Dale Coyne has revealed that Graham Rahal is his number one target as he looks to replace Justin Wilson in his line-up for the 2010 IndyCar Series season.
Rival outfit Dreyer & Reinbold Racing revealed yesterday that it had agreed a deal with Wilson and sponsor Z-Line Designs for the upcoming campaign, leaving Coyne to look for a new driver for his team for the season ahead.
The first choice now would be Rahal, who currently finds himself without a deal for the year ahead despite a strong season with Newman Haas Lanigan Racing, while a number of younger drivers are also under consideration.
“Obviously Graham Rahal would be our first candidate, for both his speed and the image we'd want to portray for the #19 car,” Coyne told Racer
. “Graham's a proven winner who matured a lot as team leader at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing last year.
“If I were to put a second name out there, I'd say JR Hildebrand. He's Indy Lights champ, and I know he'd shine in the big cars. If [Atlantic Series champion] John Edwards or [runner-up] Jonathan Summerton had Indy Lights – particularly, oval – experience, I'd add them to the list.”
While he admitted that Wilson's decision to move over to DRR had been a surprise – with a two-year deal having been on the table – Coyne added that he wished his departing driver all the best for the new season.
“I talked with Jim Sexton [CEO and founder of Z-Line] last Friday and understand why he made the switch,” he said. “I wish to personally thank Jim and Monica Sexton for their support over the past two years. The new relationship and media aspect are great opportunities for Z-Line and their new partnership with Charter Communications and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
“Of course, I'm also sorry to lose Justin. Last year's race at Watkins Glen was unforgettable, and I want to thank him for making Dale Coyne Racing one of only three teams to score a win in the IZOD IndyCar Series. You never forget your first time, right?!”