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 He was pulled from the cockpit of his Roth Racing entry in 2008 for John Andretti, then his time was withdrawn when it would have been fast enough to qualify for the 2010 race with Sarah Fisher Racing.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.