As ever, there’s more talent in wings than available IndyCar seats

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We got an early run on driver announcements in the Verizon IndyCar Series offseason with Simon Pagenaud going to Team Penske, James Hinchcliffe replacing him at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Jack Hawksworth switching to A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

But come the holidays, things have slowed, and as always the glut of available talent will be larger than the number of available seats.

With news Davide Valsecchi will be testing for SPM next month, it got me thinking a bit about all the potential drivers in play that could fill the remainder of the grid.

While this isn’t a silly season breakdown per se, here’s the list of seats we expect to be announced before the season opener in Brazil in March 8:

  • Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth car (along with a formal confirmation of the full lineup)
  • Andretti Autosport, fourth car (plus a possible fifth)
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, second car
  • KV Racing Technology, second car
  • CFH Racing, No. 20 road and street course driver alongside Ed Carpenter (ovals)
  • Dale Coyne Racing, both cars
  • Bryan Herta Autosport, first car

So that leaves eight seats, as many as seven of them full-time, remaining to be filled. And here’s who is currently on the outside looking in:

2014 DRIVERS WITHOUT CONFIRMED PLANS

  • Ryan Briscoe, Justin Wilson, Mikhail Aleshin, Carlos Huertas, Sebastian Saavedra, Mike Conway, Oriol Servia, JR Hildebrand, Sage Karam, Luca Filippi, plus additional month of May drivers.

As we’ve already chronicled this offseason on MST, either Briscoe or Karam is potentially in a no-win situation when it comes to how CGR puts its fourth car together, Wilson is unsure of his plans even though many want him to move up, Conway is weighing a move to Toyota full-time in the WEC and Hildebrand or Filippi would be good to see in full-time efforts. It’s hard to see more than three or four from this batch making their way into full-time rides, and Aleshin’s seat should be one to watch if he either chooses not to return or his funding falls through.

2013 DRIVERS WHO FELL THROUGH THE CRACKS

  • Simona de Silvestro, E.J. Viso, James Jakes, Tristan Vautier, plus additional month of May drivers.

Out of sight, out of mind, right? De Silvestro is starting to make the media rounds wanting to make a comeback after her F1 dreams have ended; Viso at least kept his face present with good fill-in work for an injured James Hinchcliffe during Indianapolis 500 practice; Vautier, the 2013 rookie-of-the-year, drove several sports car races for Mazda’s LMP2 program and became a TV star for Road to Indy TV; and Jakes may have reverted to actually being The Stig. While it would be nice for any of these drivers to return, they’re mostly lacking for full-time seat time in the last 12 months and would need to shake off the cobwebs upon a return.

YOUNG GUNS IN WAITING WHO HAVEN’T HAD A FULL-TIME CRACK

  • Conor Daly, James Davison, Stefan Wilson, Sam Bird, Davide Valsecchi, Daniel Abt, Gabby Chaves, Peter Dempsey, Jack Harvey, Zach Veach, Matthew Brabham, Ryan Phinny, Rodolfo Gonzalez, etc.

You could also add Karam and Filippi from the 2014 group to this list. This group is essentially a paella of drivers from around the world, some who’ve had an IndyCar test and/or some starts, some who are Indy Lights drivers waiting in the wings, and some who would be coming over from Europe. And this likely leaves out several drivers who would be interested but their names haven’t come up yet.

The problem, as always, is that there’s at least 20-30 drivers listed above in either of these three segments, and nowhere near enough seats to provide for the opportunity. In most cases, the drivers listed above will need to provide for themselves in the form of budget to make that chance happen.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.