Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Jourdain To Return to Indianapolis; Others Still Trying

For the second consecutive year, Mexican driver Michel Jourdain, Jr. will drive for Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing in the Indianapolis 500. Jourdain will return with Office Depot Mexico as his sponsor. Jourdain was a first day qualifier in 2012, starting 22nd in his first Indianapolis 500 in 16 years and first open-wheel race in 8 years. Jourdain would go on to finish 19th, only two positions behind his then-teammate Takuma Sato, who had an accident after trying to pass Dario Franchitti for the lead in turn one on the final lap. Thirty driver-team pairings have been officially announced for the Indianapolis 500.

While drivers such as Jourdain, Ryan Briscoe, Conor Daly and Carlos Muñoz all knowing their plans for the month of May; a number of other drivers are on the outside looking in. Townsend Bell, a regular at Indianapolis the past half decade, is without a ride. He has driven for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports the last three years at Indianapolis, a team who have yet to announce an extra entry for 2013. Bell finished 9th last year, the second highest finishing American and has qualified in the top ten two of the last three years. Jay Howard's name has also be linked to a one-off at Indianapolis with SPM but nothing further has been announced from Howard.

Bryan Clauson sent out the following tweet, making it appear the USAC driver is attempting to find funding for one more shot at Indianapolis. In 2012, Clauson drove for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a team who has made it clear a second car for 2013 was unlikely.
Pippa Mann has been linked to Dale Coyne Racing and just four days ago Mann tweeted she has some "good news." Mann did not race an IndyCar in 2012 but ran the Sonoma round of the Auto GP series when the European series came to the United States with the FIA World Touring Car Championship. Mann finished 20th in her only Indianapolis 500 start in 2011.
Buddy Rice's name has been linked to a one-off entry with Panther Racing. The 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner last raced an IndyCar at Kentucky 2011 and was in the abandoned Las Vegas race. In his last Indianapolis 500 start in 2011, Rice drove for Panther, started 7th and finished 18th after being out of an IndyCar since 2008. Rice was recently in Brazil, driving in the RallyCross event at the X Games Brazil.

Jaques Lazier's name has been floating around about attempting a comeback at Indianapolis. The 42-year old brother of 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier has been out of a car for nearly three years and has not been a race since Homestead 2009. Lazier has said he does have a new Dallara chassis to use for the race if the pieces fall together.

With the Indianapolis 500 just 33 days away, the field is just three away from full with many respectable names looking for rides. Some may end up in the field come May 26, others may be mere spectators. The clock is ticking on Indianapolis hopefuls and finding a ride will not get any easier from this point on.