Photo: Walter G. Arce, Sr./ASP, Inc.

Ben Hanley to Compete in INDYCAR Opener at St. Petersburg

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

DragonSpeed confirmed Monday that they’ll be entering its No. 81 10 Star Chevrolet, piloted by Ben Hanley, at the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 15.

The 34-year-old British drove three races last season with those being St. Peterburg, Barber and the Indianapolis 500 with only an 18th in their NTT IndyCar Series debut being their best result.

With some experience in the series, Hanley said the team vibe is a lot different than last year because they’ve had time to be more prepared as according to RACER, they’re planning to run double the amount this season.

“I can’t wait to get back in the No. 81 machine for another crack at St Pete,” Hanley said. “After the thrash required just to make it to the track last season, we’re coming back in a much more settled situation. I don’t know if we can repeat the combination of luck and timing that put us 12th on the grid in 2019, but we will be much better prepared this time around and should be stronger throughout the weekend.”

Team Principal Elton Julian said keeping Hanley for a second year and compete at St. Pete once again will further help the team head into the right direction.

“The continuity represented by having Ben in the car at St Pete is a real boost, and for the fifth year in a row he remains the lead driver across all of our programs,” Julian said. “That said, the realities of life as a young IndyCar team might see us running other drivers at the same level as Ben, perhaps with more IndyCar experience, during the year. But committing to Ben as the test and race driver for the launch of our 2020 effort is clearly the best way to get our season off to a strong start.”

Due to their part-time status, Julian admitted they haven’t had the opportunity to test their Dallara chassis with the newly mandated Aeroscreen like other teams have had who are competing in all 17 rounds.

“We haven’t had the head start of some teams in testing the new IndyCar Aeroscreen and are pushing hard to get it in time to maximise the limited track testing allowed to us as a part-time entrant, while making some time in between for data analysis and shaker rig testing,” Julian said.

Not only DragonSpeed be focusing on its INDYCAR program, they’ll be competing the entire IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign in the LMP2 category.

Last year, they won the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Roberto Gonzalez, Pastor Maldonado, Sebastian Saavedra and Ryan Cullen contributing to its triumph in the four-car category (finished sixth overall).

The Indianapolis-based team were fastest in last weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 and aim to repeat January 25-26 with Hanley running in the race as part of a six-race deal.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a three-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.