IndyCar: Bryan Herta Autosport/Green1 announce Indy 500 entry for Jay Howard

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There are generally some Indianapolis 500 announcements that come in the offseason, but early November as a projected second car for a usual one-car team would have to come as a surprise for most Verizon IndyCar Series observers.

Nonetheless, such is the situation where Bryan Herta Autosport/BBM has today announced it has partnered with Green1 – listed on its website as a powerful 100% Bio Based, (non petro chemical), non toxic, non hazardous, authentic 100% green degreaser / cleaner – to run Jay Howard in the No. 97 Dallara-Honda entry.

It would be the projected second car to the team’s full-time No. 98 entry, which seeks a driver to replace Jack Hawksworth for the 2015 season. Hawksworth has moved to a second full-time car at A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

“Although this is early to announce an Indy 500 entry, we wanted to put this exciting news out right away,” Herta said in a team release. “We have been using Green1 in our shop for years now and believe in the quality of the product as well as the performance and safety it gives us.  We will be working closely in the upcoming months with the team at Green1 to seek additional partners who share Green1’s vision and core values to expand this program to additional races and venues with Jay at the wheel.”

Howard has had something of a checkered history in IndyCar and in the Indianapolis 500 in particular. He was pulled from the cockpit of his Roth Racing entry in 2008 for John Andretti, then his time was withdrawn when it would have been fast enough to qualify for the 2010 race with Sarah Fisher Racing.

He finally made his first and thus far only start in the 2011 Indianapolis 500 in a jointly entered Sam Schmidt Motorsports/Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry – coincidentally, in the year where Herta’s team won the 500 with the late Dan Wheldon. Howard has not driven an IndyCar since the weekend of the canceled 2011 season finale at Las Vegas.

“There are no words that can describe how happy I am for this opportunity,” Howard said in the release. “The entire BHA team from Bryan, BBM, the guys in the shop, they all have the same determination and passion to win as I do, so it is a perfect fit. I have personal knowledge in what a unique industry changing technology Green1 is, and piloting the car for the Green1 alliance will be an honor. I am also on board in doing my part, by sharing my knowledge and helping make the world a better, safer, cleaner, place.”

This is the second confirmed one-off Indianapolis 500 entry for 2015, joining the KV Racing/Byrd Racing entry for Bryan Clauson. Foyt confirmed during its Hawksworth/Takuma Sato announcement last week it will only run two cars for next year’s Indianapolis 500, rather than add a car as it traditionally has done.

Herta was in Austin this weekend for some meetings, and is working towards finalizing the program on the team’s full-season entry.

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”