Friday, November 22, 2013

IndyCar Silly Season In Full Swing

A week until Thanksgiving and IndyCar teams are making moves.

Tristan Vautier is out at Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing after one season and will be replaced by 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 champion, Russian Mikhail Aleshin. Aleshin tested for the team last week at Sebring.

In his one season of IndyCar, Vautier had one top ten at Barber Motorsports Park and finished twentieth in points while winning rookie of the year as he was the only rookie to compete in the full slate of races.

Aleshin has spent six of the last eight seasons competing in Formula Renault 3.5. In his championship season of 2010 he defeated Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Guerrieri for the title. In 2009 he finished third in the Formula Two championship behind Andy Soucek and Robert Wickens. Aleshin will become the second Russian driver to start an IndyCar race. Baron de Rachewsky made one start in 1926 at a board track in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Racer Magazine's Marshall Pruett is reporting Tristan Vautier is still working on options to stay in IndyCar in 2014 as well as expanding his driving to sports car racing including pursuing a ride in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

Carlos Muñoz has been confirmed as a fourth driver at Andretti Autosport. The Colombian driver competed in Indy Lights the past two season finishing fifth and third in the points each season and collected six wins in twenty-four starts. Muñoz made three IndyCar starts in 2013 which saw him start and finish second in the Indianapolis 500 and taking home the honor as Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. He also started race two at Toronto substituting for Ryan Briscoe after he broke his wrist in race one. He also substituted for an ill EJ Viso at Fontana where he was running after front before having an accident end his day.

At Ed Carpenter Racing, Mike Conway will run the road and street course in the #20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium entry while Ed Carpenter will run the oval events. Last year Conway competed in seven races in 2013, six for Dale Coyne Racing and one for Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing. He picked up a win and a 3rd at Belle Isle, two sevenths at Toronto and a ninth in race two at Houston. In the six oval races in 2013, Carpenter had three top fives, five top tens and won pole position for the Indianapolis 500. Carpenter finished sixteenth in the final point standings ahead of race winner Takuma Sato and both Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan drivers Graham Rahal and James Jakes.

In other news, Arie Luyendyk, Jr. tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring last week and Francesco Dracone will best testing for the team in December. Mikaël Grenier tested with KVSH Racing and Sébastien Bourdais at Sebring earlier this month.

Speaking of Sébastien Bourdais. He will be sponsored by Mistic E-Cigs in 2014.

Panther Racing announced a partnership with Charter Media. Charter specializes in cable television advertising, marketing production and research.

I already wrote about twelve candidates to consider to replace Dario Franchitti at Chip Ganassi Racing. Paul di Resta said he is interested in the vacant seat while Sergio Pérez is open to IndyCar and another driver I did not mention, Nico Hülkenberg is a fan of IndyCar but is focused on Formula One and isn't keen of ovals.

Mentioned on this week's edition of Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee, Lazier Partners Racing are interested in expanding their operation in 2014.

Still a lot rides open and there are still a little over four months until the start of the 2014 season.