Left off the original entry list for this year's Indianapolis 500, there's a chance Michael Shank will be able to make his IZOD IndyCar Series debut as an owner after all in 2012, with the MSR Indy team and driver Jay Howard (LEFT).
Howard's management team tweeted Monday afternoon, “We will have @JayHoward66 in this year's #Indy500! With our sponsorship in place, @MichaelShankRac awaits to receive an engine program.” Shank's management group followed, “Some @IndyCar News coming from @MSRIndy shortly.”
Later Monday that all became official, with Shank filing an entry for Howard. While the MSR Indy team has a DW12 chassis, it does not yet have an engine contract.
"Filing the entry is just the first step for us," said Shank, who oversaw his team's victory in the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona. "We have the sponsor package in place, and we believe Jay (Howard) is the kind of driver who could really shine in the 500. The challenge remains for us to acquire the right to utilize a engine to practice, qualify, and race in the Indianapolis 500. We look forward to making everything final, and will be making announcements regarding the program when appropriate.
"Entering the Indianapolis 500 is something I've been working on all my life, and this is a day I've been thinking about ever since stepping out of an Indy car and retiring as a driver," he added.
Shank was hoping to make the grid at St. Petersburg after being the first team to announce it would run with Lotus engines, but a deal to actually accrue a Lotus powerplant never materialized – nor did a much discussed potential link-up with Paul Tracy for a potential full season effort.
As Monday's Indianapolis Star report indicated Lotus appears set to release two of its teams, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport, from its engine contracts, the potential of more Indianapolis-only Lotus runners could come to fruition.
Howard, who was pulled from the car his rookie attempt with Roth Racing in 2008, then had his time withdrawn and failed to bump back in 2010 for Sarah Fisher Racing, was finally able to make his own 500 debut last year in a Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry in partnership with Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
“We've worked really hard to put the sponsorship in place and look forward to receiving an engine to compete this year,” Howard tweeted later Monday.