IndyCar plans change for regular Indy 500 driver

James Davison has indicated that he will not be competing in this year’s Indy 500 for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing despite initially having plans to do so.

Dale Coyne Racing formed a partnership with Rick Ware Racing, which field four full-time entries in the NASCAR Cup Series, ahead of the 2021 IndyCar season to field two cars: the #51 Honda, a full-time entry, and the #52 Honda, a part-time entry.

This partnership got started last season when Dale Coyne’s team and Rick Ware’s team came together with Byrd Belardi to field the #51 Honda in the 104th running of the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for James Davison, who made his Cup Series debut last year and competed part-time for Rick Ware Racing after that.

Davison posted a picture on Instagram back in February indicating that he will be back with the team for another Indy 500 attempt in 2021.

The post included a picture of himself as a Japanese Anime character in a Rick Ware Racing IndyCar Honda #51 firesuit.

It stated the following:

“I’m back. As a random Japanese Anime character. Ready to take on 15+ NASCAR Cup races and the INDY 500 in 2021. It all starts today at DAYTONA.”

Afterward, it was confirmed that if Davison were to be back with the team for the 105th running of the race, he would not be driving the #51 Honda, since that car was meant to be a full-time entry split between one road and street course driver and one oval driver.

Romain Grosjean had already been confirmed as the road and street course driver of the #51 Honda, leaving the four oval races open, but it was Pietro Fittipaldi who was then confirmed as the car’s oval driver.

Now it has been rumored — all but confirmed, really — that Cody Ware, the full-time Petty Ware Racing Cup Series driver who is the son of Rick Ware, is slated to get the opportunity to attempt to qualify the #52 Honda for the Indy 500, rounding out the team’s three-car driver lineup for that event. Ed Jones is the full-time driver of Dale Coyne Racing’s #18 Honda through a partnership with Vasser-Sullivan.

And Davison has officially acknowledged that he won’t be back for this year’s running of the 200-lap “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) oval in Speedway, Indiana, as he is opting for a 26-race Cup Series schedule.

The 34-year-old Australian has six Indy 500 starts to his name. Driving for Dale Coyne Racing with Byrd / Hollinger / Belardi, he finished in a career-high 12th place in the 103rd running of the race back in 2019 after overcoming an early issue in the pits.

The only other time he finished the race was in 2014 when he finished in 16th place as a rookie driving for KV Racing Technology.

In 2017, driving for Dale Coyne Racing as the replacement for the injured Sebastien Bourdais, Davison went from last (33rd) place to first and led two laps late in the race before he was taken out in a wreck.

A pit incident ruined his race in 2015 in his first Indy 500 start for Dale Coyne Racing, and a crash took him out in 2018 when he was driving for A.J. Foyt Enterprises with Byrd / Hollinger / Belardi. Last year, an early mechanical issue knocked him out of the event.

This year’s running of the Indy 500 is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 30. Qualifying for the race is scheduled to take place on both Saturday, May 22 and Sunday, May 23.