As RACER first reported on Friday, Bryan Herta's Barracuda Racing IndyCar squad has elected to stand down driver Alex Tagliani, effective immediately. In a statement, the team reiterated its long-held plans to expand to a two-car team next year, and explained the change as an opportunity to evaluate new drivers and gather additional feedback about the car. First up will be a test at Mid-Ohio next week for longtime GP2 front-runner Luca Filippi, although former Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand is also under consideration.
"We're taking this opportunity to evaluate our program as we look toward the future," said team owner co-owner Bryan Herta. "It makes sense at this point to look at the available pool of drivers that may fit into our future plans. We want to thank Alex for being a team player during the process and we look forward to seeing what Luca can do during the test in Mid-Ohio."
Tagliani currently is ranked 21st in the drivers' championship while the team is 23rd in entrants' points, running the risk of finishing the season outside the top 20 and thereby missing out on the lucrative Leaders' Circle payment.
Tagliani said he understood the team's action.
"It's never fun for a driver to not be in the car," said Tagliani. "But I see the benefit in racing in a team with a teammate as opposed to being a single-car team. In this sport, things can turn around quickly."
Filippi, who was in line for an IndyCar drive at Rahal Letterman Lanigan last year before the deal was quashed by a lack of funding, said that he was excited by his opportunity.
"I've been working and waiting for a chance like this my whole life," said 27-year-old Filippi. "I can't wait to test the car and hopefully make the most of this opportunity to learn first-hand about IndyCar racing."