Dale Coyne Racing has announced that Carlos Huertas will not be competing for the team in the #18 entry this weekend in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The 23-year-old Colombian driver, who clinched an upset win for the team last season at Houston, has been expected to compete in all 16 rounds of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

The team did not give any explanation for the change which came very much at the 11th hour with the first practice session just hours away. Huertas finished last week's race at NOLA Motorsports Park in 16th place.

Related Articles

However, Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star subsequently posted a message on Twitter stating that "Coyne told me Huertas is a possibility for #Indy500. He said Carlos isn't racing here 'for business reasons.'"

In the meantime, Huertas' place in the team has been taken by Rocky Moran Jr., who will be making his first IndyCar appearance this weekend after a long history in the Toyota Formula Atlantic series from 200 to 2005 where his contemporaries included Ryan Hunter-Reay, Joey Hand, Alex Gurney, and Jon Fogarty. He claimed two wins in his active time in the series, Laguna Seca in 2001 and Montreal in 2002

Moran also competed in the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series in 2006 and drove in the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2005, and raced in the GT class of the American Le Mans series in 2011 alongside team mates PJ Jones, Bruno Junquiera and Cristiano Da Matta.

More recently, he also had the opportunity to test an IndyCar with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course in September 2014.

"I can't tell you how excited I am about finally being able to drive an IndyCar," said Moran in a statement issued by the team on Friday. "Dale is a dream maker and I have always dreamed of this opportunity.

"We just need to run a lot of miles, as I am aware of the hill I have to climb, but I love Long Beach and this truly is a dream come true for me," the 35-year-old added, having competed on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach street circuit for the first time back in 2000.

Moran is the son of Rocky Moran Sr, a veteran of 24 IndyCar races including three Indianapolis 500 starts from 1988-1990 and was the winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1993. Father and son partnered on the opening of Moran Raceway in June 2003, a state-of-the-art karting track in Beaumont, California.

For this weekend, Moran will be partnered with former Auto GP World Series Francesco Dracone. The 31-year-old Italian driver spun on pit lane at NOLA and ended up knocking down the team's chief mechanic Todd Phillips who was working as a tyre changer on Dracone's car. Dracone received a $10,000 fine and six race probation for the incident and ended up retiring from the race midway through.

Dracone is currently only scheduled to race or the team in four events in 2015, with Long Beach and Barber Motorsports Park currently his last two confirmed outings with the team. Pippa Mann will join DCR for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 next month.