Former Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran is ready to get out of the cockpit and back into the IndyCar Series _ but as an owner, not a driver.
The 41-year-old said Friday he will retire as driver of his American Le Mans Series team at the end of the season so he can focus on the business side of his de Ferran Motorsports program.
"I fulfilled my objectives behind the wheel and now my sole focus is going to be on continuing to develop and expand the team," de Ferran said.
That expansion could include a return to IndyCar.
De Ferran, who won the CART title in 2000 and 2001 while driving for Roger Penske, retired from the open-wheel series in 2003 just months after capturing the Indy 500. After establishing his ALMS team as one of the series' best, he's ready for a new challenge and considers IndyCar the next logical step.
"Expanding to IndyCar is a natural and my background is mostly in IndyCars, it's a sport I understand well," de Ferran said. "But you need a team in the right places. I think because of my capacity for the sport, it was a unique position to understand what kind of mix to make it a competitive proposition."
The financial hurdles, however, don't seem to be a deterrent. De Ferran is already asking around to see who might be interested in driving for him on the circuit he once dominated.
De Ferran already has a working relationship with defending IndyCar series champion Scott Dixon, who raced with de Ferran at the Twelve Hours of Sebring earlier this year.
Asked if Dixon was on his wish list, de Ferran just sighed and said "that'd be nice."
De Ferran returned to racing in 2008 and has quickly helped Acura's program become one of the top in ALMS. He and teammate Simon Pagenaud have won three straight races heading into Saturday's race at Mid-Ohio, where de Ferran captured the pole on Friday.
Though he still enjoys racing and hopes to end his career with a season championship, de Ferran said he may be spreading himself too thin trying to divide his time between the track and the office.
"It's getting harder and harder to balance the demands of the business has on my time and my focus," he said. "Sometimes it's not time, it's focus and the demands driving has on my time and my focus, particularly with this Acura P1 car. You've got to be all there and in good shape. Otherwise it's a real struggle."