As expected, Quebec’s Alex Tagliani will indeed return for what would be his eighth start in the Indianapolis 500, piloting a third entry for AJ Foyt Racing. The No. 35 Honda-powered entry will be sponsored by Al-Fe Heat Treating, a partner for Indy-only efforts with Super Tex’s organization for the past two seasons. The entry will also add another car to the grid for the preceding Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, taking place for the third consecutive year on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Tagliani enjoyed a solid month of May last year at Indy, managing to out-qualify his two full-time Verizon IndyCar Series teammates Jack Hawksworth and Takuma Sato. Although never a serious factor near the front of the field on race day, the 2009 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year finished on the lead lap in 17th place. The long time Champ Car World Series veteran has had his moments at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, particularly in qualifying as he has placed fifth or better twice on Pole Day, including a pole winning effort for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the 100th anniversary running of the May classic in 2011.
With last week’s announcement, the current list of confirmations for the 100th edition of the Indianapolis 500-mile race currently stands at 30 car/driver combinations, with several potential drivers still seeking rides at this time. The closest to securing seat number 31 at this point appears to be Stefan Wilson, the younger brother of Justin Wilson who was tragically killed in a crash during last year’s IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. The younger Wilson, a veteran of the Cooper Tires Indy Lights Series has secured backing from SolarAid, a group that advocates the changeover from fossil fuels to solar power around the world. That fact is actually not lost upon the old Brickyard, who brought their own solar farm online just outside turn three of the 2.5 mile oval in July of 2014. The partnership, according to sources has all but assured the potential Indy 500 Rookie of the Year candidate of a spot on this year’s entry list. Nothing has been confirmed at this point nor has any potential team been mentioned, but most familiar with the situation say that it is just about a done deal.
Also likely in the running for Indy 500 seats is Townsend Bell, an Indy 500-only regular every year since 2009. Bell has been backed by Robert Graham clothiers for his past two Indy attempts, and with the brand present on his entry last Saturday in the 12 Hours of Sebring IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race, the money needed to secure a seat is certainly in play. You could also expect another Indy appearance for Colombia’s Sebastian Saavedra, who drove at Indy last year for Chip Ganassi Racing. Saavedra has long been associated with Gary Peterson of AFS Racing, also a source of funding for a top seat. After competing in the last two Indy 500s for Ed Carpenter Racing, J.R. Hildebrand could wind up with another employer this May as could Oriol Servia, who replaced the injured Will Power for Team Penske in the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Stay tuned to OnPitRoad.com’s for further news and updates from the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Road to the 100th Indianapolis 500, presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.