INDIANAPOLIS — The dominoes keep falling in INDYCAR silly season. Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing shored up their lineup last month. Andretti Autosport followed suit. That’s led to where we are on Wednesday – Kyle Kirkwood to AJ Foyt Racing.
The chips fell from Andretti not purchasing an F1 team, which left Colton Herta Stateside. With Romain Grosjean already signed back in September and Devlin DeFrancesco signed last week, it didn’t leave any room for Kirkwood at the Andretti inn.
Without the proper funding and way to get a fifth car out of the shop full time again, it left Kirkwood to pursue other opportunities.
He found one.
Foyt can take on the scholarship money and has funding in place to allow him to run full time. He’ll do so on a one year deal.
So, what’s left? Before you figure out what’s left, it’s best to break it down by manufacturer and here’s why.
Expansion is definitely on the horizon for the paddock in terms of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season. We’ve only lost one team from 2021 and that’s the No. 22 Chevrolet from Team Penske who will see the organization move from four back to three cars next year. That’s their sweet spot and ideal position that they’d prefer to be in anyhow.
So, in terms of full time entries from 2021 to 2022, we go from 24 down to 23 by this move. That’s the lone demotion. The rest are all additions. Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing grows from two full time cars to three. Meyer Shank Racing will go from one full time car to two. Juncos Hollinger Racing will be full time now.
That’s three new full time cars so take the one going away at Penske and you get 26 full time entrants so far. The question now is, how many more will we get?
I tend to think that at the moment, we’re basically capped at 36 cars/engine packages. In 2021, each manufacturer had 18 engines provided. With new regulations coming out in 2023, I don’t see either planning to spend the amount of money that it’s going to take to expand on that to 19-20 or even more engines available.
So, while the intention is out there for several teams, I just don’t see how it will work to grow the entry list past 36 total cars next year on the engine front. Then you have the demand for people too. There’s just not enough good crew members, engineers, etc to hire. The good ones are already on teams and the ones who aren’t will soon be.
So, while there’s drivers and sponsorship money out there for the taking, how do you start a new team without the right people to make that car go fast and an engine to make it run?