DragonSpeed confirms Hanley for IndyCar season-opener

David Malsher-Lopez

Elton Julian’s 10Star DragonSpeed-Chevrolet team, which last month confirmed its intention to compete in six of this year’s 17 IndyCar races today revealed that the traditional season-opener in St. Petersburg, FL will also be the team’s first IndyCar round of 2020.

Hanley and DragonSpeed surprised many onlookers with their performances in 2019, starting and finishing 12th on their debut in St. Petersburg and easily making the Indianapolis 500 field on a weekend when McLaren failed to qualify. Indy marked 34-year-old Hanley’s first-ever oval race.

“I can’t wait to get back in the No. 81 machine for another crack at St. Pete,” Hanley told IndyCar.com. “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.”

Said Julian: “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.

“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.

“We haven’t had the headstart of some teams in testing the new IndyCar aeroscreen and are pushing hard to get it in time to maximize 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.”

Motorsport.com understands that the cars testing at Sebring today are using the prototype aeroscreens as delivery of the finalized pieces has been slower than anticipated.