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IndyCar: Dale Coyne confirms initial driver line-up

Dale Coyne Racing will field Carlos Huertas and Francesco Dracone for the first four races of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Dale Coyne Racing has finally unveiled its driver line-up for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

The announcement that Carlos Huertas and Francesco Dracone will be taking the two available race seats came at Barber Motorsports Park, as the IndyCar teams and drivers gathered for the pre-season open test. It's the first public test session featuring the new bespoke aero kits from Honda and Chevrolet.

Huertas was one of the team's two drivers in 2014 and picked up a maiden win in his rookie season by taking the chequered flag at the first of the year's doubleheader races in Houston. The team announced on Monday that he would be retained for a second full season in 2015.

"I am very happy to be back with the team this year," said the 23-year-old from Bogota, Colombia. "I expect to have a better year than last year because I obviously have the experience of a full season and winning a race last year. That helped a lot for my confidence for this year."

"Carlos surprised everyone last year with his performance," said team owner Dale Coyne. "The effort the team has made over the winter, as shown by our Sebring test with Carlos, gives us confidence for the upcoming season."

Coyne also confirmed that Francesco Dracone would take charge of the team's #19 entry for the first four races of the season. The 31-year-old originally made his IndyCar début in 2010 with two races for Conquest Racing.

“Francesco shows great enthusiasm for our sport,” said team owner Dale Coyne. "We look forward to working with the rookie in preseason testing and early races as he looks to IndyCar for his future."

"I've been seeking this opportunity since the very day after Conquest,” said Dracone, who also tested with Dale Coyne Racing in 2013. “I tried last year but they had a great driver in Justin Wilson. This winter we talked again and it seems feasible to run at least four races."

Both Huertas and Dracone were present at Barber to participate in the open test. "It's great being here picking up the pace again with the IndyCar at this new circuit for me. It's just exciting," said Dracone.

"It's important to be here today and be part of the IndyCar Series," continued the Italian, who has been competing in the Auto GP World Series for the past four years. "Testing is essential with the standards and level of the IndyCar Series. It's great to have two days in a row to get started.”

Dracone's deal puts him in the seat for the races at St Petersburg, New Orleans, Long Beach and Barber, but doesn't extend to the year's two races at Indianapolis in May at this point.

The news that Huertas and Dracone have signed for the team seemingly confirms that Coyne has decided to part company with long-time lead driver Justin Wilson, who was present at Barber on Monday networking with other potential employers.

"It's kind of frustrating walking around and seeing all the cars and there's not one to jump in, but that's where it's at sometimes," said Wilson, who will compete in this weekend's 12 Hours in Sebring for Michael Shank Racing.

"I'll just continue to work on things and see what I can put together in the future. I'm pretty sure I'll be in an IndyCar sometime this year. I just don't know when or how yet."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Carlos Huertas waits on pitlane prior to the start (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Francesco Dracone sits in his Honda machine prior to the Open Test session at Barber Motorsports Park on Monday March 16 2015 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) celebrates at Laguna Seca
Kyle Kaiser - Juncos Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing crew working on the boss` car   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Justin Wilson tribute at Pocono   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Firestone tyres during Indianapolis test   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Ed Jones - Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]
Josef Newgarden - Ed Carpenter Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Shawn Gritzmacher]
Josef Newgarden - Ed Carpenter Racing [credit: Chris Jones]
Carlos Munoz celebrates his first IndyCar pole at Texas Motor Speedway
Spencer Pigot - Ed Carpenter Racing
Sebastian Bourdais (KVSH Racing) celebrates in Detroit   [image creid: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Sebastian Bourdais - KVSH Racing   [image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]

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