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Sports cars’ DragonSpeed to expand into IndyCar part-time in 2019, full-time in 2020

dragon speed logo

The IndyCar Series will add another team to its ranks for the upcoming 2019 season.

The new team, known as DragonSpeed, will compete on a part-time basis next season, with hopes of expanding to a full-time entry in 2020.

For now, the new team plans on competing in five races in 2019, including the 103rd Indianapolis 500. The other races on include the IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg (March 10), Barber Motorsports Park (April 7), Road America (June 23) and Mid-Ohio (July 28).

“IndyCar is enjoying a major upswing thanks to the quality of the racing produced by the current regulations,” team founder Elton Julian said in a media release. “The fans see it, the teams see it, the manufacturers and sponsors see it, and I think NBC saw it when they decided to take on the (exclusive) television coverage.

“With so much interest from new entrants, we’re also grateful for IndyCar’s support of our bid to join the series and to Chevy for making room for us in their engine program.”

British driver Ben Hanley, 33, has been tabbed to drive the Chevrolet-powered car for DragonSpeed. Hanley will be an IndyCar rookie, but will be entering his fourth season with DragonSpeed in the sports car ranks.

Hanley also has past experience in Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2, as well as being a test driver in F2.

“For the team, it’s a matter of our growing experience catching up to our ambitions,” Julian said. “The last few seasons of endurance racing have given us an intensive platform for developing our preparation, race engineering, pit stop and strategy skills. There are some impressive open-wheel credentials up and down the team, and Ben’s pace and exceptional detail feel for setup and tires should be a great asset.

“None of this is to underplay the difficulty of the challenge ahead, because INDYCAR is the toughest series we’ve ever contested, with the world’s biggest race as its centerpiece,” Julian added. “On the other hand, we didn’t go from club racing a decade ago to a Pirelli World Challenge title in 2015 to prototypes at Le Mans without climbing a few mountains, and I take a lot of confidence from the talent and spirit of the people we’ve put together for the next summit.”

DragonSpeed has had considerable success in the sports car ranks since it was founded in 2007 by Julian.

Among the team’s accomplishments in the sports car ranks to date include winning the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge GTA championship and the 2017 European Le Mans Series LMP2 crown.

DragonSpeed will continue competing in the 2019 World Endurance Championship, including the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 1000 miles at Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Follow @JerryBonkowski