Wednesday, November 29, 2023

When will IndyCar’s 2024 Silly Season Merry-go-Round End?

And who’ll be the final contestants to land the few remaining seats next year?


Yeah, like Ye proverbial broken record, here’s another No Fenders story late to thoust party…


As I went into a momentary Funk over Riccardo Juncos torching Callum Ilott, and didn’t feel like scribbling anythingy’ for awhile… So forgive me if some of this news has already been posted on No Fenders. Since I cannot remember where I left off upon Silly Season news.


As this is just what I tend to recall timewise, loosely Y’all…


Team Penske

Starting with the easiest, as Team Penske’s current three driver lineup remains unchanged for 2024.


Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR)

Although suppose it should have become apparent the longer the season rolled on. With Cheep’ making little progress on retaining Marcus Ericsson. With Alex Palou renigging upon His planned move to Arrow McLaren next year by staying at Ganassi. This allowed the flood gates to open at CGR. Jettisoning Ericsson paved the way for hiring Out in the Wilderness 2022 Indy Lights Champion Linus Lundqvist as Ericsson’s replacement. Along with elevating thee “Other” Marcus, i.e.; Marcus Armstrong to Full season status next year.


As the only curious move for Mwah, albeit Cheep’s not gona say NO to the money! Is the premature elevation of CGR IndyCar Development Driver Kyffin Simpson to an IndyCar drive a year early…


As Ganassi will field an unheard of five Honda entries for 2024, anchored by reigning IndyCar Champion Palou, perennial title Contendah’ Scott Dixon and Armstrong being joined by the two rookies Lundqvist and Simpson.


And the more I think about it. It seems Cheep’s move to nab a fifth Honda engine lease early was predicated upon His not wanting to lose out upon the one remaining “floater” Honda engine lease that was currently available…


Meyer Shank Racing (MSR)

The team’s first driver announcement really came as no surprise. As Bad Arse MSR Sports Car Ace Tom “the Bomb” Blomqvist was confirmed to replace the departing Helio Castroneves in it’s No. 06 entry. As Hulio’s subsequently taken on a minority ownership role along with being the team’s third “One Off” Indy 500 Only entry next May.


And then the wheels literally came off Simon Pagenaud’s season (and career?) during a brake failure incident at Mid Ohio! For which we’re All Ah-Waitin’ Pagenaud’s return to the cockpit…


And with the uncertainty of not being retained by Arrow McLaren for a third consecutive year. Felix-the-Cat’, nee Felix Rosenqvist signed to pilot the No. 60 entry as Pagenaud’s replacement, giving MSR an all new lineup for 2024.


Andretti Global

With Ganassi’s lack of keeping Marcus Ericsson, and the Swede feeling wanted by Mikey A’ and Company. Not to mention becoming a paid IndyCar driver – reportedly for $4 million! Ericsson replaces the departing Romain Grosjean, while we wait to find out if the team keeps it’s fourth Honda entry next year?


As the most likely scenario for this seems to center around Brian Herta rejoining IndyCar as a team owner, joined by  Beth Paretta and Tatiana Calderon as their driver…


Yet with the lack of news, I suppose we should have guessed it was trending this way? Since on November 13th Andretti Global made it official they’d only be running three IndyCar drivers next year, i.e.; Colton Herta, Kyle Kirkwood and Ericsson. And dropping their fourth entry they’ve run since 2004.


Yet Racer’s Marshall Pruett recently stated that the fourth Andretti Honda engine lease is separate from Andretti Global’s downsizing, and that they still hold the fourth engine lease. Which Honda’s contractually obligated to provide to Andretti if they so choose to run either a satellite program, be it with Bryan Herta and Company. Or in some sort of partial season program in-house or possibly with an Affiliate?


Arrow McLaren

It’s already been well documented over Alex Palou deciding to not become McLaren’s newest IndyCar signing for 2024, for which a furious Zakery Brown has filed an insane lawsuit against the Spaniard!


Which I chronicled for Y’all in my Oh, so Clever Halloween post about Indy’Car’s ultimate Cage Fight…


Thus the team found itself scrambling to find a replacement driver for it’s No. 6 entry and settled upon sophomore Dale Coyne Racing driver David Malukas. As Malukas is a good choice, albeit I don’t know if He’s Championship material or not?


And although I don’t expect Malukas to give Pato O’Ward a run for His money. It’ll be interesting to see if Malukas can give Alexander Rossi Fits and push Him for the team’s no. 2 driver status? Since I think Rossi will need to up His game significantly to remain at Arrow McLaren.


As this is where I’d like to see Callum Ilott ultimately wind-up at in 2025, in a fourth McLaren IndyCar entry. As what a potent team that would be!