Over the next two weeks, one of Chip Ganassi Racing's two lead drivers will be crowned 2023 IndyCar Series champion. The team with the strongest lineup and strongest cars in the series this year is getting even more intriguing next year, adding heralded rookie Linus Lundqvist alongside confirmed veteran Scott Dixon and, presumably, contract law enthusiast Alex Palou.
The Swedish driver has raced in America since 2020, the year he won 15 of 17 races on his way to the Formula Regional Americas Championship. He jumped to the second-level Indy Lights (now Indy NXT) series in 2021, finishing third and collecting three wins. In 2022, he won five races and that championship. Lundqvist missed out on all of the open rides available before the 2023 season, but he has run three races as an injury replacement for Simon Pagenaud at Meyer Shank Racing. His best finish in those rounds is just 12th, but he has run near the top ten at all of a road course, a street circuit, and an oval since temporarily aligning with the team. Lundqvist becomes a rare unproven driver to sign with a top IndyCar team as a rookie, skipping the typical process of spending a year or more with a lower-tier program before getting the offer to join a powerhouse.
Lundqvist replaces fellow Swede Marcus Ericsson, who jumps to Andretti Autosport after a year-long negotiation with CGR turned sour. Ericsson, winner of the 2022 Indianapolis 500 and 3 other races with CGR, reportedly insisted on staying with the team without being asked to bring a substantial portion of the car's budget from his pool of personal sponsorship. A suitable offer never materialized, so Ericsson announced a switch to Andretti Autosport last week. While Ganassi is losing a 500 winner and strong multi-discipline driver, the team is also getting younger: While Ericsson is 32, Lundqvist is just 24.
While losing Ericsson is a disappointment, the CGR team should enter 2024 with what may be the strongest lineup in a series with at least two other teams boasting three highly-decorated professional drivers. Lundqvist is confirmed alongside six-time champion Dixon; the two are also expected to be joined by emerging superstar Palou, who may need to wrap up some legal proceedings before any announcements are made. That compares favorably with the stacked trios of IndyCar race-winners at Andretti (Colton Herta, Kyle Kirkwood, Ericsson) and Penske (Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Scott McLaughlin), plus the confirmed McLaren duo of Pato O'Ward and Alexander Rossi. IndyCar's silly season is still in full swing among those top four teams: that McLaren seat needs to be announced, Chip Ganassi Racing needs to make a decision on its fourth car currently run part-time by New Zealand rookie Marcus Armstrong, and Andretti Autosport is still expected to sign one more driver, potentially replacing Romain Grosjean.
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