Where INDYCAR silly season now sits after a wild day

INDIANAPOLIS — I’ve long heard that Rinus VeeKay was going to end up at either Chip Ganassi Racing or Arrow McLaren SP in the NTT INDYCAR Series. AMSP made the most sense with them expanding to a 3rd full-time car and Ganassi likely remaining status quo. Even more so when AMSP announced that Felix Rosenqvist would be under contract with the organization but not necessarily on the AMSP side. He was a McLaren driver which meant he could shift over to their new Formula E program too.

That seemed most likely.

With Ganassi staying adamant that they doesn’t discuss contracts in the press but they’d remain the same lineup in 2023 as 2022, it took Scott Dixon and Alex Palou’s name off the list of candidates.

Or did it.

McLaren announced on Tuesday night, hours after Ganassi announced Tuesday afternoon that Palou would be driving for them. That would leave Ganassi’s No. 10 Dallara-Honda open which would be a shock move.

It would also likely mean Palou will join Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi on the INDYCAR side with Rosenqvist definitely moving to Formula E. That’s the most likely but it’s still fluid as Palou and Rosenqvist could both end up in Formula E or even 1 (Palou) of which in Formula 1.

In turn, that leaves the seat that just won the championship last year open and would be one anyone would want.

Rinus VeeKay is the now top domino in the free agency game in INDYCAR. Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

Since Palou has been in that 10 car, his ride has outperformed Scott Dixon’s by a large margin in fact. In 25 starts in this span, Palou has 3 wins and 13 podiums. Dixon has just 1 win and 6 podiums.

So who gets it?

Unless McLaren buys Colton Herta out which isn’t out of the question anymore, he’ll be back with Andretti in 2023 in his final year of his contract with them. Romain Grosjean and Devlin DeFrancesco return. Kyle Kirkwood takes over for the departing Rossi.

I don’t think Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing does anything differently.

I don’t see many changes in store for Dale Coyne Racing unless Takuma Sato decides to call it quits. HMD and David Malukas will be back with DCR in the No. 18 Dallara-Honda as there’s now rumors of the two sides aiming for a 3rd car under the DCR umbrella. If so, Linus Lundqvist would be the main player for that ride.

How tight as those dealings? Ganassi and Malukas were talking in Mid-Ohio before the race but that could have been anything, even 2024 related if something. Still, Ganassi plucked Ed Jones from that same ride late in 2017 for this open ride now.

Helio Castroneves is a free agent so the No. 06 Dallara-Honda is open, but do they really cut ties with the driver that brought them their lone win so far in the series and a guy chasing Indy 500 history? The question for them is, do they expand to a 3rd car too?

Honda has 18 engines available again and Andretti has 5, Ganassi 5, RLL 3, MSR 2, DCR 2 and 1 floating around for use. Ganassi could always sell theirs off and not run 5 for Indy next year and DCR get that extra one left from Vasser Sullivan.

For the Chevy side, they have some more room. Penske will remain status quo and I don’t see ECR downsizing. AMSP will also have 3 cars. Thats 9 Chevy teams among 3 organizations.

For the 3rd time in 4 years AJ Foyt Racing has an opening in the 14 car. They usually let the dominos play out before making any moves. Benjamin Pedersen is the favorite to land in 1 of their seats. I keep hearing Dalton Kellett will be face in the 4 car. The 11 entry though is what’s up in the air. Do they keep it?

Juncos Hollinger Racing should be back, but is Callum Ilott. He’s getting a lot of attention and if VeeKay moves on from ECR he’d be a factor there. If VeeKay stays at ECR, he could be in the mix at Ganassi too. If he does leave, Pedersen would be in play here as well. They have that 2nd car still and would love to use it if the money and people are right.

Paretta wants in full time. So does Cusick. What happens with Top Gun/RC Emerson’s saga.

Foyt may be forced to sell their 4th car and Cusick makes the most sense to take it. JHR could run their 2nd. Paretta would be left out unless they can find the money to get a chassis purchased or forced to do what they’re doing with ECR again but have to miss the Indy 500.

Which is why this is all predicated by VeeKay and Ganassi now. ECR wants him back. He wants to be loyal to ECR too. Do you stay at ECR or go to Ganassi?

His decision will decide what others do. If he leaves, ECR would certainly have a long list to look at between veterans Ryan Hunter-Reay, Castroneves or even some youngsters like Ilott or Indy Lights drivers Benjamin Pedersen or Linus Lundqvist.

Pedersen tested for JHR in Portland and it’s known JHR would eventually like to use that 2nd seat. He’d be in play if they do. If they don’t, he’s been tied to AJ Foyt Racing all season too. If not there, then ECR is another possible landing spot.

Lundqvist would be a hot commodity if he wins the Lights title.

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