The question of who will be driving the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda for the 99th Indianapolis 500 has been temporarily solved, with Australian James Davison turning his first laps of the month on Tuesday in the blue-and-white car.
Davison is yet to be officially confirmed for the race itself, but indications are pointing that way. Additionally, paddock sources suggest 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series rookie-of-the-year Tristan Vautier will qualify the car this weekend while Davison is on assignment in his No. 33 AE Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 for the Pirelli World Challenge race weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
As it is, Davison ran 15 laps on Tuesday for his first time in an IndyCar since driving the No. 33 AE KV Racing Technology Chevrolet in last year’s Indianapolis 500, when he finished 16th.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to be back in an IndyCar at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Davison said post-practice on Tuesday, via IndyCar.
“It was the windiest conditions I have driven in. I was quite fortunate last year to drive in very ideal conditions, so there was a lot more movement in the car than I had experienced before. We were regulated to run under 215 (mph) and I’m just really looking forward to getting on with our proper program tomorrow.”
While Davison continues to bank laps, two-time Indianapolis 500 starter Katherine Legge is also pounding the pavement this week in search of any potential opportunities that may arise.
Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.
“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”
Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.
The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.
Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.
Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.
Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.
Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.
Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”