Friday, December 1, 2023

Creeping towards the Conclusion of IndyCar’s 2024 Silly Season

As Who’s left to be included  upon Santa’s Naughty or Nice list?


Yeah, like I said previously. This is just what I tend to loosely recall timewise, stretching deep into the Off-season! And after Callum Ilott’s Firing, Err “Mutual Parting” from JHR, there were five unconfirmed seats with three teams remaining as of Veteran’s Day.


Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLLR)

This is the most confounding driver signing to Mwah. As I still don’t know where Pietro Fittipaldi as Jack Harvey’s replacement in RLLR’s No. 30 came from? Since I thought it was simply a formality before Juri Vips was announced as it’s new chauffeur.


But it appears it was a sponsorship based decision, with the Fittipaldi name carrying vastly more clout vs. Vips. Not to mention Pietro’s Oval experience, and perceived prowess set to help the team solve it’s weakest racing parameter.


And although I thought I’d read that Graham Rahal has re-upped for at least the 2024 season. Racer’s Marshall Pruett said ah Contrair you Silly blogger! Noting how de facto team leader Graham hadn’t been announced publicly yet, albeit I’d say this is just a formality, Wee Wee?


Indeed, RLLR announced that Graham has signed a new multi-year contract extension on November 13th…


Christian Lundgrd returns for at least one more year, with the team signing Vips as a reserve driver. And Bobby Rahal saying He’d like to run the Estonian as a fourth entry in selected events next year.


Along with being RLLR’s “Insurance policy” for either Graham’s retirement or Lungaard being poached by a rival team for 2025. Since Pruett thinks it’s only a formality for Vips to be a Fulltime IndyCar driver then…


Only Problema with running vips next year is where would RLLR”s fourth Honda engine come from? Since theoretically if Andretti keeps it’s four Honda engine leases next year. Then HRC US (Honda Racing Corporation U.S.) is already stretched to capacity with 16 Full-season engine leases.


Thus as previously noted, Andretti still holds the key to it’s fourth engine lease. With everyone waiting to see if they’ll use it in some capacity next year?


Ed Carpenter Racing

Unlike JHR, Fast Eddie’, aka Ed Carpenter gave 2023 ECR No. 20 IndyCar driver Conor Daly His “Pink Slip” during the season, following the Detroit race. With The Dude! Aka Ryan Hunter-Reay replacing Daly for the remainder of the season in an attempt to help ECR fix their wandering ways…


ECR subsequently held an Off-season Shootout between Oliver Askew and reigning Indy NXT Champion Christian Rasmussen to fill the vacated No. 20 seat. And although I’m not surprised. Naturally I’m disappointed that Rasmussen who “won” the drive is only getting a partial season as a “Twisties” Specialist. Along with the third Indianapolis 500 seat next May.


As the 23yr old Dane’ will share the ride with His Boss Ed Carpenter running the Ovals. With ECR shuttering Ed’s No. 33 Ovals only entry.


Rasmussen’s part time status makes me think He’ll be hard pressed to pull off an Marcus Armstrong and win 2024 IndyCar Rookie Of the Year Honours running the Street Circuits and Road Courses only vs. Ganassi’s Full-season rookie Linus Lundqvist…


While “Count Dracula”, aka Rinus VeeKay will pilot the No. 21 ECR entry fulltime in what I believe is the final year of His current contract.


Juncos Hollinger Racing (JHR)

Have already pontificated about the nasty Firing of Callum Ilott in order to make way for Romain Grosjean to fill His seat next year here upon No Fenders

And thus I’m very unhappy with Riccardo Juncos right now, and will be hard pressed to root for this upstart Minnowesqe IndyCar team next year! Other than I cannot wait to “See” what happens when Romain gives Argentine “golden boy” Augustin Canapino the Chrome Horn treatment next year…


A.J. Foyt Enterprises

This is one of the two remaining IndyCar teams that hasn’t solidified it’s 2024 drivers lineup. As both Santino Ferrucci and Benjamin Pederson are considered to be in the “Frame” to remain with the team. But naturally both drivers will need to bring some sort of budget with them.


Meanwhile, we’re All Ah-Waitin’ to see how the new Foyt-Penske technical alliance partnership works out and whether or not this will influence who the team ultimately decides to put behind the wheel of it’s Nos. 14-55entries next year.


As much as I’d love to see Callum Ilott filling a third Foyt entry for a season, before moving onto “Greener” pastures, I Don’t expect this to happen…


Meanwhile, Larry foyt told Pruett that the team’s focused upon retaining Ferrucci in the No. 14 Fulltime next year, but wouldn’t be drawn upon Pederson’s status in the No. 55. With Pruett noting if the most loathed IndyCar driver of last season doesn’t return, then look for a well funded replacement. Meaning Sting Ray Robb, Devlin DeFrancesco or Gasp! Even perhaps Enzo fittipaldi could wind up there?


Although it sounds like Robb has the inside track for the “Double Nickel” #55 seat…


Dale Coyne Racing (DCR)

Pruett also noted in His November 3rd Silly Season update. It’s Happy Hunting Grounds for the Illinois team owner. With Dale having reverted back to His traditional status of being the last to pick ‘n choose and announce who His newest drivers will be. And with two seats available at DCR, the field’s wide open for who’ll land the two coveted IndyCar seats next year.


Sting Ray Robb who drove for Coyne’s No. 51 with Rick Ware Racing entry this season is rumoured to have a significant budget of some $9m available! While former Andretti driver Sparky’, aka Devlin DeFrancesco also has money to bring to the table. With current FIA Formula 2 driver Enzo Fittipaldi, younger brother of Pietro testing an Coyne IndyCar at Sebring in November.


Current Indy NXT driver Jacob Abel tested first for Coyne (DCR) on November 6th, running a single day test. His first outing in an IndyCar. Although Abel’s test was just a familiarization outing, with Jacob planning to continue in Indy NXT next year.


The following day at Sebring, Enzo shared the track with older brother Pietro, with just the two Fittipaldi brothers testing together. With Enzo getting His first taste in an IndyCar. While Pietro reacclimatized Himself to Indy Cars with RLLR after last racing for DCR in 2021…


DCR Development Driver Danial Frost is also a possible candidate for one of Coyne’s Indy Cars. Whilst reigning FIA Formula 2 champion Theo Pourchaire is also interested in racing in Indy Cars.


And that’s before we even get to Messer Ilott’s availability, or Jack Harvey sniffing round…