As RACER told you a few weeks ago, Linus Lundqvist was headed to Chip Ganassi Racing and that’s been confirmed in Thursday’s announcement of the Swede’s multi-year deal to backfill Marcus Ericsson’s seat.
The Swede-for-Swede swap was made easier by the fact that Ganassi offered Ericsson a deal to stay and be paid for the first time in his career — which he rejected and chose to sign with Andretti Autosport. With funding in place for Ericsson to stay in the No. 8 Honda and the ability to sign Lundqvist at a rookie rate to the entry that was meant for the 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner, a perfect scenario presented itself to the team to sign the reigning Indy Lights champion and bring more young talent into the organization.
With Scott Dixon, 43, as the longstanding team leader, having Alex Palou (26), Lundqvist (24), and Marcus Armstrong (23) as its next lineup gives Ganassi a long runway with next-generation drivers and the best driver of his generation to mentor them while chasing more championships.
Meyer Shank Racing, which ran Lundqvist for the last three races, was keen to sign him after the August 12 Brickyard Grand Prix event where Lundqvist started and finished 12th. It’s believed MSR had an option on Lundqvist and wanted to hold onto him for 2024, but Ganassi entered the frame immediately after the race and is said to have made Lundqvist an offer that would have been hard for MSR to match. From there, Lundqvist cleared the right-to-match period and was brought into the title-leading team for 2024 and beyond.
On the MSR front, there’s an increasing belief it will have Felix Rosenqvist moving across from Arrow McLaren to lead the retooling team. Rosenqvist won’t be returning to his current team, which isn’t a shocking development, and he’s had half the grid express interest in hiring him, but I’m told by a growing segment of the paddock that MSR has won the Rosenqvist sweepstakes.
Will a Rosenqvist move open an Arrow McLaren option for Malukas? Josh Tons/Motorsport Images
Directly related to Rosenqvist’s Arrow McLaren departure, the same high volume of paddock intel says David Malukas will be driving the No. 6 Chevy when we return next year. Malukas and Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott were said to be Arrow McLaren’s top picks for the seat, but with the rumored link coming between the teams to brand Ilott’s No. 77 Chevy as a satellite McLaren entry, the Zak Brown-led organization could end up with both drivers — one directly on the payroll and the other through business ties with JHR — in the family.
Take a moment to consider all of the places the silly season has taken us in recent weeks, and the latest developments are simply remarkable. Lundqvist, with two fastest laps and best finish of 12th to his name from his three MSR races, will show up to work as the newest employee at IndyCar’s best team of 2023 and have the best driver of the last three decades and the best driver of the current decade as his teachers.
And Malukas, with two podiums in two seasons for one of the series’ perennial underdogs, is awaiting confirmation at IndyCar’s richest team alongside an Indianapolis 500 winner in Alexander Rossi and one of the fiercest title challengers in the business in Pato O’Ward.
If I said at the beginning of the season that we’d have Lundqvist signed by Chip Ganassi and Malukas signed by Zak Brown, IndyCar would have yanked my hard card and sent me to the hospital for a full evaluation. And yet, here we are, with two amazing kids readying themselves for the biggest opportunities of their lives.
There’s more to share, but let’s savor what’s in motion with Lundqvist, Rosenqvist and Malukas, and reconvene next week ahead of the season finale in Monterey for some of the other developments that are taking place.