Every year the Indycar field swells for the Indy 500, and mostly it’s been pretty forgettable names and hold overs from past seasons. With two of the biggest candidates, Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart taking their names out of the running there are still a number of drivers who could add interest and give peak interest in the Indy 500.
He’s publicly chased the ride that Rodger Penske offered Stewart at the NASCAR awards banquet, and there’s no reason for him not to race at Indy. After Red Bull Racing folded he found himself without a full time ride and has been hanging around Michael Waltrip Racing in the hope that something will develop, or Mark Martinwill finally retire. Currently he only has nine races on his schedule for 2013 according to Jayski, and none of them in the month of May. If he could get a contract signed in the next couple of months he could get some track time before the race and be there the entire Month of May.
It appears that at best the former Champ Car stand out is in line for a handful of starts with James Finch’s operation in NASCAR. He needs to build up his credibility and star power and a good run in the 500 could re-focus some eyes back on him. He’s also part owner in Michael Shank Racing, which has a tube and wants to get on track this year. With his open schedule there’s nothing saying he couldn’t do the pre-season testing, race at St. Pete or Long Beach and be familiar with the car once May starts.
Nelson Piquet Jr.
Who remembers anything this guy has done since getting banned from Formula One for his part in a race fixing scandal in Singapore? He’s won a couple of NASCAR support races but hasn’t caught on with a Cup team. Piquet is moving up to the Nationwide Series, and there are some conflicts with testing time, but nothing that couldn’t be accommodated. A good run in the Indy 500 could help him stand out in NASCAR.
Even though he’s the most promising Japanese driver, perhaps ever, Kamui Kobayashi was unable to earn a Formula One ride on talent or buy one outright. He raised more than $7 million and is banking most of it to use for next year, which is a wise move, but maybe he should consider an American stop. If he spent a fraction of what he raised he could get a solid car with a top team, plenty of test time and a warm up race of his choosing. He’s incredibly talented and a good showing at Indy could increase his chances of landing a F-1 ride in 2014.
He’s probably the least known name in this list, but that’s not really the point. Wickens is one of those promising young drivers with Formula One dreams who has been sidelined in DTM. He’s hoping to follow Paul De Resta’s lead into F-1 but after spending a year with Mercedes satellite team and didn’t wow anyone. He really needs to impress and he’s familiar with American open wheel, the 23-year-old Canadian has raced in the Champ Car Atlantic series for Gerry Forsythe and won the Formula Renault 3.5 series in 2011. While he has limited, if any oval experience if he got into the right seat it could propel his career forward.