INDIANAPOLIS – With Ed Carpenter Racing’s announcement that Jordan King will drive the No. 20 Chevrolet for the team on all the road/street course events for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, that leaves just one seat open for the upcoming schedule. The chariot that awaits is in the No. 19 Honda with Dale Coyne Racing. That ride was originally supposed to be slated for Ed Jones, but last year’s Rookie of the Year has since departed for Chip Ganassi Racing. Jones and Coyne had what they thought was a handshake agreement for Jones to return to that seat for the second straight year. But, when Ganassi learned that nothing was signed yet between the two sides, they pounced.
Jones, signed with Ganassi in the fall to replace Tony Kanaan in the No. 10 Honda for 2018, meaning the seat with DCR is now open.
As far as that coveted open seat, it’s been a revolving door the past few years. Last year with Jones was the first time the No. 19 entry had a full-time driver for the entire season since 2014. In fact, since the beginning of the 2014 season, 11 different drivers have driven at least one race for the team in that seat.
In 2016, Gabby Chaves, RC Enerson and Luca Filippi all took their turns in the ride. In 2015, it was James Davison, Francesco Dracone, Rodolfo Gonzalez, Carlos Huertas, Pippa Mann and Tristian Vautier with their shot.
The favorite has to be Conor Daly to land back in that seat, but he’s been hinting a lot lately that he won’t be though. Daly, had his best season of his career with DCR as he has two top five finishes and five top 10’s in 16 starts with the organization in 2016. Michael Cannon will be overseeing that car as Cannon and Daly had great success together two years ago.
Esteban Gutierrez who ran a part-time schedule in a replacement role for the injured Sebastien Bourdais would be a viable option since he’s not with ECR now. Santi Urrutia has his eyes on an IndyCar ride and a shot with DCR could be on the horizon for him too.
Team Penske (3) – 1 Newgarden, 2 or 12 Power, 22 Pagenaud
AJ Foyt Racing (2) – 4 Leist R, 14 Kanaan
Ed Carpenter Racing (2) – 20 Carpenter (ovals only) King (road/street course) 21 Pigot
Carlin Racing (2) – 23 Kimball, 59 Chilton
Juncos Racing (1) – 32 Kaiser (4 races)/Binder (4 races)
Harding Racing (1) – 88 Chaves
Andretti Autosport (4) – 26 Veach R, 27 Rossi, 28 Hunter-Reay, 98 Andretti
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (3) – 5 Hinchcliffe, 7 Wickens R, 60 Harvey
Chip Ganassi Racing (2) – 9 Dixon, 10 Jones
Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing (2) – 15 Rahal, 16 Sato
Dale Coyne Racing (2) – 18 Bourdais, 19 TBA
Indy Only (3)
Andretti Autosport (2) – 25 Wilson, 29 Munoz
Team Penske (1) – 3 Castroneves