Target Chip Ganassi Racing has not yet begun to zero in on a replacement for Dario Franchitti in the No. 10 IndyCar Series entry but managing director Mike Hull recently told RACER that the team has been in contact with "probably 50 legitimate people."
In the meanwhile, Alex Tagliani will test the car during a Dec. 4 test at Sebring International Raceway in South Florida, which will see all four Ganassi teams put their new Chevrolet anchored programs through its paces.
The most high profile driver search of recent memory was mandated by the sudden retirement of the four-time IndyCar Series champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Franchitti, who was injured in a crash during last month's Grand Prix of Houston.
The accident began when his car made contact with another and sent Franchitti into the catchfence on the final lap of the race.
Tagliani replaced him on an interim basis during the final race of the season at Auto Club Speedway and he is believed to be one of the options to drive the No. 10 car next season.
Hull told RACER in the Nov. 26 story that the driver who replaces Franchitti will either be a "very experienced driver" or one selected from a shootout where several drivers take turns piloting the car to allow the team to compare data.
As author Marshall Pruett points out in his story, shootouts for a vacant seat are nothing new for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, as they most famously pitted Jeff Krosnoff and Alex Zanardi against each other in a test ultimately won by Zanardi the off-season prior to the 1996 season.
The duo would go on to win 15 races and two CART championships together.
A similar scenario could play out this winter according to Hull, and the team has been in contact with at least 50 legitimate drivers.
"The total number of people that somehow or other have been contacted or we've been in contact with - I'd say probably 50 legitimate people," Hull said in the story. "I use the word 'legitimate' meaning people who would be qualified to drive an Indy car. Fully qualified.
"The global response that we have, I've been amazed about, quite honestly. There's some really what I consider to be very talented people that have reached out, and it's an odd situation."
Hull conceded in the story that if they were to take a European or Formula 1 driver and place him into the No. 10, there would be a steep learning curve involved. He cited the endurance factor of IndyCar racing as the primary reason why.
"Our guys, with their workout program, they work out on the cardio side but they also workout on the physical strength side that then allows them the endurance they need to drive the racecar," Hull said. "Our cars are heavier, they run without power steering and they require muscles, real muscles to operate at the highest levels."
Lastly, Hull says it is much too early to decide on what direction he and team owner Chip Ganassi will go, primarily because there are a variety of needs that must be addressed in regards to a potential replacement.
"I think there are a lot of talented drivers out there and there are a lot of purists, IndyCar purists, that want you to hire an American driver," Hull said. "A lot of IndyCar purists feel that you should give somebody an opportunity that has shown their work, but hasn't really been in the right car yet.
"And there's some people that just enjoy the fact that the best racers in the world should be driving the best racecars."
And that doesn't even take into consideration how that potential driver would fit in with teammates Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and defending IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon. Who do you think should drive the famous No. 10 Target car next season? Give us your explanation in the comments section below.