Cindric: “Long List” of Drivers for Final Penske Acura DPi Seats

Photo: IndyCar

Team Penske President Tim Cindric says there’s a “long list” of drivers they’re sorting through to finalize the remainder of the lineup for its Acura DPi program, following confirmation of its first two drivers this week.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron were announced on Tuesday as co-drivers for one of the team’s Acura ARX-05 entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which will debut in January’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

While no timeline has been established in finalizing the final two full-season seats, plus endurance drivers, Cindric said they have plenty of leading candidates to work with in the process.

“I think as we look at things, from our end, understanding that the next car and the endurance drivers, there’s a long list of drivers on both of those fronts that we’re sorting through,” Cindric said.

“We wanted to be able to put out a lineup to start with as far as once we knew what one of our lineups was, instead of waiting to have everything put in place.

“We wanted to get these guys out there and make sure that they’re focused on the next steps.”

Speculation has run rampant that three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves could make the switch to full-time sports car racing next year.

However, questions have arisen whether the Brazilian, who is currently in a championship fight, could turn his back on a full-season IndyCar return should he win the title.

Cindric, meanwhile, wouldn’t indicate whether Castroneves would be part of the team’s Acura lineup, even in an endurance driver capacity. 

“Obviously we’re trying to keep him focused on the last four races of that championship,” he said.  “That’s kind of where his head is right now. 

“For us to speculate, it’s probably a little too early for that.”

While Pipo Derani, who has re-signed with Tequila Patron ESM for 2018, had been another name associated with Penske and Acura, it’s understood Ricky Taylor is a likely candidate for one of the remaining seats.

It would result in the second-generation driver, who currently leads the Prototype championship alongside brother Jordan, leaving his family’s operation, in what would be a second vacancy in a Cadillac DPi-V.R for next year.

Taylor tested Penske’s Dallara DW12 IndyCar at Homestead earlier this year, having received high praise from both Cindric and Roger Penske. 

While Cindric wouldn’t comment on any further driver speculation, he stressed there’s no rush to finalize the remainder of the lineup.

“There’s no set deadline at the moment,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to get the right lineup rather than trying to push things out too early or setting deadlines for ourselves.”

With Cameron locked into his contract with Action Express Racing through the end of the WeatherTech Championship season, Montoya will be handling he majority of the team’s initial testing and development with the ORECA-chassied car. 

Cameron said he expects to begin testing the Acura DPi following October’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans

“Obviously Juan will take on the brunt of the testing here while the other guys either become available or finish up what they’re doing or what have you,” Cindric said.

“Our plan, depending on how fast everything comes together, is to hit the racetrack before the end of the month. So hopefully we’ll be able to achieve that.”

25 Comments

  1. Bandit

    August 16, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    My thoughts are Castroneves (if he wins the title, if he doesnt, I expect him back in Indy until he wins it) and Taylor in the other car, with Ben Hanley and probably a former LMP1 driver, alex lynn, or rayhall as the endurance drivers

  2. Kyle

    August 16, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Give the people what the want. Give us Eversley.

    • Joel

      August 17, 2017 at 10:49 am

      +1

  3. JPIZZLE

    August 16, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    How about Brendon Hartley? Not a better prototype driver out there.

    • NASCAR/DPs Suck

      August 16, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      Good call, Porsche’s done in P1 and I can’t see him wanting to be a GT driver or even worse-an FE pilot.

      • Travis McBee

        August 16, 2017 at 4:40 pm

        He did Dubai because he wanted to try a GT out, he won the race and he loved it.

    • Matt

      August 16, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      I’d be very surprised if any of the current Porsche drivers end up anywhere but a different Porsche program. They’ve already stated that all drivers will be kept and moved around within the company.

  4. Psychlops924

    August 16, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    So I talked to both of the Taylor brothers at Utah this weekend. I asked Ricky about how the IndyCar test came together and he said it was purely a brakes test at the Homestead Road Course, that Penske wanted someone who was familiar with the track and familiar with carbon brakes (the new IndyCar brakes are carbon, and the DP’s were using carbon brakes for a few years).
    I know there’s all this speculation about him leaving, but just based on our 5 minute conversation, I didn’t get that feeling. But I could definitely be wrong, we’ll see.

  5. Tenkamenin Crowder

    August 16, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Jensen Button and Fernando Alonso would be perfect

    • Otto

      August 16, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      Alonso and Button a dream team

  6. Mike C

    August 16, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    I like that guy “Andrew Lott” that they talked about on MWM today

  7. jrw

    August 16, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Scott Mclaughlin, the thunder from (sort of) down under.

  8. Slideshow Bob

    August 17, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Let Helio come run the endurance races if Button doesn’t land at Penske and have Ricky Taylor partner either Richard Bradley, Loic Duval, Rene Rast, or bring back Romain Dumas. Another option would be to go for Anthony Davidson if Toyota pulls out of WEC. Pagenaud in the other endurance seat, obviously.

    I assume if Ricky goes to Penske, WTR will replace him with Alex Lynn full-time? Any of the guys I mentioned above would be fun to see in Angelelli’s old endurance seat @ WTR.

    Also, AXR filling Dane Cameron’s full-time seat with Albuquerque isn’t a bad idea, but you’d rather have Conway full-time if Toyota goes away. Another thing, I wouldn’t be upset if Barbosa/Fittipaldi were given endurance seats and the #5 came to Daytona with a fresh pair of full-time pilots.

    • Anthony Thomas

      August 17, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      Castroneves is bloody fast. I don’t know if you remember but back when Penske ran the Porsches they ran an extra car for Briscoe and Castroneves at Petit Le Mans.

      They ran away like jack rabbits and won the race easily. That’s why Helio loves this high downforce IndyCar, it suits him down the ground.

      I would personally like to see Helio win his championship.

      On your other thoughts, I don’t think Toyota is going to pull out, it’s fairly inexpensive for time to win and even if competition is weaken a Le Mans win is a Le Mans win, nobody can take that from you.

      If they pull out it won’t be until then and likely next year is there best chance against weaken competition.

      I expect by 2019 there would have been some serious shake ups in sports car and indycar.

  9. Toddy

    August 17, 2017 at 1:34 am

    Why in the world would Penske want the less talented of the 2 Taylor brothers?
    I guess Wayne would be willing to let him go for an upgrade though?

  10. JamieR

    August 17, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Surely give Jenson Button a seat. Alongside Rayhall or one of the Mazda guys.

  11. Blaneysellstrashbags@Ring24

    August 17, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Suspect that Derani signing with ESM signals that Helio is planning to stay with Penske and take the DRi seat. Otherwise I think Penske would have gone after Derani. Penske is gonna want drivers who are up to speed in a big downforce car already and need little or no learning curve.

  12. Grand Am Fan

    August 17, 2017 at 8:49 am

    What about Scott Pruett? He is widely considered the greatest prototype driver ever.

    • pruetthasbeenoverratedforalongtime

      August 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

      “widely” would include more than you thinking he is the greatest prototype driver ever.

      Not hardly, not even close.

    • Grand Am Sucked

      August 18, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Dude! Not as quick as he used to be. Even he admits that.

  13. Boca Diecast

    August 17, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    How about a young American??? Tristan Nunez? He has stuck with Speedsource through the whole development process and now that Joest is running the show it looks as if they may replace the current drivers.

    • Anthony Thomas

      August 17, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      I think most of the Mazda drivers are going to get a shot with Joest, I would say brush up on your German.

      Remember while talking about prototype seats is fun, it’s only two new cars, and six possible seats.

      The growth will come in GTLM and GT-D actually because I expect both Honda and Lexus to go all-in. IF not in the WeatherTech then in Blancpain.

      I feel sorry for Hindy and Daily Sportscar because they bet heavily on the WEC succeeding as a LMP1 format series.

  14. Bowtie

    August 19, 2017 at 5:04 am

    Renger van der Zande!!!

  15. Sol Shine

    August 20, 2017 at 11:18 am

    My bet’s on some kid called Cindric getting a shot sooner rather than later.

  16. Silvia Odete Morani Massad

    September 5, 2017 at 12:08 pm

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