
#12 Will Power / Team Penske
#14 Takuma Sato / AJ Foyt Enterprises
#15 Graham Rahal / Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
#16 Oriol Servia / Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
#17 Jack Hawksworth / Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
#18 *Floating Seat* / Dale Coyne Racing
#19 Justin Wilson / Dale Coyne Racing
#20 Ed Carpenter / Ed Carpenter Racing
#25 Marco Andretti / Andretti Autosport
#26 Carlos Munoz / Andretti Autosport
#27 James Hinchcliffe / Andretti Autosport
#55 Trisan Vautier / Schmidt Peterson Racing
#67 Josef Newgarden / Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing
#77 Simon Pagenaud / Schmidt Peterson Racing
#78 Simona de Silvestro / KV Racing
#83 Charlie Kimball / Chip Ganassi Racing
#98 Luca Filippi / Barracuda Racing


Give or take a couple, we could be looking at a field of 25+ full time entries. Now for the Indianapolis 500, some teams we expect to see field cars to add to the full time cars: Panther Racing, Schmidt Peterson Racing, Lazier Racing Partners, Andretti Autosport, Ed Carpenter Racing, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, AJ Foyt Enterprises, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, Barracuda Racing, 8Star Racing, and some other random deals. It looks like we will have more than 33 cars for the Indy 500 this year, but at this point, it is just speculation.

Lot of info to process. Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

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