INDIANAPOLIS — The rides are starting to dwindle in the NTT IndyCar Series for 2022. There’s really only six full time opportunities left now. Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan joined the teams of announcing their full plans with Jack Harvey’s unveiled to be taking over the No. 45 Honda two weeks ago as well as Christian Lundgaard’s in the No. 30 Honda on Tuesday. Also, with Sebastien Bourdais taking over a full-time IMSA ride with Chip Ganassi Racing as well as some testing taking place at Barber Motorsports Park next Monday, Silly Season is starting to really heat up as we inch closer to a close on it.
RLL is solidified (Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey, Christian Lundgaard), all operating on multi-year deals. So has Team Penske (Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Scott McLaughlin), Meyer Shank Racing (Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves) and Juncos Hollinger Racing (Callum Ilott).
Andretti Autosport has Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi back so much as Herta doesn’t bolt to F1 next season. They signed Romain Grosjean for the No. 28 Honda and all signs are pointing to Devlin DeFrancesco for the No. 29 Honda now. Chip Ganassi Racing will remain status quo (Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Kanaan). The only thing here is, does Johnson move to full time which means they need a fifth car for Kanaan. Does that car become a full time fifth entry and Kanaan drive full time, does he go part-time still on all ovals and bring in a part-time road/street course driver, or just part-time only for TK.
Arrow McLaren SP will have both Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist back. The third car will likely be full time in 2023 and if they can line it up, will be part time in 2022. Nico Hulkenberg is testing it on Monday but the team is adamant this is a one time deal with nothing planned past this. Ed Carpenter Racing will have Rinus VeeKay back full-time in 2022 with Ed Carpenter racing on the ovals. The road/street course car is open.
Dale Coyne Racing, Rick Ware Racing, Vasser-Sullivan Racing and Carlin holds the keys for the rest. The only open full time rides at this moment are with AJ Foyt Racing (No. 4, No. 14 Chevrolet’s), Carlin (No. 59 Chevrolet), Andretti Autosport (No. 29 Honda), and the two at Dale Coyne Racing (No. 18 and No. 51 Honda’s).
That doesn’t count anything new or part-time but most of those rides are either called for or have workings already in place behind the scenes.
The free agent list is a talented one to choose from. With RLL going with Lundgaard, that leaves both Santino Ferrucci and Oliver Askew on the sidelines with both not having full budgets. James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and others are still on it who are more than talented enough to land something.
Free Agent List
Devlin DeFrancesco (linked to Andretti)
Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti isn’t letting him get away for obvious reasons)
David Malukas (Has HMD funding – linked to DCR, ECR or Foyt)
Max Chilton (Carlin or Foyt)
Sebastien Bourdais (Foyt or 5th Ganassi car)
Charlie Kimball (Foyt)
Dalton Kellett (Foyt)
Tatiana Calderon (Foyt)
Dan Ticktum (DCR or Foyt)
Ryan Hunter-Reay (down to Foyt, ECR or DCR)
James Hinchcliffe (down to DCR)
Conor Daly (ECR or Carlin)
Kirkwood, has the $1.3-million Indy Lights scholarship money in his pocket but he’s waiting to see what happens with Herta. If he does go to F1, then Kirkwood is the clear easy choice for the No. 26 Honda. If Herta stays, then Kirkwood doesn’t have a lot of options to go full-time. Andretti, doesn’t want to lose him so they can make him part-time. We know Vasser-Sullivan is eyeing expansion to their own entity instead of teaming up with Coyne but that won’t happen until 2023 at the earliest. The thing is, do they stay partnered with Coyne or maybe a fifth Andretti car?
VSR has been linked to Kirkwood on the sports car side and could be an easy place to house him for 2022. I doubt Andretti would want to house him with a rival team at Coyne, so why not figure something out on a fifth car?
David Malukas is also in play because he and HMD want to move up to INDYCAR. If Vasser-Sullivan leaves Coyne, this is an easy fit to slide in and partner up for the 18 car. If that doesn’t happen, a partnership with ECR is also said to be discussed.
ECR is testing Hunter-Reay in their car at Barber on Monday but he and Conor Daly are in the cards for that seat. Does US Air Force return and if so, I think this would remain Daly’s seat.
Rick Ware Racing will be on the No. 51 Honda. I keep hearing this is Takuma Sato’s ride should he want it and I don’t see any other path for the two-time Indy 500 champion to remain full time if he doesn’t take it.
Foyt has two cars open but if Bourdais returns, it will be part-time.
Charlie Kimball, Tatiana Calderon, Dalton Kellett, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Max Chilton, Malukas and even someone like Dan Ticktum all make sense here. I keep hearing Kellett may remain in the No. 4 Chevrolet with maybe a cast of drivers in the 14. Malukas could even team up with Foyt on a third entry as well.
Carlin was shopping their team but doesn’t appear to have been any takers. A partnership now is more likely for their second car which again, Malukas could fit the billing or even one of these European drivers with a budget in hand.
Other than that, this is it.
Honda (15-17 full time)
Chip Ganassi Racing (4-5): Marcus Ericsson, Scott Dixon, Alex Palou, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Kanaan. They’re all back. The only question is, does Johnson run full time?
Andretti Autosport (4-5): Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Romain Grosjean are all there for 2022. Devlin DeFrancesco is tabbed for the 29. What do they do with Kirkwood?
Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing (3) – Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey and Christian Lundgaard.
Dale Coyne Racing (2) – Rick Ware Racing is back on the 51 and Sato is the favorite for that seat. Does the 18 car have Vasser-Sullivan or HMD partnering with it?
Meyer Shank Racing (2) – Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud are there for 2022.
Chevy has room to grow but they’re almost set still – photo Credit INDYCAR Media Site
Team Penske (3) – Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin and Will Power are all back. They’ll scale down a car.
AJ Foyt Racing (2-3) – Both current cars are open and they’re eyeing a potential third.
Arrow McLaren SP (2) – Both drivers are back from 2021 for 2022. Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist each return to their respective seats.
Ed Carpenter Racing (2) – Rinus VeeKay is back in the 21 while Ed Carpenter is back in the 20 on all ovals. Who joins that seat for the road/street courses is the question.
Carlin (1-2) – Max Chilton wants a teammate. If they can’t provide one, he may walk leaving 1 seat open. If they can find one, they’ll expand back to a two-car team.
Juncos Hollinger Racing (1) – Callum Ilott will drive the No. 77 full time in 2022.
Arrow McLaren SP (Chevrolet) – They’ll have a 3rd car at some point next season. Maybe starting at Indy on.
Paretta Autosport (Chevrolet)
Top Gun Racing (Chevrolet)
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Chevrolet) – Indy only?
AJ Foyt Racing (Chevrolet) – Do they run a 4th car at Indy again?
Andretti Autosport (Honda) – How many part time cars show up to Indy? The 98 will likely be back, but what does Ganassi do on a fifth car? That rolls down to how many engines are available for Andretti.
Dale Coyne Racing/Rick Ware Racing (Honda) – We know the 52 car will be back part-time next season. This is the most guaranteed ride on this list.