Tony D's blog
The Indy 500 field is coming together, will we see bumping?
(Indianapolis, IN) After a long offseason, the Verizon Indy Car Series is ready to go green in 2018 down in St. Pete. With the start of the season comes questions and rumors about the 102nd Indy 500, and how many teams and cars will be on the entry list. The excitement for the season opening race is only top by the excitement for the Indy 500 coming in May, and the entry list is becoming clear.
Conor Daly made his announcement on Tuesday to run in the 102nd Indy 500 for Dale Coyne Racing with partnership from Thom Byne Racing and sponsorship from the U.S. Air Force. Daly returns to Coyne racing after a year with A.J. Foyt Racing, and other races outside of the Indy 500 could be in the works for the 26 year veteran of four Indy 500's. The sponsorship fits perfect with Daly's American persona. Daly has has a busy off season, representing Indy Car in CBS's Amazing Race & working hard daily to secure a ride for the Indy 500.
This puts the entry list for the Indy 500 at 34 cars unofficially with Danica Patrick racing for Ed Carpenter Racing, Jay Howard rumored to have a ride with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and a 35th car could still be possible if Buddy Lazier shows up. 36 cars could happen with Harding/Byrd Racing, but that might be an eleventh hour with Sebastian Saavedra or Jack Hawksworth. With the drama of the Fast Nine Shootout, my opinion, a very unpopular one, is to start all 34 or 35 drivers. What happens when a full time series driver, a former champion or, Danica Patrick are the 34th or 35th fastest? What if someone gets injured in a wreck and isn't cleared for qualifying, but might be for the race? Are you going to tell a Penske or Andretti car to go home? The series needs to make all sponsors happy, and hopefully the sponsors continue to return.
Sage Karam was announced by Dreyer & Reindbold Racing, and I would expect J.R. Hildebrand to sign with DRR as well. Pippa Mann is very close to a deal with Dale Coyne, Andretti Autosport running six cars, bump day may take on a significant meaning for the time since 2011. The series, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway & owners will have to make a decision, prior to the opening day of practice, on if they will allow more than 33 cars, or keep with tradition and start 33.
St. Pete opens the season this weekend ( Pre-Race 11:30 am on 1070 The Fan) & the new car will be on display for the first time in racing action. A slicker, faster look could allow drivers to reach into the mid 230s for qualifying at Indy. St. Pete poses plenty of challenges for drivers, as temporary street circuits change year end and year out. As we learned last year, this race is up for grabs year end and year out, but I expect the trend of veteran winners to continue this weekend.
2018 Season Predictions. St. Pete Winner : Graham Rahal
2018 Rookie of the Year: Zach Veach
2018 Indy Car Champion: Alexander Rossi
2018 Indy 500 winner : Ed Carpenter
2018 race winners : 8 winners in 16 races. Carpenter, Dixon, Newgarden, Pagenaud, Rossi, Rahal, Power, Bourdais.