I was scarfing down lunch today and mentally playing fantasy matchmaker with open or hypothetical second seats at various teams and the drivers who could fill them. Taking the big three + Foyt out of the equation, here’s some I came up with. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.
Panther – JRHildebrand - Full Time program, Ed Carpenter – Oval Program, John Edwards - Road +500 program. Some of this may be in the works already. Robin Miller has placed JR meeting Guard Brass last week. If you have been at a Pacer game this year, you know that Fuzzy and Ed are going to be somewhere next year and it’s a pretty cool use of the new balcony rim lights at the fieldhouse. If it is true that the guard is paying Panther $10m a year to field a team, and $3M is no longer going to Dan Wheldon you would imagine that it would not require a large amount of incremental money to round out the rest of the road schedule and like JR, Edwards would be another good match for the core sponsor.
Lotus/KV – Sato and Tracy…Come on Jimmy and Kevin… Do the right thing…
Newman Haas – Lloyd and Mutoh. Alex had a good year driving on the leftovers of Citgo’s dime, it would be nice to see him take a step up into a better ride in 2011. Word has been that the clock is ticking down for one of the storied teams in open wheel history, here’s to a 4th quarter deal coming together for a pairing that was supposed to happen last year.
Coyne – Viso and Summerton. Viso has money and will be somewhere, while word still has him at KV next year, Dale gave Milka’s Venezuelan money a good ride and he would do the same for EJ’s as well. Jonathan was one of the drivers in the mix for the BSA ride last year and, like the National Guard pairing above, this would be another bold step towards logical sponsor/driver alignment.
Dreyer Reinbold – Wilson, Conway and Beatriz. Wilson is signed, a Comeback by Conway would be a great story and frankly we all could use a little more Ana Beatriz.
Conquest – Baguette and Vernay. Bertrand was a pleasant surprise last year and the Lights champ should always have the chance to move up. Can you imagine the Continental Breakfast at the Conquest hospitality tent? Croissants, Waffles and Brie!
Sarah Fisher Racing – Townsend Bell with Sarah back for the 500. Randy Bernard killing off the under promoted and under attended races at ISC properties for hopefully better attended ones elsewhere should play well with a marketing plan for Herbalife to use race events to get distributors in touch with and sampling to a large number of potential new customers. If the Dollar General money buys into Townshend as well, could this be a full season deal with split sponsorship?
TCGR Satellite operated by Sam Schmidt – Graham plus Jay Howard for the 500. We may hear about something like this real soon…
DeFerren Dragon – Kanaan and Matos. Tony runs on Sugarcane Ethanol and could probably teach Raphael a thing or two, both on the track and how to be more congenial to fans off the track.
Fazzt – Tagliani and Hinchliffe. In case you have not noticed, there are a few examples of “All Nation” teams in this list – let’s throw in one more! And all of Canada, both English and French speaking, came together for a group hug, and a dog wash.
HVM – Desilvestra and Pippa Mann. Simona is booked for next year and Pippa would be a nice pairing for the 500 plus a couple other events. As for sponsorship, someone get H&M on the phone!
Rahal Letterman – Dan Wheldon for the 500 and perhaps the rest of the Ovals? To date the NOZ has only been in hand, perhaps it’s time to be on the side of a car too…
And Finally, JP’s Lottery Money would buy up any leftover 3G, Vision or any other equiptment he can get his hands on for Oriol Servia, Roger Yasukawa and Wade Cunningham. Because good, talented guys deserve rides too.