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2012 IndyCar grid taking shape

Many of the race seats for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series have now been snapped up, leaving those drivers without a deal scrambling for the few remaining openings.
With more driver signings being confirmed by the week, the remaining openings on the starting grid for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar season are the focus of increasingly desperate attempts to land a race seat for those still lacking a contract - including several big names.

Here's how the starting grid is looking early in February:

Fully confirmed line-ups

Ganassi: The Ganassi line-up remains the same as it did in 2011, with Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti returning to the 'top tier' Target Chip Ganassi #9 and #10 cars, Graham Rahal back in the #38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing car and Charlie Kimball once more back in the #83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing seat. All four cars will be running Honda engines.

Team Penske: Penske will also be fielding an unchanged line-up, despite some uncertainty toward the end of 2011 that a lack of sponsorship might force them to slim down to a two-car line-up that might have forced Ryan Briscoe out of the squad. Instead, Briscoe is now confirmed back in the #2 with Helio Castroneves in the #3 Penske car and Will Power running the #12. All three cars will be powered by Chevrolet engines.

Bryan Herta Autosport: After the team's shock victory in the 2011 Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon, BHA will be hoping Alex Tagliani will be able to pick up the driver's baton in the #98 in their first full season back in IndyCar. They have the edge of having been involved in the summer testing of the new Dallara DW12 chassis and will be relying on Lotus engine power for its single-car line-up.

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing: Sarah Fisher's team has found a new co-owner to replace the backing of departed long-time sponsor Dollar General, and celebrates with new talent behind the wheel in the form of Firestone Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden in the sole #67 car. The team says that an engine agreement is in place, but it has not yet been announced.

Ed Carpenter Racing: Sarah Fisher Racing's 2011 driver Ed Carpenter gifted the team their maiden win in the final completed race last season at Kentucky, but then confirmed he was leaving to set up his own squad co-owned with former IRL chairman Tony George. Unsurprisingly, Carpenter will be at the wheel of the team's sole #20 entry, but the make of engine is still to be confirmed.

All seats filled, possible extra seats to be added

Andretti Autosport: Despite a disappointing 2011 season as a whole for the team, Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay both claimed race wins and are back in the line-up for 2012 in the #26 and #28 cars. Danica Patrick and Mike Conway have both departed, leaving the mantle of the "Go Daddy Driver" now in the hands of Canada's James Hinchcliffe in the #27 car. A fourth car is possible, with team boss Michael Andretti putting the odds at 60%. The team are switching to Chevrolet engines for the upcoming season.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports: After working hard in 2011 in test sessions and as a "super-sub" stand-in, French supercars star Simon Pagenaud is finally ready to start a full season in IndyCar with the Honda-powered Sam Schmidt squad. Pagenaud will be in the #77 car; SSM were initially optimistic about putting together a second car to partner Pagenaud for the year, but the odds on that are said to be declining by the day.

AJ Foyt Enterprises: Mike Conway claimed his first race win in IndyCar in 2011 at Long Beach, but after that the season at Andretti Autosport proved something of a damp squib. He'll be hoping that a change of scene and the support of racing legend AJ Foyt will get him back to the podium now he's in charge of the #14 ABC Supply car powered by Honda. It's currently the team's only entry in 2012, although a second car has been mooted.




Related Pictures

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The field head down to the first corner at the start of the Edmonton Indy. [Photo credit: Daniel Incandela for IndyCar Media]
The field lines up in double-file down the start/finish straight. [Photo Credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Will Power (inside) and Graham Rahal (outside) go into the tight turn 1 at the start of the race. [Photo Credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Takuma Sato leads a crowded field into the first corner at the start of the Edmonton Indy. [Photo credit: Daniel Incandela for IndyCar Media]
Justin Wilson resplendent in the Rolling Stones livery for the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda in pit lane on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson resplendent in the Rolling Stones livery for the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda on track on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti and Sage Karam at IMS (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start on the outside of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pagenaud will be joined in the front row by by polestar Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest for the May 24 race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start in the middle of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Power will be joined in the front row by pole sitter Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates after qualifying fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Takuma Sato at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice on Friday May 15 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud on track in the Penske #22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice on Friday May 15 2015. (Photo by: Mike Harding for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud waits in the Penske #22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice on Friday May 15 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud climbs into the Penske #22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice on Friday May 15 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Pippa Mann heads back out on track after repairs to her car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice on Friday May 15 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Grace Autosport team launch announcement at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 15 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Grace Autosport team launch announcement at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 15 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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