Verizon IndyCar Series 2015 silly season update, Round 1


With several driver announcements in the last month, the Verizon IndyCar Series grid is coming together for 2015.

Here’s where we stand at the moment:

Team Penske (4, Chevrolet)

Confirmed: Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud. Power’s a champion, Pagenaud and engineer Ben Bretzman move over from Schmidt Peterson, and Castroneves and Montoya return again after top-five championship seasons. A four-headed monster.

Chip Ganassi Racing (4, Chevrolet)

Expected: Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball. Although no formal announcements from the team have been made regarding any of their drivers, at least three of the same four from 2014 are expected to continue. Dixon and Kanaan ended 2014 on a high with wins in three of the last four races.

To be determined: The fourth car. Ryan Briscoe has been reported out, although the team’s said nothing as such; rookie Sage Karam is poised to step up to a full season. The car’s budget is something they’re working through, per team manager Mike Hull.

Andretti Autosport (4, Honda)

Confirmed: Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz. RHR won the Indianapolis 500 and Munoz was rookie-of-the-year to provide highlights a year ago.

To be determined: The fourth car, which Michael Andretti still expects to run. Daniel Abt has tested, Justin Wilson would be a perfect fit, and Andretti has Zach Veach and Matthew Brabham potentially waiting in the wings. Andretti also remains hopeful of a fifth car, but that would be later in the offseason to be determined.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (2, Honda)

Confirmed: James Hinchcliffe. Team leader, Canadian driver at a team with a Canadian team owner in Ric Peterson, and driver launch announcement made at a brewery. Sounds Hinchtown-certified.

To be determined: The second car. Mikhail Aleshin is in the driver’s seat provided he recovers from Fontana injuries and wants to return, but will still need the budget to confirm a second year. Gabby Chaves, Rocky Moran Jr. and Rodolfo Gonzalez have tested for the team this fall.

A.J. Foyt Enterprises (2, Honda)

Confirmed: Takuma Sato, Jack Hawksworth. Hawksworth moves over from BHA and Foyt has a full season two-car lineup for the first time since 2000. No third car for the ‘500 expected.

CFH Racing (2, Chevrolet)

Confirmed: Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter. Newgarden stays with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing as it transitions into CFH, merged with Carpenter’s fellow single-car squad.

To be determined: Carpenter’s road course ringer. Mike Conway can return only if he isn’t offered, or opts to decline an offer from Toyota Racing to join its FIA World Endurance Championship full season program. With five WEC conflicts on road and street courses, Carpenter would need another driver, and JR Hildebrand or Conor Daly would be a perfect fit for an all-American team. A third car is likely for the Indianapolis 500, and would be a natural spot for the road course driver.

KV Racing (2, Chevrolet)

Confirmed: Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais in for year two with KVSH and looks for a multiple win season after breaking through at Toronto last year. Bryan Clauson is also confirmed for the Indianapolis 500 in a KV-run entry for Byrd Racing, as that name returns to that race for the first time in 10 years.

To be determined: The second full-time car. Also to be confirmed is the team name of said second car, whether it’s a KVSH entry, KV Racing Technology alone, or something different altogether. A wild card entry that will likely require a funded driver.

Dale Coyne Racing (2, Honda)

To be determined: Both cars. It’s only November. The season doesn’t start til the spring, so there’s no need to panic. This is standard operating procedure for DCR. We don’t know who will fill Dale Coyne’s two cars, but we do know Dale will find a way to field two like he always does.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (1, Honda)

Confirmed: Graham Rahal. Set to work with Eddie Jones and reunite with Mike Talbott and Martin Pare on the engineering front, while a pursuit of a new primary sponsor continues to replace the departed National Guard. A second car ran part-time in 2014 but there haven’t been any rumblings of it coming back for 2015; the team traditionally runs an extra car at the Indianapolis 500.

Bryan Herta Autosport (1, Honda)

Confirmed: Jay Howard, Indianapolis 500, second car. Announced last week, Howard will seek to make his return to IndyCar for the first time in four years.

To be determined: First full-time car, as the winning owner from the 2011 Indianapolis 500 looks for some newness next season on the driver and sponsor front.

Lazier Partners Racing (1, Chevrolet)

Confirmed: Buddy Lazier, Indianapolis 500. The 1996 race champion and his family-run team are expected to return for a third go-around in 2015.

Potential wild cards (2 cars)

Both Davey Hamilton and Fan Force United have made outliers about their hopes for getting into IndyCar in 2015. Hamilton, a previous partner with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, could support an existing team or branch out on his own.

FFU, which ran the Lotus-powered entry for Jean Alesi in 2012, had announced its intentions to run with Stefan Wilson next year, but that’s gone quiet in the last couple months. It would be great to see, though.