Some people just can't stay away from the Indianapolis 500, even when they are actively engaged elsewhere, leading to some interesting names already being linked to the action at this year's 'month of May'.

While former race winner Gil de Ferran may be little more than an interested spectator this season, he has given the biggest hint that his successful American Le Mans Series team may find its way into the IndyCar Series in the future.

The 2003 race winner, de Ferran returned to the cockpit with an Acura prototype in last season's ALMS, and will continue in the owner-driver role this year following de Ferran Motorsports' graduation to LMP1 with the latest Acura. However, the Brazilian has admitted that he is also eyeing a possible return to the IndyCar Series, where he drove for Penske Racing in 2002 and 2003.

"I don't see me driving an IndyCar again, but this is all about the team really," de Ferran, who runs promising Champ Car refugee Simon Pagenaud in the ALMS, said. "It's really not about me reliving the dream as a racing driver. That's not to say that I'm not enjoying driving the car, but the most important thing - or my priority - is making the team a success with me behind the cockpit or not.

"I would certainly like to grow the team and given my, to say the least, emotional ties with IndyCar racing, I would love to run an IndyCar at some point in the future."

Elsewhere, Speedway stalwart - and 1996 winner - Buddy Lazier has revealed that he hopes to make his 17th career start at the Brickyard this May, if the sponsorship can be pulled together

"No, they're not finalised yet," Lazier said of his plans, "The economy is difficult, so there's a lot of guys in my shoes looking and trying to put deals together, but I certainly look forward to having another opportunity at the Speedway."

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk will definitely be at the famed venue this May, meanwhile, having been contracted as driver coach to rookie Robert Doornbos and Milka Duno at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

"Robert is a rookie on the ovals," Luyendyk said of his fellow Dutchman, "but he won a couple of races in Champ Car a few years ago, so he doesn't need much coaching there. Milka started running last year, or maybe the year before, at Indy and I think it's a good idea for her to have me as a coach."

Perhaps the biggest name that could return to the IRL at Indianapolis right now, however, would another man, like de Ferran, to have recently moved into team ownership. Like the Brazilian, Tony Stewart continues to drive, albeit in NASCAR rather than open-wheelers, but 'Smoke' admits that he will never completely close the book on the 500, however tough it would be to return.

"I've learned to say never say never," he smiled, "I retired from open-wheel racing once and it wasn't about three months later that I realised that that was the dumbest thing I had ever done.

"You learn to say never say never. I don't know what will happen, but the good thing is I have a plan for what we're going to do life beyond being a driver. We will still have our race tracks and we want to have our race teams as long as possible. I really enjoy that side of it. I'm still having a lot of fun being a driver to and that's what I love the most.

"However, as much as my heart wants to say yes [to doing the Indy 500 again], my mind says no. There's a lot more responsibility now being a car owner, and the logistics of it still make it impossible to do. When they moved the start time of it back two hours, the logistics of being able to complete the 500 and get down to Charlotte on time to start the [Coca-Cola] 600 meant you can't do it.

"I've learned to never say never, but unfortunately that is probably a chapter in my life that's passed. I've chosen my path, especially being a car owner in this series now, so I doubt that it will happen."



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