INDIANAPOLIS — For the second straight year, Dale Coyne Racing lost a talented driver to a bigger team. Last year, Alex Palou came over to the States to drive the No. 55 Honda. He produced a podium and three top 10’s in a season that saw him finish 16th in points. What he did at Indianapolis in August 2020 though led him to a seat at Chip Ganassi Racing for 2021. He’s in turn won the championship in his first year at the helm.
Palou, was replaced by Romain Grosjean for the 2021 season. That car was rebranded with Rick Ware Racing as a partner to the No. 51 Honda. Grosjean, honestly had better stats. The Frenchman scored a pole, three podiums, two of which being runner-ups and six top 10’s. He was 15th in the points and that’s after missing three races, one of which being double points in the Indy 500. With those stats, DCR lost him and his engineer to Andretti Autosport.
That move will signal that this will likely be the third straight year that they’ll have a new driver lineup as Ed Jones isn’t likely coming back to the No. 18 Honda either. All signs are pointing to this car having a new partner with HMD Racing instead of Vasser-Sullivan and having David Malukas as their driver.
For all the drivers that Coyne has gone through, he’s proving his business model is working and helping the sport. He’s giving drivers extra chances to prove something that they may not have otherwise gotten. With his equipment being the way that it is, it’s allowing these drivers to showcase their talents and lead to even better endeavors in the sport.
Coyne could be bitter about that fact, but he’s honestly cherishing every opportunity he gets to help promote great drivers to the top of the line teams. Plus, look at how he’s surrounding his teams with partnerships with team entries as well as businesses with sponsors. You can make fun of DCR all you want, but they’re making it work.
That’s now led a driver of Takuma Sato’s caliber to them. A former F1 driver who’s won two Indianapolis 500’s, both in the last four years to race for them. Sato was named as the driver of the No. 51 Honda on Thursday.
Gone are the days of “TBA” on the entry list only to be named a few hours prior to the race weekend beginning. They now have drivers like Palou, Grosjean and Sato piloting their cars the last three years. That’s a strong lineup.