A few more pieces have fallen into place for IndyCar 2014, with the biggest remaining domino on the market, the fourth Chip Ganassi Racing seat, now filled today with Ryan Briscoe.
Here’s what we know since our last update immediately after Fontana:
CONFIRMED CARS (21)
- Chip Ganassi Racing (4 cars, Chevrolet): Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe, Charlie Kimball. Two former series champions and Indianapolis 500 winners, and four drivers with wins. A solid lineup, although Dixon’s the best of the lot.
- Team Penske (3 cars, Chevrolet): Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Will Power. Montoya’s gotten several days testing in and is already up to speed. Meanwhile, Power is Vining and growing a mustache.
- Andretti Autosport (4 cars, Honda): Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay. Munoz is confirmed although his number hasn’t been, but he’s worthy of the promotion from Indy Lights.
- Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (2 cars, Honda): Simon Pagenaud, Mikhail Aleshin. Team nomenclature changes depending on partners and Aleshin confirmed since last update, a potential surprise driver in 2014.
- KVSH Racing (2 cars, Chevrolet): Sebastien Bourdais, TBD. No changes, second car up for grabs.
- Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2 cars, Honda): Graham Rahal, TBD. Second car will require additional funding if the National Guard deal doesn’t come through, but may not if it does.
- Ed Carpenter Racing (1 car, Chevrolet): Mike Conway/Ed Carpenter. Ed does a great thing for the team with Conway addition; team a genuine contender on all circuits now.
- Dale Coyne Racing (2 cars, Honda): Justin Wilson, TBD. His opportunity in a top-flight ride past for now yet again, so Wilson’s giant-killing display will have to occur once more. Francesco Dracone and Arie Luyendyk Jr. have tested the team’s second car, but neither appears a realistic full-season contender for that seat.
- Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (1 car, Honda): Josef Newgarden. Contract year for Josef and we’ll see how he develops.
ALL BUT OFFICIAL (1)
- A.J. Foyt Enterprises: The Takuma Sato and Honda confirmations appear close to a formality at this point, even with Sato testing in Formula E.
- Barracuda Racing: Luca Filippi. Filippi seems to have the edge over JR Hildebrand at the moment, after we reported at Austin the Italian was close to a deal. But a signing does not seem imminent, as Hildebrand is still working on his own future. The team may need additional budget to close the gap for its first seat, and that could bring other drivers into the equation.
WILD CARDS (3)
- Panther Racing: Will likely require a funded driver as team reorganizes over the offseason.
- Dragon Racing: Per RACER.com, a likely Indianapolis-only entry for the month of May with the team’s full efforts focused on FIA Formula E.
- Dreyer & Reinbold Racing: Also per RACER.com, Dennis Reinbold’s team seeks a full-season return after a truncated 2013.
- 2013 full-timers: Simona de Silvestro and James Jakes have their pick of seats at the moment and backing to support their efforts. Tristan Vautier and Sebastian Saavedra, meanwhile, don’t seem likely to appear on the 2014 grid.
- 2013 part-timers: Alex Tagliani’s best shot has closed at Ganassi and a move to sports cars full-time seems all but inevitable, although with what team and car remains to be seen. Oriol Servia, JR Hildebrand and the rest of the drivers through to P39 from 2013, who knows.
- Potential rookies: Sage Karam would seem to figure into the equation, even with his available support, but windows are closing rapidly. His best chance went out the window when Schmidt signed Aleshin for the second seat. The same concern exists for Conor Daly, who’d be an invaluable addition to the field but might need to find further support to make that dream a reality. Other Indy Lights hopefuls – Gabby Chaves, Peter Dempsey, Stefan Wilson, Jack Hawksworth and on down the line – might need a Christmas miracle at this point.