INDIANAPOLIS — Chip Ganassi Racing’s endeavor to have one singular driver in their fourth seat never came to fruition so they devised a plan for the next best possible route – a shared car with what they’re hoping to be a pair of top drivers. On Friday, they announced that rookie Marcus Armstrong will drive in all the road and street course events while they’ll seek an oval specialist for the Indy 500, Texas, the pair of Iowa races and the one at the World Wide Technology Raceway.
The ride will be rebranded to the No. 11 Dallara-Honda which formerly the last two years was Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 entry. The reason for the No. 11 is simple. They now own the numbers 8, 9, 10 and 11 for their four-car stable. Marcus Ericsson returns to the No. 8 Dallara-Honda, Scott Dixon is back in the No. 9 Dallara-Honda while Alex Palou enters what will more than likely be his final season in the No. 10 Dallara-Honda. Now, you get Armstrong and a yet to be announced driver in the No. 11.
“I’m ecstatic to be a part of the INDYCAR SERIES, but especially with Chip Ganassi Racing because it is such an iconic and successful team. I have an extraordinary opportunity in front of me to learn from people that have been performing at the absolute highest level in this sport,” said Armstrong. “As a Kiwi, I’ve always watched Scott Dixon succeed in the championship with this team, so on a personal level this is quite special for me. I am a hard worker that looks to improve every single day. With the knowledge and personnel that this team has, I’m very excited to take on this new challenge.”
So who is Armstrong? Well, he’s likely the next big star to leave a F1 path for an INDYCAR dream. He hails from Dixon’s native land of New Zealand. The thing is, he was born (2000) the time when Dixon was making his name known here.
The thing about Armstrong is, he’s been in Formula 2, the step below F1, for the last three years now. He just won three races. What more is there to do? Without much room to move up and not wanting to race for a fourth team in four years in F2, Armstrong has seen what predecessors have done in INDYCAR and decided maybe it’s time to try it over here for a while.
He’s seen Ericsson leave F1 and make a nice career for himself on this side of the globe. He saw Romain Grosjean rejuvenated. He’s seen Callum Ilott and Christian Lundgaard shine and favor here instead of going back. Why not walk through that door while it’s open he felt.
The favorite to land the oval only ride is Ryan Hunter-Reay who’s under contract with the team and can easily win the Indy 500 still.
With that said, what’s left?
There’s 27 full-time seats with the only two left available being at Dale Coyne Racing/Rick Ware Racing and Juncos Hollinger Racing.
Takuma Sato’s full-time venture is looking slimmer and slimmer by the day which leaves the 51 open. JHR had Armstrong on their radar but now could pivot back to Agustin Canapino in the 78.
Andretti Autosport (4) – 3 of the 4 from last year return (Herta, Grosjean, DeFrancesco) while Kyle Kirkwood replaces Alexander Rossi in the 27.
Chip Ganassi Racing (4) – 3 of the 4 from last year also return here with Armstrong and an oval specialist sharing the 11 entry.
Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing (3) – All 3 drivers are back in 2023. Only change is the number/sponsor swap between Jack Harvey (Now in the 30) and Christian Lundgaard (Now in the 45).
Meyer Shank Racing (2) – They’ll have both drivers back.
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 (3) – They’ll use all 3 engines full-time next year with O’Ward, Rosenqvist and Rossi in them.
Team Penske (3) – All 3 drivers are returning
Ed Carpenter Racing (2) – Both drivers are back.
AJ Foyt Racing (2) – They’ll have 2 new drivers in Benjamin Pedersen in the 4 replacing Dalton Kellett and Santino Ferrucci in the 14 replacing Kyle Kirkwood.
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.