INDIANAPOLIS — Cusick has secured a Chevrolet engine with a partnership with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and now is the latest addition to the field of the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Both they and Paretta have made it clear that they each strive to be full-time, but in the process, they’ll take it step-by-step. However, with them taking a Chevy engine, where does that leave things?
We have 29 Indy 500 entries already announced. 15 for Honda, 14 for Chevrolet. For both Honda and Chevy though, I can make a case to where 35 of the 36 engine packages are already spoken for.
See, neither engine manufacturer is expanding past 18 engines each for next season. They lose money for each engine package the bring out and with 18 already produced plus a new engine package for 2024, it makes zero sense for Honda or Chevy to go beyond 18.
With where we sit, I think all 18 are basically spoken for.
Chevy has 4 engines open but you know 1 of which goes to Ed Carpenter in his oval only seat. DRR owned two rides last year so I can see them still keeping the other entry with a yet to be named driver. I’ve also heard from good sources that RC Enerson owns an engine too. That leaves just 1 left for Chevy to work out with the only seats open being the 2nd DRR car and the 2nd JHR already announced entry.
Honda has 3 open but we know Ganassi wants to field a 4th full-time car. If they do so, then they’d want to keep their Indy only car from Kanaan’s package this past year and use it for Jimmie Johnson. Key words being, “they’d want.” Johnson doesn’t even know yet if he can do so, which means that Ganassi is looking more and more likely to have 4 cars next season.
However, RLL is close to announcing their pursuit to run a fourth car and with Takuma Sato having thoughts of scaling back to ovals only, he’d absolutely get an engine and can use it with DCR/RWR’s third car if so. That would likely signal that Ganassi can’t run five cars and make Honda full anyways with Ganassi, RLL and Sato taking the final 3 engines.
Which is why 35 of the 36 engines are already likely spoken for and the only seats open to secure are the second (No. 78 Chevrolet) with JHR, the second Indy only ride at DRR, the full-time fourth seat at Ganassi and maybe the second seat which like Ganassi is also full-time with DCR/RWR (No. 51 Honda). That’s truly dependent on Sato.
Andretti Autosport (5) – They have 5 drivers already named with the four full-timers (Herta, Grosjean, Kirkwood, DeFrancesco) and Marco Andretti as the Indy only.
Chip Ganassi Racing (3) – I once thought 5 cars at Indy was a one-time deal but recent rumor is that Ganassi will run four full-time drivers and roll out the 5th for Johnson if he wants to race with them and that they can secure it. Right now though, we know if 3 drivers (Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou).
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.
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. They’re also after a 3rd package too.
Arrow McLaren SP (4) – They’ll use all 3 engines full-time next year with O’Ward, Rosenqvist and Rossi in them. Now Kanaan was announced as the 4th driver for the part-time car.
Team Penske (3) – All 3 drivers are returning
Ed Carpenter Racing (2) – Both drivers are back.
AJ Foyt Racing (2) – They had 3 engines this past year but sounds like they’ll scale back to running 2 with rookie Benjamin Pedersen and veteran Santino Ferrucci in their cars.
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.
Cusick Motorsports/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (1) – They’ll be back with Stefan Wilson.
Chevrolet (5 open, 4 could be spoken for)
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (1) – 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.
Ed Carpenter Racing (1) – I don’t get a sense Ed Carpenter wants to expand to 4 cars and I can’t see him stepping away so expect Carpenter to be in the 3rd ECR car next May. If he doesn’t, which would be a massive shock, this would be a direct path for Paretta.
Word is the Top Gun/RC Enerson saga has ended with Enerson in possession of the equipment and looking for a team to pair with. AJ Foyt had 4 chassis/engine programs for 2021, went down to 3 for 2022 but could scale back even further to just 2 in 2023 which opens up some leeway.
DragonSpeed and Paretta want in but I don’t see how. The only other option for them could be best to pair with Enerson.
Honda (3 open)
There’s 3 openings but you know 1 of the 3 will go to Ganassi in their 4th car. RLL feels great about adding a 4th Indy only ride and if Sato truly scales back to part-time, then that would take the 5th Ganassi engine and place it with him and he can run a third DCR/RWR or HMD joint entry leaving Honda filled at 18.
Which is why I pretty much say most of the rides are now secured already.
Drivers With Ties
- Jimmie Johnson – Obviously is free to run for whomever he wants but Ganassi makes the most sense here.
- Ed Carpenter – Clearly the favorite for the 3rd ECR seat.
- Simona de Silvestro – Locked in with Paretta. Can they pair with someone or get that final Chevy lease?
- RC Enerson – Has an car, can a team help them out and field Enerson who can bring funding and a chassis?
- Takuma Sato – Truly up to him on what he wants to do in 2023. If he’s back full-time, then the three drivers after him on this list could be in the mix for a part-time role. If Sato moves to part-time, then either Armstrong, Frost or Lundqvist gets the nod in the 51 and Sato in the final Honda engine available which could steer him back to RLL.
- Ryan Hunter-Reay – Linked to RLL’s fourth seat, Ganassi’s 4th seat and even JHR if their 2nd driver isn’t ready for Indy.
- Sage Karam – Shocking departure from DRR leads him here. The kid can flat out drive and would be a great addition for any team looking for a driver.
- Marcus Armstrong – The New Zealand native that ran in F2 had a strong test with Coyne in Sebring. He’s also in the conversation for the 2nd seat at Juncos Hollinger Racing.
- Danial Frost – He too had a strong test with Coyne.
- Linus Lundqvist – Won the Indy Lights championship for HMD. Doesn’t have a full-time budget but could be in the mix for that potential seat though. He, like Armstrong, has been mentioned for that JHR seat too.
- Sting Ray Robb – Down to the 2nd JHR seat if he’s going to be in INDYCAR next season.
- Agustin Canapino – Also in the mix for that 2nd JHR seat.