Monday, April 20, 2009

Breaking Down the Indy 500 Entry List

Firstly; we just wanted to note that you guys may have noticed that Ron Furious hasn't posted since he left our March Madness live-blogging to go welcome a new baby to his family. Well Ron's been gone so long because he's been spending all his time either at work or at the hospital as their had been some initial complications. But we're happy to report that just short of a month old now, new Baby Furious (Alana) has finally been able to go home and is doing well. Best wishes to the Furious family and looking forward to seeing Ron back on here soon enough.

So the Indianapolis 500 Entry list came out today; and unlike the most recent 500s, it contains quite a few surprises & mysteries. Even a Brewers fan could see that it is a vast pot of improvement and uncertainty as we currently look at 40 entries among 77 cars.

So lets break down this list (foregoing the 21 full timers) starting with the most predictable and ending with the ones we least expect to hit the track:

#12 - Penske - Will Power: We know for sure this entry is in the 500; but according to word via SpeedFreaks, Verizon is apparently about to announce a deal to become a ICS sponsor as well as taking on Power as a driver. So the thinking goes; is that Penske simply does not have a crew ready to man that car in Kansas next week, as the Grand Am crew who did it for Long Beach will be back in action for Grand-Am next weekend. Here's where you get to be real happy; one badass looking car!

#15 - KV Racing - Paul Tracy: I like Paul Tracy for one great reason; he is great marketing. He stirs up crap with other people, says controversial things, makes controversial moves on the track, but at the end of the day; he can in fact drive a car when he wants to. The only extremely poor thing about this entry, is that the paint job sucks. Red/White/Blue blah.

#34 - Conquest Racing - TBA: This car might be TBA on that list but its Alex Tagliani; lets not kid ourselves.

Full-Timer Note Number A: We're absolutely thrilled that Luczo/Dragon's Matos entry will be showing its amazing Air Force paint livery for the 500. If you missed this paint scheme, take it from us; it is easily one of the best... ever.

#67 - Sarah Fisher Racing - Sarah Fisher: no surprises here, and no pay-evasion sponsor for Sarah; here's hoping she has a good Kansas to help them lead into a good month of May.

#16 - Panther - Scott Sharp: The gloriously awesome paint livery of Patron Tequila returns. Oh and Scott Sharp is back too; seriously though, great to have Scott back, a former pole winner, and multiple race winner; this is surely not an also-ran; and better yet; I'll be curious to see how they differentiate the livery from that of Mr. Viso's #13.

#41 - Foyt-Greer Racing - A.J. Foyt IV: This entry is of no surprise as A.J. IV has been hanging out with the Foyt team all year. What is of note is this "Greer" name in his team's title. Anyone know anything about this? And boy, we can;t wait for this boring red/white/blue predictable livery. Here's holding out a faint shred of hope that maybe we can even get the Conseco livery back to the Foyt team...

#43 - Petty/Dreyer Reinbold Racing - John Andretti: The car looks great, and its great to see the Petty connection (even if behind the scenes its in name only). Personally I wish John would go full time, he may be a little older than the young guys in the league, but he clearly proved he still belongs in an Indycar last year consistently putting the Roth Racing entry in the Top 10.

#44 - Dreyer Reinbold Racing/Kingdom - Davey Hamilton: Whatever you think about Kingdom's involvement in racing to begin with, they are really nothing more than Petty's name on the other DRR entry; only Petty's name mention garners national press. I love Davey as a racer, and he's a great analyst, a nice guy, came back from tremendous adversity and as we've said before, the Hamilton family carpooled with Mrs. Wedge growing up. Take any reason you want and root for the guy; here's just hoping his paint-livery is something worthy of HP and not the boring bland and unreadable thing he ran in 2008.

#99 - Ganassi/Schmidt - Alex Lloyd: We like it when drivers get the shot they deserve, and it is very nice to see Lloyd get a shot again. even nicer is seeing him get that shot with a Ganassi partnership with the ever-successful Schmidt team that Lloyd himself has history with, winning a Lights championship with them. As always we hope he (and Howard etc) can get themselves into full-time rides, but for now, we're just hoping the paint-scheme on this car is half as awesome as Lloyd ran in 2008.

And now for the TBAs

#8 - KV Racing - TBA: Most people are quick to put Oriol Servia in this car, as he was known to be working with KV to get in the car full time before the season. He sure is a possibility, but surely take of note that Townsend Bell was seen hanging out in the KV Racing pits all weekend in Long Beach.

#22 - Vision/Bryan Herta Autosport - TBA: We see this one happening, Bryan is not one to do anything non-committal & with a successful Lights team gaining sponsorship as they go, we don;t see any trouble for him to field this car, and especially not with Vision's assistance. (side-note: loving the Vision 20, 21, 22 # progression) Whoever may end up in this car, I'm sure we'll all be happy because Bryan isn't looking to field a ride buyer, just look at his FIL program. Personally we (and many many others) are wishing Bryan puts himself in the car; he's always run well at the 500; and he got a bum dismissal from the league to make way for Danica at AGR. And we're definitely hoping the livery for the car resembles or is at least equally as awesome as the BHA Lights entry.

#19 - DCR - TBA: Before last week we'd have put this entry lower on the list; but with Z-Line Designs coming back on board with DCR to sponsor Justin Wilson for the full season; we really like the chances of seeing a Sonny's BBQ #19 out there, and most likely with Bruno Junquiera; as Paul Tracy (the only other driver we know of Coyne talking to) is already signed, plus Bruno and Coyne's history.

#23 - Dreyer Reinbold Racing - TBA: Just about anyone would normally dismiss the idea of DRR going from 1 full time to 4 cars for the month of May. Think about that, it sounds silly; but because of a couple things we see it as pretty likely. First, Roger Yasukawa is already signed to run with DRR in Motegi, and said he was close to securing sponsorship for a 500 run. Second Darren Manning has already run 2 races with the team, and the car had sponsorship on it for both races. Third.... Milka... like it or not; while she may not have the money to run a full season with Newman/Haas/Lanigan, she very likely has all the money she needs to fund a Month of May (probably without even needing a sponsor); and she's definitely got the history with DRR.

Full-Timer Note #B: Marco Andretti is listed as "Andretti Green" right now. Does this mean Marco may actually be unsponsored for the 500? No way right? I have a feeling they're waiting to unfold the new Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen car. Seriously, would that surprise anyone? It'd be his 3rd movie car, and better yet would work nicely with the new VERSUS transforming IndyCars intro.

#25 - Roth Racing - To Be Announced as Marty Roth: Seriously who does Marty think he's kidding? He's funded his own racing career for years, he threatened to pull his team when he was getting black flagged, and its known he likely pulled the 2-car team out of the series full time to get revenge for a rumor of black flagging him for some races in the season. Are we seriously to believe that entry is TBA? Besides, Marty's got to keep going in setting the record for most Last Row Parties.

#36 - Conquest/Rubicon - TBA: Normally I'd just slot Buddy Rice here because of his previous agreement with Rubicon; and the talk that Rubicon likely came to Conquest's services with Buddy attached; but remember none of that has been reported in stone. I'd still lean to Buddy Rice being 80% in that entry with Jaime Camara at 20% due to his history with the team and that his amount of money attached in sponsorship may very well be enough to bring for a Month of May.

#48 Foyt - TBA: and now for the unexpected. We knew Foyt would put up an entry for Anthony IV; but surely no one expected a 3rd Foyt entry, right? Foyt is definitely not one to waste money on throwing in an entry, and surely not one to throw in an entry for both a car and a backup. So I'd expect this one to show up at least as a 2nd weeker, likely with Jeff Simmons who Foyt has a little relationship with; and beyond that maybe some up and coming driver to surprise us or Indy Lights driver Pablo Donoso, who if we all remember was announced in South America to be driving full time for Foyt last year, though it never happened.

#52 - Roth - TBA: Roth putting up the familiar #25 entry is not a shock in the slightest. However given the crap treatment he gave Jay Howard, dropping him mid May and then sweeping out the rug for the rest of the season; this 2nd entry sure is out of left field for us. Could this entry be an apology to Jay Howard? Will howard be doing the Freedom 100/Indy 500 double, that to date, only Jeff Simmons has attempted? John Andretti is already taken, so other than Jay, we really have no reading whatsoever on this entry.

#91 - Hemelgarn - TBA: If history tells us anything, its that Ron Hemelgarn doesn't screw around with the entry list. He means it, even if they only enter one car without a backup. We'd also expect to see Buddy Lazier in this entry, and we'd even expect to see it in the traditional 91 purple with yellow/white.

#68 - Fisher - TBA: Of all the entries that show up on the list, this one has to strike me and the most surprising. Sarah herself is only doing 4-6 races as it is, and I can't imagine they already have many spare tubs to sacrifice a practice crash befall them. That said, they put up the money it takes to at least get this entry on the list. So who can you see in it? Anyone I guess; she was talking to Darren Manning pre-season, but Darren A) doesn't bring a check, and B) may likely be in the DRR #23. Your guess is as good as mine as to who ends up here.

#17 - RLR - TBA: And finally, the Rahal Letterman "entry". Now while many people might think we're silly for putting this one last on the list of probability, think about the following.
A) Bobby Rahal over the past 4 years, would rather watch his son race than run his team; not that its a bad thing.
B) RLR clearly is not in this just for the love of motorsports; what do we mean? RLR is not going to field an entry if it doesn't make financial sense.
C) While RLR has majorily been supported by driver-sponsorships, they have never really run a driver simply based on sponsorship alone; e.g. a ride-buyer. And I really doubt RLR is suddenly going to bring in a Milka just to have an entry in the field.
D) When's the last time you remember a RLR driver running under a sponsorship of RLR's doing? Hunter/Reay & Simmons both ran under EPIC that the late Paul Dana brought to the team; Scott Sharp brought Patron; Danica brought Argent Mortgage that covered her and buddy Rice; Vitor brought along Menards & Paul Dana had EPIC. So before all that was Centrix maybe?

I'd love to be proven wrong, a lot of people speculate that Buddy Rice may end up back in this entry, and that'd be great because Buddy didn't leave on the best of terms, but lets wait until it happens before we start discussing it. If this entry does end up happening though, We'll be very curious to see what the car looks like because one thing is for sure, RLR has never given us a boring paint scheme.


So with all of that said, what is the most surprising thing to us? There is no 2nd Team 3G entry? It could mean many things, 3G only has a 'T' car to put Tomas Scheckter in? 3G and Tomas have called off all talks? Tomas has moved his/Rockstar's money/negotiations to another team? Rockstar has dropped Tomas altogether? Who knows, but unless 3G plans on dropping the T car into an entry for Tomas (which can be hard on teams at times), its curious to know what's going on there...

The best thing to note from all of this? We have 28 confirmed combinations as it is, and 6-7 more that will likely be confirmed in the next week without surprise. If both Milka Duno and Marty Roth or anyone else who some feel are questionable in talent they will have nothing to complain about. With at worst, possible 3-4 cars vying for that final spot, and at best a possible 7-8 cars going for it; there will not be anyone making it in the field by default.

And at the end of the day, that's something I think we can all enjoy.

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