Reports: Daly, Jones set for Foyt, Coyne 2017 confirmations
Before the U.S. Presidential Election went down on Tuesday night, the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series silly season burst open again in the hours before it.
First up was A.J. Foyt Enterprises, where Conor Daly had always been in the frame for one of the two seats but without hedging his bets of being too confident, looks set to secure the second seat there (via Motorsport.com, later via RACER.com).
Daly made his IndyCar debut with Foyt in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 before driving a partial season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Dale Coyne Racing in 2015, and a full season with Coyne in 2016.
Foyt has not yet confirmed its impending switch from Honda to Chevrolet engines and aero kits - nor either driver - but it would be set for a major upheaval of change provided the i’s get dotted and t’s get crossed once contracts are signed and things become official.
In a sentence, Foyt would go from Honda/Takuma Sato/Jack Hawksworth to Chevrolet/likely Carlos Munoz/Conor Daly as a package, and that’s before you get into engineering and other team personnel there. Interesting times ahead.
Coyne, meanwhile, said during an October conference call after Sebastien Bourdais’ confirmation that he was hoping to have both his seats finalized by November.
It doesn’t appear he was kidding.
“Yes. We announced last year earlier than ever in the 18 car,” Coyne said on October 12. “We’re working very close to some programs with all the usual suspects to get something done here by the end of this month so we’ll know both of our drivers going into November.
“We have more tests planned. I should add that this is a two-year program with Sebastien. This is not just a one-year program. It’s two years and possibly more. So we’re excited about that. Especially next year with the equalizer coming in 2018 with an aero kit the same for everyone, I think that will really help us.
“But not sure which car number Sebastien will be in yet. We’re still working on lots of sponsorship programs. Depending on how that comes out, that will determine whether it’s the 18 or the 19. We got a lot of things going and are very excited to be in this position this early.”
That second driver looks set to be Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion Ed Jones, which isn’t the Indy Lights graduate many folks pegged for the seat alongside Bourdais. Following a string of three impressive end-of-year outings, RC Enerson had raised his stock and figured to get a good look in a full-season role there.
However, RACER.com has now pegged Jones in the second car. The Dubai-based Brit admitted to NBC Sports in the days after securing his Indy Lights title he’d had conversations with multiple teams and hoped to get a deal done within the month.
The question was always whether he’d be able to stretch his confirmed three races via winning the $1 million Mazda advancement scholarship into a full-season opportunity with the necessary budget to do so.
Neither seat has yet been confirmed by the respective teams, as noted, but these two fillings would reduce the already dwindling number of available slots left in the 2017 field.