Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Silly Season Roundup: November 24, 2010
This week's roundup of potential driver changes in the IZOD IndyCar Series for 2011:
- On this week's edition of the SPEED Report, Robin Miller reported that Graham Rahal is a likely candidate to drive for a satellite operation of this year's championship outfit, Chip Ganassi Racing. Rahal has secured a major personal sponsorship deal with Service Central, which backed Sarah Fisher Racing and Jay Howard for a handful of races this year.
The satellite operation would utilize current Ganassi personnel and basically be a Ganassi team in all but name, an arrangement that some claim is owed to Target's naming rights deal with the team. If the rumors are true, the new outfit would be a two-car operation (fellow American Charlie Kimball is the other potential driver) based out of Brownsburg, in the former Prudhomme Racing shop. Don Prudhomme, the ex-NHRA owner and driver who shut down his operation in January, attended some late-season IndyCar events with Chip Ganassi.
- FAZZT Race Team held a well-publicized test this week with Dutch-Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung with the help of team sponsor Bowers & Wilkins. Tung tested with the team at Sebring International Raceway in a No. 88 Dallara-Honda, and many indications suggest the team will attempt to bring him on full-time in 2011.
This is not Tung's first flirtation with American open-wheel - he had previously looked to join Champ Car in 2007. The 2006 German Formula 3 champion has held rides in almost every major open-wheel series the world over; in the past four years alone, he's won in Superleague Formula, competed in A1GP and GP2, and held test driver seats in Formula One.
The team's current driver and part-owner, Alex Tagliani, seems confident that Tung will be their second driver next year. Previous statements from owner Andre Azzi had indicated that the team would like to remain an all-Canadian outfit.
- Sarah Fisher Racing will make an announcement about the team's future on November 29. Various rumors suggest that the team will employ a single full-time American driver next year, with Fisher herself only running selected events in a second car. J.R. Hildebrand is one of the top available American drivers, but plenty more are available - Ed Carpenter, Jonathan Summerton, and Townsend Bell among them.