Published April 23, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Michael Shank Racing has filed an entry for Jay Howard to run the Indianapolis 500.
The team said Monday it has the sponsorship in place for the May 27 race, but is still trying to put together an engine program.
"Filing the entry is just the first step for us," said Shank, who formed the MSR Indy team last October with NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger and Ohio businessman Brian Bailey.
Shank had wanted to run a full season of IndyCar this season, and purchased a new Dallara DW12 chassis in January. The team had initially announced itself as a partner with engine manufacturer Lotus, but Lotus has struggled to meet demands, and Shank was never able to receive an engine.
Between not having an engine and sponsorship difficulties, the plan to run popular veteran Paul Tracy for a farewell season never materialized.
But Lotus could be able to give the team an engine for the Indy 500, after all. The manufacturer is expected to decrease its workload by granting Bryan Herta Autosport and Lotus DRR a release from its contracts.
But Shank could also be trying to get an engine from Chevrolet or Honda.
IndyCar still must approve the Indy 500 entry, but Shank is hopeful to get everything in place.
"We have the sponsor package in place, and we believe Jay is the kind of driver who could really shine in the 500," Shank said. "The challenge remains for us to acquire the right to utilize an engine to practice, qualify, and race in the Indianapolis 500. We look forward to making everything final, and will be making announcements regarding the program when appropriate."
Howard, from England, won the Indy Lights championship in 2006. He's raced in 12 career IndyCar events, none this season, and made his debut in the Indianapolis 500 last year. He ran as high as seventh, but finished 30th in part because of a right-rear tire issue.
"Competing in my first Indy 500 last year was a dream come true," Howard said. "We've worked really hard to put the sponsorship in place and look forward to receiving an engine to compete this year."