Danica-Watch Entering Final Stages
While no team confirmation has been made, it appears that the final pieces are about to be put together for Danica Patrick’s run in the 102nd Indianapolis 500, her final competitive effort in the sport of auto racing.
With the announcement that long-time supporter GoDaddy.com will sponsor her attempts at the Daytona 500 next month and at the Brickyard in May, the potential location of her performances appears to be gaining clarity after talks seemed to lose steam after the Christmas holiday.
In the early scenarios, it appeared that the likely destination for the 2005 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year’s effort would be with Chip Ganassi Racing, after the team’s owner was quoted by the Associated Press as having “liked the idea,” of Patrick returning to IndyCar
s for one final race. The path to a third car for Indy alongside the team’s regular pilots Scott Dixon and Ed Jones reached a dead-end however, when Ganassi confirmed that an extra car would not be made available.
In addition to CGR, other full season runners also showed no interest in acquiring Patrick, including Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, whom the Roscoe, Illinois-native drove for in 2005 and 2006 and Andretti Autosport, who provided entries for her from 2007 to 2011.
As the entries capable of winning at the Brickyard began to disappear, other chances for Indy have surfaced. According to RACER Magazine, the most realistic option at this point appears to be with Indy-only entrant Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Although the Indianapolis-based operation has not contested the full Verizon IndyCar Series circuit since 2012, the squad overseen by car dealership magnate Dennis Reinbold has annually contested the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in each of the last five years, including three of the previous four with veteran Sage Karam.
In recent months, the chances for two cars from DRR began to gain steam for this May. Reinbold purchased two brand-new Dallara DW12 chassis, complete with the all-new aerodynamic kit for this season. The add-ons mean the team has three cars at its disposal. If things work out, Pennsylvania’s Karam would be in one machine, while the second car would be made available to another funded driver, with Patrick being one option.
Reinbold has hinted at a possible return to the full-time participation in the Verizon IndyCar Series, and an expansion for the Indy 500 in May could provide a springboard for it.
Another team that could become a Plan B alternative is Harding Racing, who debuted at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2017, finishing ninth with Gabby Chaves. As reported by POPULAR OPEN WHEEL earlier this month, team president Brian Barnhart has mentioned a desire to enter a second machine alongside the Colombian veteran to improve performance. Although not confirming or denying any chats with Patrick, the former IndyCar Series director of competition said he would be open to offering a ride if all other opportunities did not come to fruition.
Stay tuned to POPULAR OPEN WHEEL on this developing story as new information is obtained.
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