It’s good to be Dale Coyne. The IndyCar driver turned IndyCar team owner finds himself in the familiar position of having two coveted NTT IndyCar Series seats to offer and plenty of drivers who are hustling to make one of the Honda-powered cars their own.
With so few openings left for drivers to find their way onto the IndyCar grid, Dale Coyne Racing has become the most popular destination for those in search of a home next season, and true to form, Coyne is in no hurry to fill those slots.
DCR ran David Malukas and Sting Ray Robb last year, and with Malukas signing to drive for Arrow McLaren for 2024, Robb is among at least a half-dozen racers who are vying to sign with the Illinois-based team.
There’s Devlin DeFrancesco who, like Robb, has a budget to offer, and Enzo Fittipaldi, brother of Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Pietro Fittipaldi, who tests for DCR next week and is also said to have funding. DCR development driver Danial Frost, who won the opening Indy NXT race in 2023 but faded afterwards, is in the frame along with ex-RLL driver Jack Harvey and NXT championship contender Hunter McElrea. Then there’s IndyCar’s newest free agent, Callum Ilott, and more.
“We’re talking to all the usual suspects, and there’s some surprises,” Coyne told RACER. “So watch this space, but yeah, we’re talking to Sting Ray. We’d love to have him back again. Devlin’s talking to us, so you don’t know what could happen there. And Danial Frost is in the game, too. When we tested him at Sebring about a year ago, he was really quick. We have a lot of time for Danial.”
Coyne also says interest from Europe is higher than ever. Formula 2 championship leader Theo Pourchaire, who recently acknowledged his desire to race in IndyCar, is among an ever-growing number of drivers who find themselves locked out of Formula 1 and need to find a different series to launch their professional careers. One of them could land with Coyne.
“The whole road to Formula 1 is not always clear,” Coyne said. “You look at some of the guys that have won the championship and they’ve gotten nothing. Even Mick Schumacher won a championship, went there, wasn’t there for long, and hasn’t gotten back to racing [in F1]. And the Brazilian kid [Felipe] Drugovich, he won a championship but never got there.
“Those guys really want to be in Formula 1 so bad, but you just can’t go every weekend and sit there and eat quiche because you’re a reserve driver. That’s a nice lifestyle, but a true racer doesn’t really want to do that forever. Those guys get trapped in that, so they think about coming over here. And some of them are really good.”