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.
You can read the full article here:
IndyCar venues working to accommodate expanded grids
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.