Two of the IndyCar Series' less heralded teams, Pacific Coast Motorsport and Rubicon Racing are expected to confirm that they will launch a joint assault on the 2009 season.
Neither team managed to contest a complete campaign in 2008, with former Champ Car stalwart PCM running a limited programme with Mexican support for Mario Dominguez and Rubicon appearing only in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 - where veteran Max Papis crashed in an attempt to make the cut for the blue riband event.
Faced with not even making it to the grid this season, the two operations are reported to have been in merger talks that would allow the appearance of at least one car, although official confirmation of a deal remains pending.Indianapolis Star
columnist Curt Cavin, however, claims that an agreement has been reached between the two teams, although several details - such as sponsors, personnel and schedule have yet to be determined.
"Rubicon and Pacific Coast have officially merged, although they have not finalized sponsorships to determine how many races they'll participate in," the writer's blog entry for Friday revealed, "Therefore, they have not signed a driver, although they want a veteran and have targeted [Buddy] Rice."
The story confirmed that Rice was unlikely to return to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, where he spent a frustrating 2008 season, and could 'replace' both Dominguez and Papis in the combined Rubicon/PCM set-up.
Clearly among the more talented IRL racers of recent seasons, Rice also has the benefit of being able to attract backing, having run with Roll Coater and Dad's Root Beer backing at D&R last year.
"Robbie Buhl made it pretty clear that Rice won't be returning to D&R and, after some digging, I think it's fair to say the most likely scenario would be to put Rice and Rubicon in the same sentence," Cavin insisted.
The veteran reporter also reinforced suggestions that former Ganassi and Foyt driver Darren Manning could return to the series on a limited basis, having lost his seat in the ABC Supply Co car to Vitor Meira, running the road and street course rounds in Sarah Fisher's team.
Fisher is committed to four of the season's oval races with Dollar General backing, but would not be expected to feature on the roads and streets that make up an increasing portion of the schedule, while Manning brings experience of such courses from his European racing background.
An alternative sponsor would be required for Manning to run, however, although Fisher has admitted that she is in talks to bolster the team's finances.