That sound you hear off-track this weekend at Mid-Ohio is someone cueing up "IndyCar musical chairs," because it's August and drivers are rotating around the seats until someone is left standing.
To start the process, one of this year's rookie-of-the-year contenders is rejoining the team where he won that award in 2007 in Champ Car.
Robert Doornbos, the affable Dutchman better known as "Bobby D," has confirmed a departure from Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, after an anonymous first 12 races this season. "Bobby D" now reunites with HVM Racing for the remainder of 2009 and all of 2010.
"I am very happy to rejoin Keith Wiggins, Michael Cannon and HVM Racing," said Doornbos. "I was very successful with this team in 2007. My mission is to become Rookie of the Year again with this young and eager team. I like to thank Keith for his confidence in my driver skills and look forward to the first race for HVM next weekend."
The team has prepared a second Dallara, #33, for the Dutchman in under 48 hours and has it off the trailers and rolling this weekend. Both driver and team are looking for similar results as happened in 2007 in Champ Car, when Doornbos won twice and finished third in the series standings.
"He had a very good year with us in '07 and he has a great deal of experience behind the wheel, so he will be a good addition to our team," said HVM team owner Wiggins. "And, of course, everyone in our organization knows him and likes him, so we'll just be picking up where we left off with him two years ago."
The vacancy this weekend at N/H/L goes then to a driver also with prior experience in the team, and it's a welcome return for Oriol Servia who filled in admirably for Bruno Junqueira in 2005. Servia, like Junqueira, has spent all but the month of May in 2009 on the sidelines and now takes his spot in the #06 entry.
In his prior stint with N/H/L in 2005, Servia took over for an injured Junqueira, won his first race at Montreal, and finished runner-up in the standings to teammate Sebastien Bourdais.
Servia drove at this season's Indianapolis 500 for Rahal Letterman Racing and showed a good turn of speed as a second-week entry, but was unable to finish the race with a fuel pressure loss just past half distance.
Also, Richard Antinucci is back for the CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G, as the Indy Lights runner-up of a year ago is confirmed for this weekend and the final road course event at Infineon in two weeks. Jaques Lazier and Stanton Barrett will alternate on the ovals, Barrett running at Japan owing to Japanese sponsors.
Conquest Racing is also in flux. They will run three of the final four events with two different drivers, Nelson Philippe and four-year IndyCar veteran Kosuke Matsuura.
Philippe returns for his fourth tour of duty with the team at Infineon and Homestead in an "I drive green" livery similar to his run at Indianapolis for HVM. At Japan, Matsuura will drive the #34 CLICK Securities car. Prior driver Alex Tagliani and the team endured an acrimonious parting of ways after Edmonton.
"I left after six events contested, including in Canada where I absolutely wanted to participate," Tagliani told RDS.ca about his season. "From the outset, I knew I was not going to make a full season, but I feel more like I was part of plans for the future of the Conquest team."
"On the other hand, I was tired of being part of a team which is part-time. We must not delude ourselves, in such a context, consistency is lacking and no development is done, nothing has improved. Everything we do is go to the races and do the best we can. Eventually, it could get frustrating," Tagliani summed up.
The field drops to 21 this weekend without Will Power, Tomas Scheckter and Sarah Fisher, but with the addition of the second HVM car it's only a net loss of two. From Infineon on the grid is expected to be at least 22 cars with the possibility of more.