INDIANAPOLIS — Motorsport is reporting that Felix Rosenqvist won’t be retuning to Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021. He will instead team with Pato O’Ward at Arrow McLaren SP in replacing Oliver Askew.
While I get some may think that this is out of left field, by what Rosenqvist told me a few weeks ago, I’m not too shocked.
“I’m on a 2 year contract so it’s up in the air,” Rosenqvist told me. “Everything looks good though.”
But, what is a bit odd is that he’s leaving a championship contender for a team that’s will be at their second year in the sport though.
The 10 car was great before CGR expanded to a four car team. Then, Dario Franchitti’s stats started slipping. After that, he was severely injured in a 2013 crash which forced him to retire. Tony Kanaan stepped in for 2014 and he struggled. Kanaan, had one win in four seasons as Dixon’s teammate. In 2018, Ed Jones was hired as Kanaan’s replacement. Jones, in just one season in that car, had just two top five finishes and only eight top 10’s.
From 2014 through 2018, the 10 car had one win, 17 top five finishes and 49 top 10’s. Dixon meanwhile, had 11 wins, 46 top five finishes and 66 top 10’s in his 9 car.
In 2019, rookie Felix Rosenqvist was hired to replace Jones. It would mark the third straight year that Dixon had a new teammate in that 10 car. Rosenqvist, was the breath of fresh air that CGR has needed. They need someone challenging Dixon for wins and pushing him harder.
Heading into 2020, the last time a CGR driver not named Scott Dixon had won an Indy Car race was the 2014 season finale. Dixon needed some help. He needed setup help from a second car. He needed another car to challenge the Penske’s and Andretti’s up front. It was Dixon vs. 3-4 Penske’s and 3-4 Andretti’s for wins.
Rosenqvist brought it. He won Rookie of the Year in 2019. He won his first career race back in July in Road America.
Now, for the fourth time in five years, we will have a new driver in that car. Who are the best options?
If I were Ganassi, I’d wait to see how the Penske and Andretti situations play out. Does Penske have Scott McLaughlin drive for them in 2021? Is it in a fourth car or is he replacing Will Power? If Power is out, Ganassi has to take a look there.
Then, what does DHL do with Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay?
The easiest and most likely solution is placing Jimmie Johnson there with a partner for the ovals.
NTT Data is a full season sponsor on the 10 car. This closes the chapter on finding a sponsor for him. He can jump in there and team someone like Tony Kanaan and allow the team to hire another driver or two with funding.
Juan Pablo Montoya
What a good spot for JPM to end his career at. He started with Ganassi in CART in 1999. He won the championship after scoring seven wins in his rookie season. He was back in 2000 where Ganassi took him to Indy and he won that race as a rookie. He won 11 times in 41 starts in open wheel with Ganassi. Then he bolted to F1. After six years there, Ganassi brought him back over, this time to NASCAR. But, Penske lured him away for an INDYCAR return. After a few years in sports cars, why not make another INDYCAR return to Ganassi?
Castroneves has said that he wants a full time INDYCAR return. What better place? Penske plucked JPM away a few years ago. Why not Ganassi returning the favor?
This could be an interesting fit. RHR’s future with Andretti comes down to sponsorship. Does DHL return? Well, what if RHR just goes to a fully funded car at Ganassi? There were rumors that RHR could end up at Ganassi or even Penske years ago but chose to remain with Andretti. He may not make that same decision a second time.
He tested this car. They’re searching for a sponsor for 13 road/street courses. Well, they may have found one with this car being fully funded. Maybe they just put Johnson here and see if they can get another driver or two to bring funding with them.
He tested a Ganassi car in the past and has the potential for a rising star. Maybe a swap between he and Rosenqvist?
Why not here?
“I have no contract yet,” VeeKay told me in Indy. “I hope I can make sure I have one as soon as possible. I haven’t really talked to him (Ed Carpenter). My management takes care of that to make sure I focus on the racing. Once that is done I can jump in on that.”
VeeKay said that the Indy pole certainly helps his cause for 2021.
“I just want to drive INDYCAR next season full time,” VeeKay said. “Having a pole helps that. I think we’re doing all fine for next year and we’ll we on where we’ll drive and how it goes.”
Imagine what he could do in a Ganassi seat.