With transporters due to move into the St. Petersburg paddock in four weeks’ time, the clock continues to wind down on the launch of a new season while Dale Coyne Racing — the last NTT IndyCar Series team to declare its 2024 drivers — works to fill its roster.
Nine of IndyCar’s 10 full-time teams have signed and declared their drivers for the upcoming season, and according to the veteran team owner who runs his two-car program out of Plainfield, Illinois, their identities could be known in a matter of days.
“We tested Jack Harvey and Nolan Siegel down in Homestead, and we’ve had Jack in the simulator this week and that went really, really well,” Coyne told RACER. “We learned a lot about him and that was pretty interesting. But is there anything finalized yet? No, but we’re very close, I would say. By the middle of next week, I think we’ll know exactly where we’re at.”
Coyne had a pair of young drivers last year with David Malukas, who left for Arrow McLaren, and Sting Ray Robb, who departed for A.J. Foyt Racing, which has presented DCR with a range of options on which direction to take his program.
In previous seasons, Coyne often paired a veteran with a rookie, which could make someone like Harvey, who made his IndyCar debut in 2017, a prime candidate to consider for one of the seats. Coyne also prefers to have his drivers bring some funding to offset annual operating expenses for the car which, in Harvey’s case, could come with the need for the Briton to raise a few million dollars to offer the team.
For Siegel, his plans are already set for 2024 with HMD Motorsports in the Indy NXT series where he’s expected to vie for the championship during his sophomore season, but if the rumors are true, the teenage Californian could already be scheduled for his IndyCar debut with DCR in 2025.
Although Coyne wouldn’t be drawn on the topic, he was clearly impressed by Siegel’s performance during his first IndyCar test.
“It was a very pleasant surprise,” he said. “It reminded me of when we tested with Danial Frost, and then he went out and beat Marcus Armstrong and Juri Vips, and we said, ‘What the hell have we got here?’ Nolan goes out and beats [Scott] McLaughlin and [Romain] Grosjean, and you go, ‘Wow, what’s this?’ And it’s not like those guys weren’t trying. He didn’t get weak or tired in the car. He didn’t get worn out mentally in the car, so we liked that.”
Recent speculation regarding a part-time return to DCR for Takuma Sato was recently put to rest, but the concept of Coyne splitting one of his entries between an oval specialist like the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and a dedicated road racer continues to make the rounds. Drivers from Formula 2 to IMSA have been on the team’s radar, but as is often the case with DCR in the final stage of the offseason, there’s a bit of intrigue and mystery surrounding who will race for the team.
Coyne says the field of candidates has been narrowed, and with the season almost upon us, the 26th and 27th full-time entries will soon have names attached to both cars for the 17-race championship.
“Most people know what they’re going to do this year now,” he added. “So it’s quieted back down, which is OK because we’ve still got plenty of serious people looking at us, so it’s all good.”