Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Is Indy NXT the right path to Indy Cars?

And how will Penske Entertainment rightly promote it’s product…


Otay, it was a little while ago, which is how I roll here in Nofendersville…


“Read”, Err listened to an interesting story on my Newsline ESPN Online Motorsports News telephone news feed written by Racer’s Marshall Pruett, whose apparently made the “big time!”


As Marshall was expounding upon the growing FIA Formula 2 drivers contingent making their way into IndyCar, with their career pathway to thee Pinnacle ‘O Motorsports, nee Formula 1 essentially stalled or blocked.


Pruett notes how former Alpine F1 Academy member Christian Lundgaard led the charge when making waves during His IndyCar debut on the IMS road course during the summer of 2021.


Lundgaard was followed by Callum Ilott, a former Ferrari Academy driver, Alfa Romeo F1 reserve driver and FIA Formula 2 Championship runner-up to Mick Schumacher in 2020. As Ilott began His IndyCar career with Juncos Hollinger Racing’s (JHR) three race West Coast “reboot” at 2021 season’s end.


Marcus Armstrong was another Ferrari Academy member, partnering Ilott. And spent His rookie FIA F2 campaign as Lundgaard’s teammate at ART Grand Prix in 2020. And then for 2022, He partnered Juri Vips at Hitech Grand Prix.


Armstrong just completed His rookie IndyCar campaign driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, as a Twisties’ Only “specialist” enroute to winning the Rookie Of the Year category ahead of Augustin Canapino.


While Juri vips was a Red Bull Junior Team member, along with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri F1 reserve driver. With the Estonian scoring two wins and six podiums during His rookie 2021 F2 campaign, before partnering His former Formula 4 teammate for a partial 2022 F2 season, which I’ve already scribbled about previously on No Fenders in the following post.


All four former FIA Formula 2 drivers have won races in this single seater category, with F2 being akin to Indy NXT, i.e.; final step on ladder series.


As Lundgaard made 49 F2 Starts; winning two races wit nine podiums and one Pole position, with a best season finish of seventh Overall in 2020.


As noted above, Ilott finished runner-up in 2020, making a total of 47 Starts over four seasons. Scoring three wins, eight podiums and six Pole positions.


Armstrong contested three full seasons of F2 and clamed four wins, four podiums and two Pole positions. Ironically while driving for three different teams, i.e.; ART, DAMS and Hitech, He finished 13th Overall all three seasons.


As Pruett notes how the current Formula 2 chassis are very similar to Indy Cars and that the European Championship has the added bonus of requiring Pitstops during races, which Indy NXT doesn’t. Hence with the lack of Ovals in F2 vs. NXT’s meager two small Oval tracks, i.e.; Iowa and Gateway. IndyCar team owners are more willing to take a shot on F2 drivers these days, who tend to pick up Oval racing relatively quick.


And while all four of these drivers have competed against each other, with three being teammates at one point. To date, only Lundgaard’s won an IndyCar race, when the Dane’ stormed to victory Up North in Toronto this July. Scoring Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s first IndyCar win in over three years.


Thus by my rudimentary math, this quartet will Arse-sumedly make up roughly one sixth of next year’s IndyCar grid. Since I’m guessing that Vips will become Lundgaard’s teammate aboard the No. 30 RLLR entry for 2024…


Whilst technically, I believe Thars still a total of seven IndyCar seats still in “Play” for the likes of Andretti, Carpenter, Coyne, Foyt, Juncos and RLLR. Although I’d like to think that Vips has the RLLR seat as already noted. And that both Santino Ferrucci and Augustin Canapino return with A.J. foyt Enterprises and Juncos Hollinger Racing (JHR) respectively. Since what’s the point of IndyCar going to Argentina without Canapino, eh?


Meaning another current 2023 Formula 2 driver could potentially make His way across thoust Bloody Puddle next year, into one of the remaining seats…