22 apply for IndyCar Leaders Circle program
IndyCar received official Leaders Circle applications from 22 entries, 20 of which were among last season’s top finishers.
Those 20 were eligible to receive the estimated $1 million in sanctioning body assistance this season based on their top-22 finish in 2012. Application deadline was Friday.
The No. 38 car of Ganassi Racing (driven last year by Graham Rahal) and the No. 8 of KV Racing Technology (driven last year by Rubens Barrichello) did not re-apply. Barrichello has taken a job in Brazil’s stock car series; Rahal has moved to his father’s team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Team Penske applied for three Leaders Circle positions even though at this time it has announced programs for only two drivers (Helio Castroneves and Will Power). Teams had to submit $50,000 to continue the application process.
Also applying for a Leaders Circle spot was Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (for driver Josef Newgarden) and Dragon Racing (for Sebastien Bourdais).
It is also expected that Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports will expand to a two-car program in 2013. Team officials have announced a second season for Simon Pagenaud. Another French driver, Firestone Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier, is expected to join him, although it’s still possible that the car is driven by Ryan Briscoe, who has left Team Penske.
Dragon Racing also eyes a return of its second car, although a driver has not been confirmed.
If all of those programs materialize, IndyCar will have 24 full-time participants. It had 25 in the second half of last season as Dragon split its Chevrolet between two drivers (Bourdais and Katherine Legge).
Andretti Autosport applied for its three Leaders Circle spots, and team officials are still working to have a fourth car. It’s also possible that Ganassi finds sponsorship for a fourth. Bobby Rahal’s team still could have a second car.
Dale Coyne Racing will have Justin Wilson in one car, but team officials have not announced a program for the second car.
Leaders Circle applications:
Team Penske (3): Helio Castroneves, Will Power, third TBD.
Panther Racing (1): JR Hildebrand.
Panther DRR (1): Oriol Servia.
KV Racing Technology (2): Tony Kanaan, Simona De Silvestro.
Andretti Autosport (3): Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe.
Ed Carpenter Racing (1): Ed Carpenter.
Dragon Racing (1): Sebastien Bourdais.
Ganassi Racing (3): Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball.
Dale Coyne Racing (2): Justin Wilson, second driver TBA.
A.J. Foyt Racing (1): Takuma Sato.
Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports (1): Simon Pagenaud.
Bryan Herta Autosport (1): Alex Tagliani.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (1): Graham Rahal.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (1): Josef Newgarden. Indy Star