Team owner Michael Shank hopes that his MSR Indy team will be at next month's Indianapolis 500, and is handing British driver Jay Howard the opportunity to take the race seat provided that the squad secures an engine in time.
“Filing the entry is just the first step for us,” admitted Shank, who earlier this year saw his GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series team take victory at the the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
“We have the sponsor package in place, and we believe Jay is the kind of driver who could really shine in the 500," he continued. "The challenge remains for us to acquire the right to utilize a engine to practice, qualify, and race in the Indianapolis 500."
The team have a Dallara DW12 chassis ready to go. Although MSR Indy is thought to have a customer engine deal in place with Lotus, it is holding out for a deal with either Honda or Chevrolet before confirming the Indy 500 run.
“Entering the Indianapolis 500 is something I've been working on all my life, and this is a day I've been thinking about ever since stepping out of an Indy car and retiring as a driver,” continued Shank.
Last year, Howard qualified in 20th place and ran as high as seventh in the Indy 500 before being hit by a right-rear tyre issue and exiting the race before the midway point. He's clearly hoping for better in 2012.
"Competing in my first Indy 500 last year was a dream come true,” he said. "We've worked really hard to put the sponsorship in place and look forward to receiving an engine to compete this year."
There's only a few weeks for the deal to come together to put Howard out on the track again before on-track preparations begin at Indianapolis.
As the provisional entry list for the Indy 500 had already been published, Shank's late filing would need to be approved by IZOD IndyCar Series officials before it became official - but that appears to be just a formality.
"I'm confident something positive will happen,” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard was quoted as saying on Monday. "He's put together a good team and has a good driver and we'd love to have them on the track and ready to qualify for the 500."
"We look forward to making everything final, and will be making announcements regarding the program when appropriate," Shank added.