The Indianapolis 500 has its 32nd entry in the form of a new partnership between Rick Ware Racing, David Byrd, Brian Belardi, driver James Davison, and Dale Coyne Racing.
After recently informing the DCR team it would not be able to move forward with a third entry for Davison due to a significant coronavirus-related downturn in business, Byrd was pleased to receive an outreach from Coyne, who wanted to see if a deal could be salvaged.
“Dale called me again last Friday and asked if we could do this, and we put together something I was capable of doing, in part, within my finances, so I got on the phone with Rick Ware and said, ‘Let’s go do Indy,’” he told RACER.
“Brian Belardi is part of this as well — our third year working together on an Indy 500 entry — and think he can do a lot of big things if Roger Penske keeps pushing the Indy Lights initiative. So, I started working on all I could; nobody’s getting rich off this, and we all got together to run James.”
Byrd and Davison have been working with Ware’s NASCAR Cup team in 2020, which made the collaboration easier to pitch to the former Trans Am driver who also fields a prototype in the Asian Le Mans Series.
“After James ran the Pocono Cup race in the Spire car, which is actually a Rick Ware Racing car, he talked with Rick at that race and there was some interest in doing more than the 11 or 12 races in Cup,” Byrd added. “I had fully put Indy aside, knew it wasn’t going to happen for us, but this came back together quickly.”
With Davison’s active Cup schedule, Byrd hopes to keep the Australian busy over the August 15-16 weekend.
“James has been enjoying his racing this year, and if there’s no hiccups in Indy 500 qualifying on Saturday, and we can get the car solidly in the show, he’ll run the Daytona road course Cup race on Sunday,” he said.
Finally, the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing and Byrd Belardi Honda is, to Byrd’s amusement, not the longest team name in the Indy 500.
“We still have one co-entrant to add, but we’re still not the longest entry name,” he said of the car sponsored by Jacobs Construction. “That belongs to the No. 98 Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti and Curb-Agajanian Honda!”
With 32 car and driver combinations in place, only one more entry is needed to maintain the tradition of fielding 33 starters for the Indy 500. It’s unclear whether a 33rd entry will come forward without some form of series or manufacturer assistance prior to the start of practice on Wednesday, August 12.