Tuesday, February 5, 2013

James Jakes to Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan; Few Seats Remain

The popular belief was Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing would expand their operation to two cars in 2013 and they will be. However their new second driver was not pegged as their first choice. James Jakes will enter his third season in the Izod IndyCar Series with RLLR in the #30 Acorn Stairlifts Honda.

After a below-average rookie season where his best finish was thirteenth and he failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, Jakes scored two top tens in 2012, an eighth at Toronto and a tenth at Texas. Jakes leaves Dale Coyne Racing for RLLR who will field two cars for the first time since 2007, when the team fielded Scott Sharp and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who took over for Jeff Simmons after he was released mid-season.

Jakes joins Graham Rahal who will also be in his first season with his father's team. Mike Conway was announced to be running a one-off at Long Beach. Nothing has been announced about a possible Indianapolis 500 only entry this season. The team has not won a race since Watkins Glen in 2008 and the team ran Indianapolis only from 2009 to 2011.

Jakes becomes the tenth announced Honda entry making the tentative full-time line up at Ganassi (3), Schmidt-Petersen (2), RLLR (2), Foyt (1), Herta (1) and Sarah Fisher-Hartman (1). Chevrolet has tentatively twelve full-time entries announced, Andretti (3), Penske (2), KV (2), Dragon (2), Panther/D&R (2) and Ed Carpenter Racing (1). Other rumored additional entries are a fourth Andretti, fourth Ganassi, third Penske, third Dragon, second Foyt, second Coyne and Michael Shank Racing.

With Jakes being signed, Ryan Briscoe and EJ Viso are the only two full-time drivers from 2012 to have yet announced their plans for 2013. Rubens Barrichello has announced he will be racing in Stock Car Brasil and Mike Conway is still working on a full road and street course program.