Coyne and TBA are reunited, so who could fill the No. 19 seat?

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Going into the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener a few years ago, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, we had a tongue-in-cheek post looking at Dale Coyne Racing’s TBA options for its No. 18 Honda.

Ultimately, Colombian Carlos Huertas was the team’s choice, and his shock win at Houston race one stood as the team’s most recent race victory until Sebastien Bourdais opened the 2017 season on top this year.

However the rapid movement of Brendon Hartley away from Chip Ganassi Racing has seen Ganassi pry Ed Jones from Coyne’s grasp for 2018.

Hartley was projected for the Ganassi seat but received a Formula 1 chance from Scuderia Toro Rosso starting at last week’s United States Grand Prix.

Bourdais and Jones’ early confirmation last year seemed to project a brave, TBA-less world at Coyne, but now – like midseason after Bourdais’ injury in Indianapolis – TBA is back at Coyne with a vengeance.

It now means the No. 19 Honda alongside Bourdais for 2018 is open, and there’s any number of candidates who could fit.

Here’s a list of potential options:


Coyne and Enerson. Photo: IndyCar

Coyne’s rotation of drivers in its Nos. 18 and 19 cars throughout the last three years has been plentiful, and features this list of drivers not currently signed for 2018: Esteban Gutierrez, James Davison, Tristan Vautier, RC Enerson, Conor Daly, Luca Filippi, Pippa Mann, Huertas, Rodolfo Gonzalez, Francesco Dracone and Rocky Moran Jr.

That crop of 11 drivers features a couple proper standouts, a large number of drivers with mid-range potential and two or three drivers who are best left forgotten in IndyCar lore.

Of that group, Daly, Enerson and Gutierrez would seem to have the best chances… hypothetically.

Daly overachieved results-wise in 2016 but largely achieved those finishes thanks to excellent strategy from Coyne, who Daly called a “wizard.” But he’s now out at Foyt. Enerson’s three-race cameo at the end of 2016 impressed many in the IndyCar paddock, but his miss at the seat for the 2017 season seems to loom large.

Gutierrez back again? Photo: IndyCar

Gutierrez is in a position where he desires a full-time seat and Mexico desires a full-time race, but would Coyne want to keep him for another season after a respectable but not outstanding series of fill-in drives for Bourdais this year? That’s a bigger question mark.

Knowing Coyne’s propensity to take chances on young drivers, it might be worth looking instead at the next crop of kids.


As Coyne struck pay dirt with both Jones and Enerson in the last two years, it’s worth looking at the number of Indy Lights drivers poised to make the step up to a greater IndyCar role in 2018.

Harvey. Photo: IndyCar

Jack Harvey, the Englishman, has a budget to float with support from AutoNation and SiriusXM. His three-race stint this year between Andretti Autosport with Michael Shank Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was decent, but he didn’t have the best set of circumstances at his disposal in either opportunity.

Could ZCD replace Jones? Photo: IndyCar

Zachary Claman DeMelo, the teenaged Canadian, is another driver who would seem to fit here. The Montreal native made his debut at Sonoma with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and excelled on race pace for those looking deeper than just the pure results. With support from Paysafe, “ZCD” might be the three-letter acronym that replaces “TBA” at DCR.

Santi Urrutia celebrates his first win of 2017. Photo: Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Santiago Urrutia has talked openly of being “close” to an IndyCar seat and is known to have had conversations with Coyne before. The Uruguayan has a wealth of speed to burn and talent at his disposal, but he’s not had the best relationship with some of his team members in his two years in Indy Lights, save for engineer Tim Neff who he excelled with.

Matthew Brabham seems forgotten by the IndyCar world but the Australian American is an affable young kid with a lot of talent at his disposal. Budget has always been his biggest hurdle to clear though.

Others such as Colton Herta, Aaron Telitz and Nico Jamin, who all tested at the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test last weekend, all are likely a year away or more from their IndyCar bows. Jamin, of these three, is the most IndyCar-ready while Telitz impressed in a big way with his win in the rain at the Watkins Glen finale.

Past Indy Lights drivers Dean Stoneman and Felix Serralles headed to sports car racing in 2017. Meanwhile Felix Rosenqvist has a Formula E contract for the 2017-2018 season, so the speedy Swede is unavailable, and half the reason the Jones-to-Ganassi thing happened in the first place was due to the contract block as Rosenqvist is highly regarded by Ganassi and was the leading candidate for the No. 10 car if he was available.


Knowing Charlie Kimball, Carlos Munoz and JR Hildebrand all raced full-time in 2017, they could be available, but given budget isn’t a strong suit for any of these three – Kimball would probably have the most to offer – it’s highly doubtful any of these three would be in the frame for the seat. Kimball has raced only for Ganassi while both Munoz and Hildebrand have now bounced around multiple teams in the paddock. Kimball has been linked to Carlin’s potential bow with Max Chilton as its lead driver, but isn’t confirmed there.

Similar Sebastian Saavedra has been teammates with Bourdais twice previously at Dragon Racing and KV/AFS Racing. He’ll have some budget on offer but seems less likely as well.

Honda Dallara 2018 UAK test driver Oriol Servia would be an excellent choice here and achieved his best success in IndyCar with Bourdais as his teammate in 2005, at Newman/Haas Racing. But the chance of Coyne having two veteran drivers here are slim at best.


Knowing there’s been occasional out-of-left-field choices in the past, there could well be interest from drivers whose F1 hopes have faded or upcoming drivers who might not be able to graduate into F1 from Formula 2 who could enter the frame. Similarly, there’s drivers in the sports car world who may have interest here too.


Picking the answer to a Coyne TBA choice requires finding the best answer to a hypothetical math equation, which is: Talent + Budget / Realistic Hopes of Succeeding in a Low-Pressure Environment.

The drivers listed above boast varying degrees of talent and budget and realistically, a younger driver with less than a full year’s experience in IndyCar will be more well attuned to the opportunity here, than a more experienced driver.

It makes one of the Indy Lights drivers the more likely pick at this juncture ahead of most of the recent Coyne leftovers, as the combination of an eager-to-please young gun with a budget in hand means they’d be entering in with lower expectations, and would look to emulate an Enerson or a Jones in wowing the paddock depending on how they progress.

It’s also worth noting whoever the pick is will have an excellent engineering team at their disposal to work with.

Does Daly get another shot at Coyne? Photo: IndyCar

This is Dale Coyne though, and Daly’s “wizard” term is accurate here.

Something of a magician to have kept his small-budget team going for 30-plus years, Coyne’s known for surprises.

Faced with the unexpected vacancy to fill, how Coyne moves forward is now the next big question mark of the goofy 2017-2018 IndyCar silly season.

Jett Lawrence wins Hangtown Pro Motocross, remains perfect in 450s

Lawrence Hangtown Motocross
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Jett Lawrence remains perfect in the Pro Motocross series after recording another perfect round at Hangtown in Rancho Cordova, California. In his second start on a 450, Lawrence won his second National with his fourth consecutive moto win. It is getting increasingly difficult to find the right superlatives to describe the exploits on the reigning 250 West Supercross champion.

“The track was so brutal out there,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Jason Thomas. “The bike handles amazing even when it’s not too friendly. You had to be really patient; you couldn’t take too much. I didn’t eat enough before that second moto. I kind of lost energy halfway through, but luckily I could use technique and balance and just keep that flow going.”

Lawrence leaves Hangtown with an 18-point advantage over Ferrandis in the 450 Motocross standings, but perhaps more importantly, he climbed to 19th in the SuperMotocross standings and should he stay there, he has an automatic invitation to the Main events in the SMX Championship.

“On this track, you just have to manage,” Lawrence continued. “If you try to take too much and not respect the track, it will bite you very quickly. It was humbling on the first few laps. I got kicked on the cutout at the start of the third section, the tabletop going to the left. I had to get my focus because the boys were coming.”

Still in his first few races since returning from a concussion suffered at Houston in the Supercross series, Dylan Ferrandis finished second with results of third in Moto 1 and second in Moto 2. While Ferrandis was happy with the result, he remains hopeful that he will contend for victory shortly.

“The first moto was very hard for my physically, Ferrandis said. “I got arm pump and when you get arm pump your body gets tired. But I’m very happy because we made a big change for the second moto. We tried stuff every session today and in the last moto the bike was much better, but unfortunately I wasn’t sure what I could do with this bike because the track was very hard and difficult to pass.”

RESULTS: How they finished in the 450 Overall at Hangtown

With the rash of injuries at the end of the Supercross season, the podium was filled with heartwarming stories. Cooper Webb returned to action last week in Pala and failed to make the podium. He is steadily improving with a third-place finish in Hangtown. after finishing with a 4-2.

“It’s incredible what seven days can do,” Webb said. “Last week I felt like I was going to get lapped in the second moto. This week, I could see the leader. It was nice. I fought hard, learned how to suffer again there and that felt nice.

Moto 2 wasn’t pretty for Lawrence. On several occasions in the opening laps, he nearly high sided as he rode the front wheel through the ruts. The reward was worth the risk. By the halfway point, Lawrence had 4.5-second lead over Webb, who was embroiled in a tight three-rider battle for second with his teammate Aaron Plessinger pressuring him and Ferrandis ready to take advantage if those made contact.

It took 20 minutes for Plessinger to get around Webb and once he did, he trailed Lawrence by four seconds. But then, with three minutes remaining, Plessinger crashed and had difficulty restarting the bike, handing second back to Webb who has seven seconds behind Lawrence. Plessinger fell to fourth with results of third and sixth.

Adam Cianciarulo rounded out the top five with a 5-4.

Last week Hunter Lawrence won the overall with a 3-1. He repeated that feat in Hangtown in an exact replica of his Fox Raceway results last week. In Moto 1, Lawrence got off to a slow start and lost 10 seconds in the opening laps. Forced to overcome a sixth-place position in the race at the end of Lap 1, he once again caught the riders ahead of him when the field hit heavy traffic. For the second week, scored another 3-1 for the Hangtown National win.

“The start was crucial’ I knew I had to go,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Jason Thomas. “They laid a lot of water down, so I didn’t want to be behind any longer than [I was]. First hot one of the year, was a bit of a wakeup call, so I’m happy to get out of here safe and healthy.”

Lawrence’s third-place finish in Moto 1 featured a fierce battle for final spot on the podium when he caught Spain’s Guillem Farres and France’s Tom Vialle. With Lawrence hailing from Australia, the international nature of the sport was highlighted.

Lawrence left Hangtown with a 10-point advantage over Haiden Deegan in the Pro Motocross championship battle.

Click here for 250 overall results

Justin Cooper finished second in both motos to finish second overall. Hangtown represented a huge improvement from Fox Raceway where he finished fifth overall with a 5-4 finish in the two motos. Cooper pressured Haiden Deegan in the second half of Moto 1 and he earned the holeshot in the second moto and stayed within three seconds of Lawrence in that race.

“He was following me a little bit, checking out my lines, seeing where he was better,” Cooper said. “It’s disappointing to give up the lead like that but it was way better than last weekend. I will definitely take two seconds. I want to be on the top of the step. I feel like I get close to the top step but I never get it done. That’s building up the frustration – the fire. I really want to get one of these wins, so it’s time to start digging.”

Haiden Deegan earned the first holeshot of his career in Moto 1 and rode away from the field, building a four-second lead in the opening laps. Cooper trimmed the lead at the halfway point and for a while it leveled off at two seconds. Then Cooper made another charge with three to go and closed to within a second. Deegan was biding his time, however.

“I was saving a little. I knew at the end Justin was going to try and put a charge on. I let him get up close and then sent it super hard at the end to break him a little at the end.”

Deegan’s first moto win comes in only his fourth National and he remains perfect in regard to podiums this year.

“This was a dream since I was a little kid, to win,” Deegan said. “And in my fourth race, it’s gnarly. I was just sending it. I was getting a little tired at the end becasue I left my mouth open the whole time. It’s unreal; I’m so hyped. I wanted to win bad and I proved it to you guys.”

Chaos erupted in turn 1 in Moto 2 Jeremy Martin went and another rider ran over his arm. Michael Mosiman crashed further down the track on that same lap. Both riders were helped off course by the Alpinestars Medical team.

2023 Motocross Race Recaps

Fox Raceway: Jett Lawrence wins in first 450 start

2023 Supercross Race Recaps

Salt Lake City: Chase Sexton ends the season with win
Denver: Chase Sexton wins, takes points’ lead with Eli Tomac injury
Nashville: Chase Sexton keeps hope alive; Cooper Webb out
New Jersey: Justin Barcia wins muddy race; first in two years
Atlanta: Chase Sexton is back in the championship picture
Glendale: Eli Tomac wins 51st, breaks tie with James Stewart
Seattle: Eli Tomac wins and ties Webb for first
Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Cooper Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Eli Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Eli Tomac wins opener for the first time

More SuperMotocross coverage

Chase Sexton is out for Hangtown
Enzo Lopes re-signs with Club MX for 2024
Record Supercross attendance reported in 2023
SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Pala
Results and points after Pala
Jett Lawrence wins Pala in his first MX start
450 Champion Chase Sexton takes back what he gave away
250 West Supercross champion Jett Lawrence ends dream career
250 East Supercross champion Hunter Lawrence overcomes doubt and injury