Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Lights Drivers Lost in the IndyCar shuffle

And why did Penske Entertainment ridiculously Slash the Annual Indy Lights Champions Advancement Prize Fund?


As Laguna Seca seems a really long time ago now, eh? Y’all know when Sophomore Indy Lights Driver Linus Lundqvist was Crowned this year’s Indy Lights Champion. Having scored seven Poles, five victories and nine podiums during the season’s 14 events. Finishing with nearly a 100 points advantage: 575-483 over series Runner-Up Sting Ray Robb.


Third Overall was Mathew Brabham, followed by Rookie Hunter McElrea and Benjamin Pedersen rounding out the Top Five.


As Lundqvist and Pedersen both effectively drove for HMD Motorsports. Albeit Lundqvist piloted one of the HMD with Dale Coyne Racing entries, and Pedersen drove the Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports entry. respectively.


Robb led the Andretti Autosport Quartet, followed by Mattie B’, (Brabham) McElrea and Cristian Rasmussmen, who finished sixth Overall.


Brabham and His Rookie teammates McElrea and Rasmussen All scored two wins apiece, with Robb, Pederson and HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing’s Danail Frost All claiming their maiden Lights victory.


 Why do I bring this up? Whale’, I was fairly certain (before going on Holiday) that the top three finishers were All guaranteed an post season IndyCar test, for which I don’t believe has occurred? Unless I missed thee Memo while away on my three weeks Sabbatical. Whilst the series Champion was supposedly guaranteed a three race IndyCar Dealio’, including the series Mack Daddy event, the Indianapolis 500 thanks to His $1.25-3 million prize!


Although that was before I learned that Penske entertainment Had Slashed Lundqvist’s prize amount by nearly two thirds to a Paltry $500,000!


Which may be is why I Haven’t Heard anything about the Top Three Finishers getting their Championship rewards! Not to mention Penske Entertainment just Hoping to Quietly Sweep this Underneath Ye proverbial Rug…


Yet Racer’s Marshall Pruett recently wrote about Lundqvist’s struggles to find and ultimately land a Fulltime Big Boyz’ IndyCar ride for 2023, which now makes more sense to me! Not to mention it’s Sad that Lundqvist thinks He needs to stay Silent over His unexpected Funding Cut by Penske Entertainment upon Fulfilling His part of the Agreement!


With Marshall noting that effectively Thars’ just three potential Full season Gigs’ available, with the most coveted being the fourth chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) seat that ‘Ol JJ’, nee Jimmie Johnson’s inhabited the past two seasons.


But that fourth CGR drive requires a massive Budget which Lundqvist Doesn’t have. And although current Team Willy’, nee Williams Racing F1 Driver Nicholas Latifi’s being Coy about his destination for next year, Odds seem to favour Latifi landing the ride. Especially after Marshall recently noted on one of His Week in IndyCar Podcasts, Cheep’ (Ganassi) Doesn’t Pay for Drivers! They come with Full Budgets instead…


And it seems Ditto for the expected second Juncos Hollinger Racing (JHR) No. 78 ride, implying once again that Linus Doesn’t have enough Dinero’ to be Callum Ilott’s teammate next year…


Thus to Mwah, it appears the most possible scenario would be Lundqvist “ride Sharing” the Vanna I wants to Buy a Vowel! Dale coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing’s, ergo Coyne Ware Racing’s No. 51 with Takuma Sato. With Taku-san’ running an Ovals only programme and Lundqvist being it’s “Twisties” Specialist. Although this would require HMD/DCR/RWR to run a third IndyCar at Mother Speedway. Or possibly four, since Coyne & Co. typically run a third “One Off” entry already.


Although Marshall seems pretty steadfast that Coyne and Company will have a new Full season Driver in it’s second No. 19 entry with Sato in a third Ovals Only No. 51 entry.


As Here’s what I scribbled on No Fenders some threes years ago about the Curse of being an Indy Lights Champion in Indy Cars.


And while the verdict’s still “Out” upon last year’s Dominant Lights Champion Kyle Kirkwood, who’ll  Arse-sumedly have a much better Sophomer season with Andretti Autosport. It’s worth noting that 2019 Lights Champion Oliver Askew is long gone from the IndyCar lanscape! While the 2020 Lights season was cancelled due to COVID-19.


By my Spur Ye Cuff run thru the impending 2023 IndyCar Grid, I quickly came up with the following 11 Drivers, Uhm maike that 12. Damn, I keep Adding more as I think about it. Although I’m currently stuck on the number 12.


As I’m fairly certain these IndyCar Drivers have previously raced in Lights, which I’m listing in Team order, beginning with A.J. foyt Enterprises Rookie Benjamin Pederson. Followed by Colton Herta, Kyle Kirkwood, Devlin DeFrancesco, Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, Scott Dixon, Conor Daly, Rinus VeeKay, Helio Castroneves, Jack Harvey and Josef Newgarden.


Whilst Simon Pagenaud and Graham Rahal came from the Champ Car Atlantic ranks, and I’m only focusing upon Full season Drivers…


Meanwhile, Marshall also noted that Taku-san’ would like to do one more Full season, which would obviously cause problems for Linus. Whilst FIA Formula 2 Driver Marcus Armstrong’s name seems to be most mentioned regarding drivers looking for a seat in Indy Cars, especially since He reportedly Has $4m (million) in pocket! And Danail Frost, who finished seventh in Lights this year, just impressed when testing for Coyne in their IndyCar. So who knows who’ll fill the final three seats?


But it would be a Shame if Lundqvist is forced to race next year in Sports Cars instead of getting a proper chance in IndyCar! Seeing the Age Old criteria of One’s Budget mattering More than the Driver’s talent!


And if Lundqvist does end up in Sports Cars, then Hopefully He’ll at least be in a GTP entry.