On Thursday, two separate reputable racing websites reported that Grace Autosport and KVSH Racing were no longer moving forward with a potentially alliance for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. I have since learned that this indeed is true. With that being said, I have also learned that KVSH does indeed intend to run a third entry for next month’s big race and that the two leading prospects are either Stefan Wilson or Sebastian Saavedra in that seat.
Wilson brings funding from a Solar awareness sponsorship while Saavedra has AFS Racing funding him. Both have ties with KVSH so either would be a good option for the 16th Chevrolet entrant.
That only leaves Schmidt/Peterson Motorsports as the only other seat left as owner Sam Schmidt has been very vocal on his plans for that third car. Lucas Oil will be the primary sponsorship on that ride, as Schmidt has said his three finalists are now Oriol Servia, Gabby Chaves and Brian Vickers.
But, Schmidt also said prior to the IndyCar ruling on the domed skid plates, that if the series does indeed mandate them for the Month of May, then he will choose a veteran for his third entry due to the cars being so unstable with them on.
Well, IndyCar not only mandated the plates to be used, but they also banned the strakes too, as that would likely leave Schmidt wanting Servia was the Spaniard has made eight Indy 500 starts including five straight as well as competing in 198 career IndyCar races.
Chaves and Vickers have a combined one Indy 500 start and 16 career IndyCar races as all those go to Chaves. Vickers hasn’t ever raced in an IndyCar before, let alone test one, so his chances with the ruling announced this week on the aero rules hamper them drastically.
That’s why it appears Servia is the likely best fit for that team for May.
Then, Buddy Lazier has already stated his intent on bringing back his team to Indy for a third straight year and Dale Coyne Racing has all but announced Pippa Mann in his fourth entry which officially gives us 33 cars now.
That would make 17 Honda entries and 16 Chevy equaling the 33 mark that’s needed to fill the field.
Notice, none of those options have Grace Autosport in them.
Last May, Grace Autosport announced they’d show up to Indy next year with an all female team and a female driver in Katherine Legge. But, that is looking like it was too premature to announce as they currently don’t have a deal in place and with SPM wanting a “veteran” driver in the third seat, I can’t see them wanting Legge who’s made just two ‘500 starts in that car. Yes, she did run for them in 2013, which helps, but would SPM want Legge over Servia is the biggest question?
If not, then where does this team fall?
It’s pretty obvious that they need help as they need an alliance with another team. But, no one else has any room for them.
Ganassi and Penske are set at four entries each, ECR is capped at three, Lazier no way shape or form can run a second car and KVSH announced they’re no longer in talks with Grace Autosport.
So, the only Chevy team that could potentially house an added entry with Kingdom/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, but again, they don’t have the extra funding to help Grace Autosport out.
That leaves Honda team as none of them can take on anymore cars.
Andretti Autosport is maxed out at five as the only reason them and Bryan Herta Autosport merged is because both couldn’t afford additional entries on their own. So, with them out of money, why would they field a sixth car?
Coyne is showing up with four cars, so a fifth would be unheard of, Foyt is set with three and Rahal is set with two as Graham Rahal has said numerous times that the team won’t add an additional car if it takes away resources from his program.
Well…what would this do?
So, unless Foyt or SPM could somehow field a fourth car, Grace Autosport better find a way to get in to SPM’s third entry or find a way to get in with Kingdom/DRR in a second car.
If not, then the field of 33 will be just that, a field of 33 with no bumping.
Honestly, with how big of a magnitude this year’s race is, I can see all the teams pulling a “gentlemen’s agreement” and not fielding anymore cars past 33 so they all make it and can maximize the monetary values here.
Unfortunately, it could leave Grace Autosport bumped and qualifying hasn’t even began yet.