Fast Friday led to contract talks at IMS

INDIANAPOLIS — When the Indianapolis 500 is up ahead and there’s some big named drivers without contracts in place for the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, you can’t avoid the topic, especially on a day dubbed Fast Friday.

The current points leader is a free agent. So is the defending Indy 500 winner. Both are teammates. So is fourth in points Romain Grosjean. So is veteran Graham Rahal.

However, if Friday was any indication, don’t expect a lot of movement on that front.

“Yeah, I want him to stay. Yeah, I’m working hard to do it,” Chip Ganassi said of Marcus Ericsson.

So what’s the hold up? Ganassi says the same thing as everything else.

“I’m not a big guy to be talking about our deals or our contracts or anything, but Marcus has a big future in the sport, and I want it to be on this team, sure, “he says. “Yeah, we just need to finalize some sponsorship, and away we go.”

He says they’re close despite Ericsson saying the ball is in Ganassi’s court. So we’ll see.

We know Alex Palou is likely heading to the Arrow McLaren Racing destination so that opens up at least one seat with Ganassi and that’s a seat you don’t need to provide funding for.

Word is Ericsson wants to be a pay driver and not a driver who has to bring funding. He wants his worth. I don’t think Ganassi can necessarily afford to lose both he and Palou and if push comes to shove, Ericsson sliding over to the 10 seat makes the upmost sense.

What about a return to Ganassi for Graham Rahal? He was open with me that he’s not actively looking to leave and hasn’t even talked to any other teams about doing so. If he does, it would come next month but he wants to get through Indy first.

“Well, yeah, of course,” Bobby Rahal said of if he wanted Graham, his son, to stay.

Graham says that it’s not just the team performance, but he is looking in the mirror too.

“I think a lot of what they (other media members) keep bringing up about I don’t want to run 20th is that it isn’t a reflection on the team,” Graham said. “As I say and of course, you know, I don’t want to run 20th and that eventually, I need to look in the mirror to and understand if I’m the cog in the wheel that’s not working too.

“Because from an unselfish perspective, I know that I could stay within this team and a management role or something else, and I feel that I could have a really strong effect on them. Sure. And so that’s what I said. But of course, things go whatever way they go.

“At the end of the day, you know, the major positive is that I have this organization if they whatever sponsor dollars come in, I can guarantee you that plus some has been spent on going racing. You know, their commitment is better, I would say higher than any other team, other than maybe Roger (Penske) who can literally do whatever they want, you know. We are improving. I know it doesn’t look like it, but things are gonna get better. It does take time without testing without all of that. It is very hard to improve. It’s very hard to go forward. And you’re trying to find things like last night and race trying to you know, you stumble across a ride height change it suddenly wakes the car up and think feels totally differently. Like why now why like, what are we missing? You know, in our data that isn’t showing, you know, but that’s where we’re at.”

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