How Johnson’s decision affects INDYCAR silly season

Jimmie Johnson held the keys to how the rest of the NTT INDYCAR Series silly season would go. Honda was maxed out for their engine availability. Where this affected others was, Honda is waiting to see if they have an extra engine or not to offer. DCR/HMD wanted it if there was one. That’s so long as Takuma Sato comes back. We know David Malukas is returning and Sato is under contract. There’s also an option for him to step away and retire. There’s been no indications if he will or not.

If Johnson didn’t come back full-time and Sato returned, then DCR/HMD would love to get that 3rd engine and make it financially work with Linus Lundqvist. If Johnson and Sato both returned on a full-time basis, then I got the notion that Honda is full in terms of full-time engine allocations.

If Johnson returned and Sato retires, then Lundqvist would replace Sato. That’s why Johnson is the first domino and Sato the 2nd.

Now we know Johnson’s plans.

So what does Honda do? It’s really up to Sato at this point.

Lundqvist doesn’t have the money to go to AJ Foyt Racing even if Dalton Kellett doesn’t return or even if a 3rd car is an option. Same for the 2nd JHR seat.

I’ve heard Benjamin Pedersen will be in the seat of the 14 at Foyt so silly season is now pretty much over.

Penske is set with 3. Andretti is set with their 4 with the only change being Kyle Kirkwood replacing the departing Alexander Rossi. Rossi joins the 3rd car at AMSP joining O’Ward and Rosenqvist there.

RLL is bringing back Graham Rahal and Christian Lundgaard and Jack Harvey while being a possible addition to the free agent market, has a multi-year deal and I don’t see RLL buying him out. Meyer Shank Racing is set with both drivers returning.

Ed Carpenter Racing has Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay back. Their only situation is what Ed Carpenter does and if they keep the 3rd car open to Paretta. Other than that, they’re set.

That’s 6 teams solidified.

Jimmie Johnson during April’s open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

Ganassi has to figure out if they want to keep a 4th seat or just scale back to 3 full-time cars and use Johnson’s part-time. It’s not like it’s a leaders circle ride so it doesn’t matter if it’s full-time or not.

Plus, both Chevy and Honda can produce 18 engines each for the Indy 500 but on a full-time level, they’re really not willing to add much more to the mix. It’s more or less just repurposing the engines that are already out there.

Chevy had 12 full time engines for 2022 and Honda 15. In those numbers, I counted the 3rd ECR engine as well as the 3rd at Foyt engine into Chevy’s allocation because the plan all along was for that Foyt entry to be full-time car anyhow and the 3rd ECR engine was used with Paretta. I hear that plan will likely happen again in 2023 between ECR and Paretta.

On the part-time basis, Chevy engines were a 3rd at AMSP, one at DragonSpeed/Cusick and two at DRR. For Honda, they had 1 extra at Andretti and 1 at Ganassi.

AMSP is moving that 3rd to full-time. JHR is getting that one back from DragonSpeed/Cusick which means DRR holds the keys to the only 2 part-time engines from last year. Chevy ups their full-time engine program to 24.

Honda is set at their 15 full-time which is why it’s down to Ganassi or DCR/HMD and why Honda won’t just create another full-time engine program to accommodate both.

Ganassi likely will let go of their 5th Indy only entry from last year to which DCR/HMD can pick up too. Heck, there could even be a scenario to where Sato is Indy only in that ride…

Andretti will use theirs again for Marco Andretti.

That’s 33 cars/engines there.

DragonSpeed/Cusick could make a run at the other Foyt engine or even AMSP for Kyle Busch? We know where Chevy would obviously like that to go under that scenario. What’s the Top Gun/RC Enerson saga?

Chevrolet (16)

Team Penske (3) – All 3 drivers are returning

Arrow McLaren SP (3) – They’ll use all 3 engines full-time next year with O’Ward, Rosenqvist and Rossi in them. Do they get a 4th for Kyle Busch?

Ed Carpenter Racing (3) – Both drivers are back. Ed is likely back on ovals. Do they pair on a grander scale with Paretta for 2023?

AJ Foyt Racing (3) – They had 3 engines this year but will they use all 3 next season?

Juncos Hollinger Racing (2) – They’ll have 2 cars next year with Callum Ilott in 1 of them and a TBA driver in the 2nd car.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (2) – I don’t get any indication that they’ll scale back to 1 or 0 cars in 2023 after a strong show this past May. I also don’t get any sense they’ll add more races outside of Indy either.

The Top Gun/RC Enerson saga has 1 engine. AJ Foyt has another but do they use all 3? That leaves 1 engine left. Cusick and Paretta are interested. Can they each secure 1?

Honda (17)

Andretti Autosport (5) – They have 4 drivers signed for 2023 and all will be back. I’d expect Marco Andretti to return in the Indy only role again.

Chip Ganassi Racing (4) – I don’t see them running a 5th car for Indy only next year. They can let go of 1 of their chassis/engines now.

Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing (3) – All 3 drivers are back in 2023.

Meyer Shank Racing (2) – They’ll have both drivers back. They’re eyeing expansion but I don’t see how that gets done yet.

Dale Coyne Racing (2) – They’re after a 3rd engine but can they secure it? Malukas is back but is Sato? They could have 1 seat open. If they don’t, then they want a 3rd engine for Linus Lundqvist.

There’s 1 engine left out there (Vasser Sullivan’s) that could be used. Then the rest gets interesting. Does Ganassi drop 1 of their engines and can DCR gain it? Does MSR secure a 3rd one to use part-time?

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