World Endurance Championship LMP1 privateer team DragonSpeed will today speak to IndyCar as it plots a one-car entry for the 2019 season.
DragonSpeed intends to run Ben Hanley in IndyCar, having begun work on the potential program last month and, continuing the growing trend of smaller outfits affiliating with a larger team, DragonSpeed is looking into a similar arrangement. The team is aiming for a part-time program including the Indianapolis 500 next year.
Team boss Elton Julian says the program’s viability has been helped by the WEC’s revised winter calendar following its one-off ‘superseason’, and that he intends to staff the solo IndyCar with his existing sportscar team personnel.
“We’ve been focused on GT racing and prototype racing, having some success there,” he told Autosport/Motorsport.com. “But we’re running out of places on the racing ladder, so where do we go next? Formula 1 is obviously not realistic, but IndyCar is. The budgets we’re spending now, the performance, and the people on engineering and crew are all open-wheel [experienced] guys already.
“[IndyCar is] such a natural fit, and with the way we’re going with the WEC’s winter season after the superseason, it means in a way we could do both. All that kind of brought the moment together, where we needed to look at it.
"IndyCar is in a position to capitalize on their latest decisions with the [new car] looks and the racing on track and the new broadcast package. That matters a lot in the US when I go to ad agencies and people like that, that stability is really believed in.
"I want to make it happen while we have momentum and intention."
DragonSpeed believes that an IndyCar program will be similar to costs in the WEC’s LMP2 category, which is funded by paying drivers as opposed to sponsorship. Julian adds that securing an engine deal will be the key factor that determines his IndyCar entry, and that affiliation could further help the program.
"That’s the biggest thing [an engine supply], everyone knows it," he said. "[With] certain things about the performance side of IndyCar, you can save bucks and cut a few corners by affiliating with a team and learning from them. So, you maybe spend a little more up-front, but you save more in the long run by not chasing your tail trying to learn that way.
“My goal and intention is to promote our capabilities as a team by chasing results and creating a long-term scenario in IndyCar. We’re definitely considering it [affiliation] for those two reasons mentioned, and more so for the performance side to hit the ground running."
DragonSpeed will not evaluate the driver market with Hanley considered influential in the team.
"He’s now just another tool in the draw,” Julian said. “There’s no difference between the chief engineer, chief mechanic, number one mechanic, strategist, Ben or truckie. They’re all what makes us strong and he’s part of the family."