Eleven-year IndyCar veteran Ryan Briscoe is enjoying newfound interest in his services after posting a series of strong stand-in performances at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports over the second half of the 2015 season.
The Australian stepped in for the injured James Hinchcliffe at the Indy 500, contested eight races for SPM, was in the mix to win at Fontana, and captured four top-tens, including an impressive run to fifth at the final round in Sonoma.
With a few IndyCar teams looking to add an additional car, and others considering a change with their primary driver, Briscoe’s manager says the 33-year-old is on a few shopping lists for 2016.
“There appears to be a lot of interest in Ryan from IndyCar teams right now,” Wayne Taylor told RACER. “I’m happy he’s reestablished himself as someone who can run at the top, but I can’t speak on where the interest lies. He made a good impact this year after a tough 2014.”
Whether it was chemistry issues or other unidentified problems, Briscoe’s return to the Ganassi fold in 2014 did not go as planned, and they parted ways at the conclusion of the season. As his open-wheel options diminished, Briscoe signed to drive for the factory Corvette Racing IMSA team at the endurance events for 2015, and opened his account by winning the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s two most prized races.
Victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January was followed by a win at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, and with the unexpected call from SPM, Briscoe started last at Indy and marched his way to 12th at the finish – third among the 17 Hondas in the field.
Briscoe’s career rebound has come at a perfect time, and while his skills would suit an IndyCar team looking to improve its fortunes, it’s also believed the 2012 Indy 500 polesitter is being courted by more than one sports car team.
Several IndyCar teams have solidified their lineups for 2016, including news of CFH Racing re-signing Josef Newgarden, which leaves the Honda-powered Rahal Letterman Lanigan team as a prime candidate to acquire Briscoe as a teammate for Graham Rahal, provided the budget can be found. AJ Foyt Racing is also considering its options after a disappointing season with both of its Honda-powered drivers. Despite missing half the season, Briscoe managed to finish 18th in the championship—directly behind full-time Foyt driver Jack Hawksworth, and four positions behind Foyt veteran Takuma Sato.
A return to SPM would also make for a strong effort, but with Hinchcliffe preparing to drive the No.5 car next year, the team would need to find a full budget for Briscoe to continue.
On the sports car front, it’s believed Briscoe’s main choices involve American muscle. Continuing with Corvette Racing is an option, but it’s also known the incoming Ford GT program, which is run by Chip Ganassi Racing, could take Briscoe off the market.