Today the announcement came that Jordan King has been added to the stable at Ed Carpenter Racing, slated to drive on the road and street circuits in the team’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. With that news, the list of available rides for the 2018 IndyCar season continues to shrink.
Still, a handful of serviceable drivers are looking for rides for at least part of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Here is a look at some of the names still on the table – and how things could shake out for them.
A favorite among fans and those within the paddock, Conor Daly is still left searching for an IndyCar ride. The Amazing Race competitor, who drove full-time for A.J. Foyt Racing last season, has been unable to secure funding for a ride as of yet.
With the only open full-time seat remaining with Dale Coyne Racing – where Daly ran the 2016 IndyCar season – the Noblesville, Indiana native’s chances at returning full-time to the IndyCar Series are uncertain at best.
The best case scenario for Daly’s return may be an Indianapolis-only deal. Earlier in January, Conor reported on the Marshall Pruett Podcast that teams often ask for up to $1.5 million in funding for Month of May programs, so that may be the magic number that Daly is searching for. There are realistic possibilities with either a second Harding Racing or Juncos Racing entry for the Indianapolis 500, and those may be the best options for the 26-year-old at this point.
Zachary Claman de Melo
After making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in the 2017 season finale at Sonoma with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Indy Lights winner Zachary Claman de Melo quickly became a name thrown in the hat for open seats in 2018. Claman de Melo brings sponsorship from PaySafe and has been linked to the Dale Coyne Racing ride vacated earlier this offseason by Ed Jones. As with many drivers, funding will likely be the deciding factor if Claman de Melo were to fill the seat at Coyne.
Despite being considered by many as the favorite to land the road and street course ride for Ed Carpenter Racing, Gutierrez still remains on the outside looking in.
After doing a solid job filling in for the injured Sebastien Bourdais during the summer, Gutierrez is still looking for work in 2018. The Monterrey, Mexico native noted recently that he has been working on securing a ride and has been in contact with multiple teams, but nothing has materialized as of late.
Gutierrez has not only been linked to rejoining Dale Coyne Racing alongside Bourdais, but also has been rumored to be in consideration for a possible second full-time entry with Harding Racing.
By far the most recognizable name in this group, Patrick’s name has been in the news ever since she announced her intentions to end her career at this year’s Indianapolis 500 back in November. The former IndyCar winner has been linked to multiple teams for her last race.
Among those teams have been Chip Ganassi Racing, as well as Dreyer and Reinbold Racing and Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports as secondary options. Chip Ganassi has noted repeatedly that despite speaking with Patrick and her representatives, the business model has not fit the proposal just yet.
Shortly after announcing her intentions, Patrick’s father T.J. noted that Dreyer and Reinbold is considering expansion to two cars for the 102nd Indianapolis 500. With these rumors in mind, coupled with the fact that Patrick’s brother-in-law Chase Selman is Dreyer and Reinbold’s team manager, Danica is sure to find a ride for her racing sendoff if things do not work out with the “Chipster.”
As is normally the case, the constant shuffling of drivers between rides leaves several known racers on the outside looking in this offseason. Among those who have yet to announce any plans to for 2018 IndyCar competition include J.R. Hildebrand, James Davison, Sebastien Saavedra and Tristan Vautier.
Hildebrand has yet to announce any plans for racing 2018, while Davison, Saavedra and Vautier have deals in place to run sports cars full-time.
Any of these drivers could be in contention for an Indianapolis 500 seat should the opportunity present itself. Teams like Dreyer and Reinbold Racing as well as Harding Racing are weighing their options trying field multiple cars for at the Indianapolis 500, and perhaps additional IndyCar races.
Two months remain until the start of the season in St. Petersburg, but that time will pass quickly as teams, drivers and sponsors shore up their 2018 plans.