As RACER revealed in our most recent silly season piece, Linus Lundqvist is primed to replace his fellow Swede Marcus Ericsson at Chip Ganassi Racing and nothing has changed on that front. If the 2022 Indy Lights champion isn’t racing alongside fellow Indy Lights champ Scott Dixon and the rest of the Ganassi drivers next season, I’ll be shocked. Similarly, I also continue to hear good things about Marcus Armstrong becoming a full-time driver with the team.
A few well-placed sources say that Ericsson, who was finally confirmed at Andretti this week, is set to receive a handsome annual sum that would place him among the highest earners in the series. And I’m routinely told he’ll be slotted into the No. 28 Honda currently driven by Romain Grosjean and the car will have an all-new look next season.
Although he isn’t speaking about his future at the moment, I’ve heard Grosjean is confident he’ll continue racing in IndyCar and there are a few teams that could welcome “The Phoenix” into the fold after he finishes his two-year stint at Andretti. Could a reunion with Dale Coyne Racing be possible?
On the last Andretti topic, it will be interesting to see where the team decides to go with its fourth entry and whether it will move forward with a new driver or be parked in favor of running a tighter three-car operation. Of the drivers said to be under consideration for the fourth, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Tatiana Calderon’s name mentioned.
Alex Palou, as we’ve recently confirmed, will be staying with Ganassi, and his almost-team, or never-to-be team, or however we should correctly mention the Arrow McLaren outfit, will not be seeking an injunction to prevent him from driving for Ganassi, or to try and force him to drive for them, if that’s even possible. Going after his wallet, however, is most certainly happening.
Finding someone the internet has dubbed as “Faux Palou” to take his place in the No. 6 Chevy has been a new priority for the Arrow McLaren team since the Brickyard GP, and as I’ve been told by a rising number of people, Callum Ilott and David Malukas are leading contenders for the job.
Of all the fast and remaining free agents, Malukas is the one who has been linked to more teams than any other. First it was Andretti Autosport, but that seems to have gone cold. Then it was Ed Carpenter Racing, where he’s said to have received a contract and was seriously interested in the opportunity, but a call from Arrow McLaren is understood to have come in as the no-Palou scenario came to light.
I’ve also heard Malukas and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing could be headed towards the wedding chapel, and while I’d love to tell you where “Lil’ Dave” will end up, I don’t honestly know. Carpenter tends to frown on being ghosted, so on my bingo card, Arrow McLaren and RLL are the two main locations left for Malukas to land.
For weeks, Coyne is said to have Singapore’s Danial Frost on his way to the team after the Indy NXT season is over, and I’ve also heard Coyne’s Sting Ray Robb has been having great success in raising a budget to offer someone for 2024.
Carpenter’s No. 20 Chevy is an entry with a wide-open future. Ryan Hunter-Reay is rumored to have an offer to stay, but I don’t know if hanging around amid a much-needed overhaul is what a former champion and Indy 500 winner wants to do. Devlin DeFrancesco and a bunch of others are keen to drive the car, so if it isn’t Malukas, Carpenter could be busy weighing its options among young IndyCar veterans and a bunch of kids looking to step up from Indy NXT.
DeFrancesco has plenty of scenarios to choose from, and as we wrote earlier this week, Carpenter, Coyne, A.J. Foyt Racing and Juncos Hollinger Racing are the known possibilities once he’s done at Andretti.
Juncos Hollinger is another interesting one where keeping Ilott would give the team its best chances of running towards the front of the midfield, but he’s regarded as the best driver who might be acquirable. A tough hit to the Argentinian economy has cast more doubt on the team’s ability to raise funds to keep the amazing Agustin Canapino in the second car, and most of the known free agents and plenty of kids from NXT have stopped by to talk about their options.
The proposed affiliation between Arrow McLaren and Juncos Hollinger and the turning of either the No. 77 or No. 78 Chevy into a satellite McLaren entry is yet another topic I’m tracking.
Foyt’s new link with Team Penske has a lot of drivers scrambling to learn more about the opportunity. Santino Ferrucci is believed to be unsigned, which could stay that way as the team fields inquiries about the No. 14 Chevy. Benjamin Pedersen’s known to have signed a multi-year deal to drive the No. 55 Chevy, but I keep hearing that he’s searching throughout the paddock for something different. Like the fate of Malukas, I can’t say exactly where this team will end up on the driver front, but it feels like 100-percent carryover or 100-percent change is possible.
And that leaves us with Meyer Shank Racing, which has Tom Blomqvist set to drive the No. 06 Honda and an array of drivers who could helm the No. 60 Honda. I thought the team might be leaning towards Felix Rosenqvist, but in the rapidly changing silly season landscape, I’m not so sure who the team will choose to partner with its IMSA champion. On the Rosenqvist front, the latest scuttle at WWTR says he might have received an extension offer from Arrow McLaren, which would complicate the Ilott and Malukas options.
Elsewhere, Conor Daly’s name has been mentioned with interest to me by one quality team, and from there, NXT championship leader Christian Rasmussen, second-place Hunter McElrea, and third-place Nolan Siegel have been spoken of by two teams apiece as being drivers who are on their radars for next season.
Jamie Chadwick’s debut NXT season has taken a noticeable upward swing during the recent races as the young Briton is demonstrating more of her prodigious talent in the No. 28 Andretti Autosport entry. Although there’s no news to confirm at this point, she and the team are known to be working on keeping her in NXT for 2024.