By: Tanner Watkins
December 17, 2018 | 10:13 AM
The list of part-time IndyCar Series entries in 2019 just got larger as traditional sports car organization DragonSpeed announced its plans to go open-wheel racing on Monday.
Employing longtime endurance driver Ben Hanley for a five-race slate next year, DragonSpeed will compete at St. Petersburg, Barber Motorsports Park, Road America, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and the 103rd Indianapolis 500.
The team will be powered by Chevrolet, and this is the rumored first steps towards a full-time IndyCar program in 2020.
“INDYCAR is enjoying a major upswing thanks to the quality of the racing produced by the current regulations,” said team principal Elton Julian. “The fans see it, the teams see it, the manufacturers and sponsors see it, and I think NBC saw it when they decided to take on the (exclusive) television coverage. With so much interest from new entrants, we’re also grateful for INDYCAR’s support of our bid to join the series and to Chevy for making room for us in their engine program.”
DragonSpeed was founded in 2007 and has enjoyed success in the sports car ranks. In 2015 the team won the Pirelli World Challenge GTA championship and two years later they were crowned the European Le Mans Series LMP2 champions.
Their IndyCar Series participation will not take away from the endurance plans for 2019, either – the team will also race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona next month as well as the 1,000 Miles of Sebring and the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Driving for DragonSpeed in their maiden IndyCar Series season will be the British 33-year-old Hanley. An experienced road racer, Hanley will be entering his fourth season with DragonSpeed with minor open-wheel experience to his name. His most recent foray into open-wheel racing came in 2008, driving in the GP2 Series with stints in Formula Renault 3.5 coming before that.
As Julian notes, 2019 will be more about experience than results.
“For the team, it’s a matter of our growing experience catching up to our ambitions,” Julian said. “The last few seasons of endurance racing have given us an intensive platform for developing our preparation, race engineering, pit stop
“None of this is to underplay the difficulty of the challenge ahead, because INDYCAR is the toughest series we’ve ever contested, with the world’s biggest race as its centerpiece,” Julian added.
“On the other hand, we didn’t go from club racing a decade ago to a Pirelli World Challenge title in 2015 to prototypes at Le Mans without climbing a few mountains, and I take a lot of confidence from the talent and spirit of the people we’ve put together for the next summit.”
Header image courtesy of DragonSpeed.