Team Penske, Andretti Autosport and AJ Foyt Racing each tested at Portland last Friday. Among those notably to skip? Chip Ganassi Racing and Arrow McLaren SP. Each tested here last year and in Ganassi’s case, they thrived because of it.
Ganassi won the pole as well as taking 2 of the top 3 starters at Portland last September as well as putting 2 drivers on the podium. So with that said, why test here again? They in turn set their focus on the season finale at Laguna Seca and would test there.
Penske however has 3 drivers in the top 6 in points and elected to focus on Portland. Can they do what Ganassi did last year and separate themselves from the Ganassi camp this weekend?
A factor to watch too is Andretti. They looked good here last year, won the last natural road course last at Indy last month and could play spoiler. Do they take finishing positions away from Ganassi and/or Penske?
I think almost everyone figured that Malukas would be set to return to his seat in 2023. I mean there’s an option in play to do so and this is for his dads team. However, his speed, especially in Gateway has made him a hot commodity elsewhere, most notably Chip Ganassi Racing.
It’s no secret that Ganassi is waiting to see how this Alex Palou case turns out and that Jimmie Johnson is waiting to see how this Carvana situation also plays out too. Carvana is in financial trouble and could in theory not return on a full time scale next year.
That’s where Ganassi can get creative.
Dixon returns with PNC sponsorship in the 9 car. Marcus Ericsson has Huski Chocolate. We know NTT Data is there. What if Malukas brings a partnership with HMD over here too? I think an under the radar signing was Kyffin Simpson to HMD in the Indy Lights program a month ago. Simpson is a Ganassi developmental driver. Could this be a pathway for Ganassi to develop Indy Lights drivers and use DCR as a potential alliance team with HMD to groom them for the bigger team in the future?
HMD can in theory stay put with Coyne on the 18 car and bring up Linus Lundqvist to the 18 seat. Takuma Sato could return in the 2023 with the Coyne/Rick Ware entry. Lundqvist brings funding from the Indy Lights scholarship that he’s destined to earn.
Malukas could shift over to the 10 seat, and Ganassi could use NTT and the American Legion to piece together the Johnson deal…
It’s a way for Ganassi to get into Indy Lights without having a full fledged team. It helps Coyne and HMD in the process and sets a pathway to INDYCAR.
Also, it helps snag a future star in the making by Malukas who has the personality to be a mega hit here in the series, the speed to be the next great star and the maturity to handle it with grace.
This domino is doing to affect all. McLaren is in court overseas for the services of Oscar Piastri. Alpine feels like they retain his rights. Piastri also signed with McLaren. Sound familiar. That’s exactly the situation here with Ganassi, McLaren and Palou.
If Piastri is granted to McLaren, then it shapes their other rides. Rene Rast signed to their Formula E program last week. Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi are 2 of their 3 INDYCAR drivers. Lando Norris takes up 1 of their 2 F1 seats.
Felix Rosenqvist is waiting to see how this all plays out. If Piastri ends up McLaren’s then that sets the F1 grid for them and turns the focus to Palou and this dealing. IF Piastri ends up not theirs, then this is where it gets silly.
Zak Brown could make a case to bring up O’Ward or even Colton Herta to that 2nd F1 seat and both are said to be in play for it. There’s word that a clause could be had on Palou’s side that he could get out of a Ganassi deal if an F1 seat arises. Same for Herta and Andretti.
That’s why this Piastri case is worth watching here in America because it affects rides here. If McLaren gets Piastri and Palou, then Rosenqvist is Formula E bound. If it is .500 on the Palou/Piastri cases, then things get interesting…
Andretti Autosport Likely Set For 2023
There were reports that Devlin DeFrancesco was maybe out of a ride despite just one season into a multi-year deal with Andretti Autosport. However, I’ve been told that never was going to happen and that not only is DeFrancesco’s money good, they’ve paid enough through next season too.
That in turn means AA is set for 2023. Kyle Kirkwood is already signed to replace the departing Alexander Rossi. Romain Grosjean is on Year 1 now of a multi-year deal. DeFrancesco isn’t going anywhere. The only change could be on the Colton Herta front. He’s getting European attention again and has been linked to McLaren, Alpine and Red Bull drives. While he doesn’t have enough points for a Super License, if the teams that want his services value him enough, they can get him there.
While I don’t see it happening, I’ve learned this season to never say never.
Conor Daly Got a Haircut
The mullet is gone. Conor Daly decided to get a fresh cut ahead of a family wedding this past weekend.
While this isn’t major news, it’s hardly something to overlook as the mullet was becoming a trademark for him.