Call this subtraction by addition. Via their Facebook page, Vision Racing has just announced that driver Ryan Hunter-Reay has been, uh, loaned(?) to AJ Foyt's team for the remainder of the year.
Considered a win-win situation for all involved, Vision Racing driver Ryan Hunter-Reay will be taking over piloting duties of A.J. Foyt’s ABC Supply entry for the remainder of the 2009 IndyCar season beginning at next weekend’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway on June 20-21.In the respect that Vision had a driver without a sponsor (personal IZOD contract notwithstanding) and Foyt had a car without a fulltime driver (Vitor Meira's recovery notwithstanding), perhaps this can be considered a "win-win" situation...except for the fact that it's a NET LOSS of an entry for the remainder of the year.
Here's how Vision owner Tony George explained the reasoning behind the handing of Ryan to another team.
“We knew there would be challenges bringing Ryan (Hunter-Reay) on board at such a late juncture, but we did so knowing the benefits it would have to our program on the long term,” explained Vision Racing owner Tony George. “My commitment remains with keeping Ryan Hunter-Reay in the series and with Vision Racing for the long term. We had high hopes that we’d be able to attract the primary sponsorship necessary to continue through the course of the season and into the future. While those efforts have been rewarded with some positive developments and opportunities which we are actively pursuing and developing, it did not provide for the short terms needs and our ability to ensure a successful program for the balance of the season.”The obvious thing that jumps out is that in so many words Mr George is saying "We thought we might get some sponsorship for Ryan, but we didn't, and an extra car is pretty darn expensive." Now, people can spend all day bleating about how millionaires are supposed to spend their money, but most millionaires try not to be in the business of losing money for any extended period of time. No one wants to see the car count creep down any further, but if downsizing the team allows George and his peeps to focus on finding sponsors for the league instead of a single car that would eventually be a "win-win" I suppose.
Mr George is, we are led to believe, on a tightened budget these days.
The other thing that struck me was that Mr George made certain to show his "commitment" to Ryan "for the long term", which gives every indication that he wants to have him back with Vision Racing in 2010. Of course, if there is no sponsorship next year then Ryan's position becomes not much different than Alex Lloyd's for the past few years as a rideless driver on the payroll, but I suppose it's the thought that counts. Especially if IZOD is going to continue to bombard us with that same commercial over and over and over.
"Everything gonna be all right...hehe..." We can only hope.
ADDENDUM: Foyt's press release on the subject clarified any possible conflict with their current convalescing driver.
Meira is expected to return for the final race of the season in October, when, if he has recovered fully from his injuries, Foyt will run two cars at Homestead-Miami Speedway.