Photo Credit: KV Racing Technology
After an offseason full of changes, we are now just six weeks away from the season opener of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. However, teams and drivers still have lots of work to do before we get to that point, and that starts with the teams who don’t know what drivers will be in their cars and the drivers that don’t know what team they will be driving for if they even will be driving at all this upcoming season.
There will likely be 21* drivers racing full-time in the Verizon IndyCar Series this season. Of those 21 driver seats, 19 have been confirmed or are expected to be confirmed with a driver. Of those 19 seats, only 12 are filled by the same driver on the same team as in the 2016 season. Even with so many changes already this offseason, there will still be more to come in the upcoming six weeks.
In terms of the vacant seats, the #7 car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was supposed to be driven by Mikhail Aleshin this season, just as it was last season. However, it appears that the deal to have Aleshin drive the car once again this season has fallen through, creating a vacant seat for another driver to hopefully take advantage of. The other car currently without a driver is the #11 car for KVSH Racing, which is the only car that the team had a full-time driver for in the 2016 season. There was also talk about Schmidt Peterson Motorsports hiring a driver to occupy their #77 car in a full-time role, but with the #7 car not even having a driver right now, that appears unlikely, and that means there are two cars with open full-time seats right now.
Drivers that could potentially grab these open seats on the grid in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series are Sage Karam, Matthew Brabham, Scott Hargrove, Kyle Kaiser, Sean Rayhall, Felix Seralles, Dean Stoneman, Zach Veach, Shelby Blackstock, Jack Hawksworth, Luca Filippi, Santiago Urrutia, RC Enerson, Gabby Chaves, Jack Harvey, or even Mikhail Aleshin if he can somehow come up with a viable deal.
One thing is for sure. There is plenty of talent among the drivers mentioned above that no team should have fewer cars on the grid than they were expecting to have heading into the 2017 season. With so many drivers looking for a full-time ride in the Verizon IndyCar Series, the two teams with open full-time seats should be able to fill those seats well before the season begins in 42 days.
*Not included are the drivers of the #20 car for Ed Carpenter Racing, which will be driven by Ed Carpenter on the oval tracks and Spencer Pigot on the road and street courses, just as it was for the majority of the 2016 season.