Jay Howard is looking to return to action in the Verizon IndyCar Series next year for the first time since 2011, after signing up with Bryan Herta Autosport to drive the #97 entry in the Indianapolis 500 on May 24.

"There are no words that can describe how happy I am for this opportunity," said Howard, originally from Basildon in Essex but now living in Indianapolis. "The entire BHA team from Bryan, BBM, the guys in the shop, they all have the same determination and passion to win as I do, so it is a perfect fit."

"Although this is early to announce an Indy 500 entry, we wanted to put this exciting news out right away," said BHA team co-owner and former IndyCar racer Bryan Herta.

Howard won the Indy Lights championship with Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2006 but has never been able to get the break he needed to get into the senior US open wheel series on a full-time basis. He ran five races with Roth Racing in 2008 and four with Sarah Fisher Racing in 2010, while his final appearance in an IndyCar event to date was in the doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway in 2011 when he was reunited with Sam Schmidt.

He was also entered in that year's season finale at Las Vegas with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, but the race was subsequently cancelled following a fatal accident involving Dan Wheldon.

In all, Howard has made four attempts to make it onto the Indy 500 grid but was successful only once in 2011, when he qualified in 20th position but suffered a tyre issue early in the race and finished in 30th. He had previously been due to make his maiden appearance in the event in 2008, but after passing his mandatory Rookie Orientation Program he was replaced in the car by John Andretti.

Howard subsequently attempted to qualify for the race in 2010 but was one of the drivers bumped from the grid during qualifying, and in 2012 he was unable to take to the track at all after Mike Shank's fledgling team MSR Indy failed to secure an engine contract in time.

This time around, Howard's bid to make the starting grid for the 99th running of the Indy 500 will be with the team that won the 2011 race with Wheldon. His car will have primary sponsorship from Green1, manufacturers of environmentally-friendly alternatives to traditional petroleum-related cleaning and degreasing products.

"I have personal knowledge in what a unique industry changing technology Green1 is, and piloting the car for the Green1 alliance will be an honour," said Howard. I am also on board in doing my part, by sharing my knowledge and helping make the world a better, safer, cleaner, place."

"We have been using Green1 in our shop for years now and believe in the quality of the product as well as the performance and safety it gives us," added Herta.

"Green1 decided to invest in the BHA Indy Car team and selected the historic Indianapolis 500 race event platform for several reasons," explained Green1 founder Ray Drysdale. "The track boasts the largest solar farm of any sports venue in the world, the race cars run on 100% renewable fuel, it is the largest single day sporting event in the world and, BHA is a proven Indy 500 event winner and Bryan Herta along with Jay Howard are high class, high integrity individuals."

The team will announce further sponsorship in due due course, Herta added. "We will be working closely in the upcoming months with the team at Green1 to seek additional partners who share Green1's vision and core values to expand this program to additional races and venues with Jay at the wheel."

Also yet to be announced it who will be driving BHA's full-time #98 entry next season, after last week's confirmation that Jack Hawksworth is leaving the team following a successful rookie year with BHA to take up a new seat at AJ Foyt Racing alongside Takuma Sato.

"We're putting all the pieces together, and we've got a lot of the pieces done, a few that aren't," said Herta on Monday. "I'm quietly confident we'll have the program we want next year for the #98."



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