With an unexpected opportunity to make its third appearance at the Indianapolis 500, DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian says his team is keen on returning in 2023 and rejoining the paddock it called home on a part-time basis in 2019 and 2020.
Aligned with Cusick Motorsports to run Stefan Wilson, the plan is for DragonSpeed to contest the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship race at Mid-Ohio on May 15, make the four-hour drive west to the A.J. Foyt Racing shop in Indianapolis, get a few hours of sleep and begin transforming the No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing Chevy that will be driven by Tatiana Calderon at the GMR Grand Prix on May 14 into Wilson’s No. 25 Chevy on Monday the 16th and hit the Indianapolis 500 on the 17th for the start of practice.
From fitting Wilson to the car to converting the chassis from road course to superspeedway specification to applying a new wrap, the workload will be immense. And once the Cusick/DragonSpeed team has run the 500-mile race on May 29, planning will begin for Julian’s outfit to contest the 2023 Indy 500 and a few other rounds, if possible, just as it did a few years ago.
“This is the first step to getting back to IndyCar, which we never wanted to leave,” Julian (pictured above) told RACER. “We were signed up for six races in 2020 — we were in the paddock at St. Pete, ready to go, and then the pandemic hits, the lockdown hits, and like half the races we were going to do were gone and it all went . I feel like having gone in the first time the hard way, by not collaborating and having learned our own path, I feel like now, internally, we’re super capable of picking up where we left off, but with all the knowledge that came from having to figure it out ourselves. So now, I’m able to keep my foot in the door with the series which, for me, is skyrocketing as far as quality in every way.
“I feel we belong here, where you can build the squad and find the resources and whittle away at your program and try to move forward step by step. I don’t have all the answers on how at this point, and sports cars will continue to be our main thing, but we definitely want to be back here next year. Even if it’s only for Indy.”
Julian credits the recent news from NTT IndyCar Series owner Roger Penske regarding the extended lifespan for the Dallara DW12 chassis as an inspiration to acquire a car for DragonSpeed’s future use.
“When we sold our Dallara and IndyCar stuff to Mike Shank , immediately, I did ask myself the question of whether we would ever want to get back into the series,” he added. “But the question mark remained on how much longer this stuff, the DW12, would be good for.
“This is the confirmation from Roger that it’s safe to buy a car, safe to invest in the materials. Because you feel like not only can you run it for a while and you won’t be replacing it tomorrow, but you also know that somebody will always need a car, which makes having one a good move for business.”