The upcoming 2018 IndyCar season promises: better looking cars, a number of drivers at new teams, and at least two, possibly three, new full-time teams. IndyCar is unique with regards to teams. To field a team in IndyCar, the price tag is drastically less than Formula 1; and it’s even possible to individually choose races to compete in. That is why McLaren Honda Andretti, was possible for Fernando Alonso last year.
However to field a full-time team in IndyCar from scratch is rare. Many full-timers last a few years and then fold or are absorbed by the larger teams. The most recent to collapse was KV Racing Technology which collapsed before the 2017 season. Therefore, with such long odds of sustainable success who are the new contenders for 2018?
There are rumours that Carlin Motorsport will field an IndyCar team after two seasons in Indy Lights. However team owner Trevor Carlin has been non-committal on a full-time team or even just an Indianapolis 500 entry team. While Carlin ponders the future in IndyCar, Mike Harding of Harding Racing is taking the plunge.
Harding Racing competed as a single-car team in 2017 part-time, at the Indy 500, Texas, and Pocono. All with Colombian Gabby Chaves. Harding finished well in the three races they contested, P9, P5, and P15, respectively. The move to a full-time squad in 2018 still requires some final confirmations, such as sponsors, engine choice (they used Chevrolet engines in 2017), and whether they will add a second car.
If the three-race experiment in 2017 is anything to go by, Harding should be a solid midfield team; competing among the likes of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing.
Owner Ricardo Juncos and Juncos Racing, keen to move into IndyCar with some of KVRT’s equipment, still has all to sort. Unlike Harding, Juncos only competed in last year’s Indy 500, but Juncos is no stranger to IndyCar; at least the Indy racing pyramid. They’ve competed in Pro Mazda since 2009 and Indy Lights since 2012. In that time, they’ve developed two drivers who’ve gone on to race in IndyCar: Conor Daly of A.J. Foyt Enterprises and Spencer Pigot of ECR.
Juncos still have to select and confirm drivers, sponsors, engine choice, and team size, however they are coming and that is a good thing.
With 10 full-time teams on the grid in 2018, they will add the parity that IndyCar already enjoy. With 20+ full-time drivers next year, it should add a new wrinkle to the IndyCar title chase.