Numbers are the big story in the NTT Indycar Series this week. A famous car number is switching teams, an increased number of entries may cause problems at certain tracks, and there is lots of speculation about how many entries there will be for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500.
We are still waiting official word that J. R. Hildebrand will return to Dreyer and Reinbold Racing for the 500. He not only still needs a car, he needs a number as well. In 2018 Hildebrand drove car 66. Last year, Hildebrand was in car 48. Both of those numbers have gone to Arrow McLaren SP cars. Fernando Alonso will drive the 66, and the 48 will be on the car Jimmie Johnson tests next month at Barber.
A team isn’t going to the trouble of requesting another team to relinquish a car number just for a test. This step makes it fairly definite that Johnson will drive in at least one race next year. I would think he would be in more than one race. I don’t think DRR gave the number to AMSP for free.
Lots of Cars, Not Enough Pits
Marshall Pruett had a story on Racer.com yesterday about the increased number of entries at certain tracks and the possible dilemma that may create with pit space. Mid Ohio and Toronto are the two venues where this potential issue may arise. As usual, Indycar President Jay Frye had anticipated this and was already working on it.
With 24 full time teams, some tracks are already at their limit. I think we will see 26 cars at several races this year. Pruett states that the finale at Laguna Seca could see 28 cars. I anticipate at least that many for the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis as well.
500 Car Count
For now I an sticking with my prediction of 35 cars for the Indianapolis 500. I will not be upset if there are more. Marotti Racing hinted at an announcement coming soon. That is an entry I didn’t expect.
It is not unusual for NTT Indycar Series teams to test at Sebring in January. It is unusual for a part time team to test, however. Dreyer & Reinbold is planning a four race program for 2020 and will take part in Monday’s test at Sebring International Raceway. The team has been Indianapolis 500 only the past few years. Sage Karam will drive for the team. A possible second entry for the 500 is also in the works.
We will also get to see two rookies on track together. Rinus VeeKay gets his first run for Ed Carpenter Racing, and Oliver Askew will test for Arrow McLaren SP. Askew’s teammate Pato O’Ward will also get some time Monday.
Team Penske will test two time Australian Supercar champion Scott McLaughlin.
You Can Help
Long time racing broadcaster Bob Varsha has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Varsha has broadcast nearly every form of auto racing in his career.
A GoFundMe campaign has been established by Marshall Pruett for Bob. You can contribute at
With Dreyer & Reinbold’s four race plan and Dragonspeed’s six race program in place, there are some rumblings that Juncos may have something in the works for 2020 as well. Assuming the both Carlin and Foyt have two cars for the full season, several races could have expanded grids.
What a great thing that would be for the series to have fields large than the 22 or 23 we have been used to at most events.