2019 IndyCar Series Silly Season Synopsis
A unique partnership, combined with a new team has kept the 2019 Verizon IndyCar Series silly season interesting thus far. As we shift towards the end of the year, here is an update as to where everyone stands right now.
TEAM PENSKE: Josef Newgarden is the only driver linked to a long-term contract, but no discussions have been made by the Captain in switching up his line-up which included Will Power and Simon Pagenaud. You will also likely see an Indianapolis 500 entry once again for Helio Castroneves.
CHIP GANASSI RACING: As the season neared conclusion, Scott Dixon confirmed that he will be back at Chip Ganassi Racing for a couple years to come, with a focus on more championships like this the past season. The new addition at the team, though, will create some buzz. Ed Jones will be replaced by Felix Rosenqvist behind the wheel of the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda following a career that includes FIA European Formula 3, the DTM European touring car series and FIA ABB Formula E. He also ran 10 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires races in 2016, scoring three victories with only two finishes outside of the top-nine.
ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT: Michael Andretti will once again boast the same line-up in 2019 with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Zach Veach, and Marco Andretti confirmed.
TEAM McLAREN: When Fernando Alonso announced he was leaving Formula 1 full-time, there was an immediate discussion started about possible IndyCar plans due to a successful Indianapolis 500 attempt. However, Alonso confirmed over the weekend at the United States Grand Prix that he will not be running a full IndyCar season, feeling it’d be too much on top of his sportscar commitments. He did leave a window open for the Indianapolis 500.
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING: Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato will both be back with the team in 2019. There is still discussions about a third team after Bobby Rahal was quoted by RACER Magazine in being interested in expanding. The only driver suspected for that seat remaining on the market, though, is Oriol Servia.
DALE COYNE RACING: As confirmed at the season finale, Sebastien Bourdais will be back with the team once again. However, the second ride remains in flux with no confirmation offered as of yet. Santino Ferrucci, Pietro Fittipaldi and Zachary Claman De Melo remain as options for the ride. There are also discussions surrounding the Indianapolis 500, and whether rides will be available for the likes of Pippa Mann and Conor Daly.
SCHMIDT PETERSON MOTORSPORTS: James Hinchcliffe is confirmed to continue with the organization in 2019. Robert Wickens is confirmed on paper, however questions surround whether his recovery will be at the point of getting back behind the wheel of a racecar. That said, you have to look towards Carlos Munoz who filled in for Wickens during the final two races.
A.J FOYT RACING: Both Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist have been confirmed for 2019. A third car for the Indianapolis 500 is a possibility, though.
ED CARPENTER RACING: Spencer Pigot put together a strong enough program to stay on-board for another season, while Ed Carpenter will continue running the oval races. A unique partnership with Scuderia Corsa will bring Ed Jones on-board to run the road course events and Indianapolis 500, despite struggling a little this past year with Chip Ganassi Racing.
CARLIN: While nothing has been formally announced, Trevor Carlin told Motorsports.com that “Max (Chilton) and Charlie (KImball) are staying on, or that’s the plan at least.” He also spoke about adding a third car due to demand from drivers to race in the series, as well as bringing back their Indy Lights program with two cars. Notably, their third IndyCar entry may be split by two drivers.
HARDING STEINBRENNER RACING: After a successful debut year in IndyCar, Harding Racing, led by Mike Harding with team president Brian Barnhart, has teamed up with Steinbrenner Racing’s George Steinbrenner IV to form Harding Steinbrenner Racing. The team will enter a pair of cars, with 2018 Indy Lights Champion Patricio O’Ward and 2018 Indy Lights runner-up Colton Herta behind the wheel. Steinbrenner is no stranger to open-wheel racing, having co-owned Herta’s Indy Lights entry the past two years with Andretti Autosport.
This brings an interesting dynamic as originally it was stated that Gabby Chaves was on contract with Harding Racing, but there has been no mention of his name in the silly season rumors since late September. He has made a pair of IMSA starts so that is always a possibility.
JUNCOS RACING: Riccardo Juncos was quoted in August about expanding to two entries for 2019, rotating drivers in the process, but has yet to announce anybody in those rides yet. Kyle Kaiser and Rene Binder drove for the team last year.
MEYER-SHANK RACING: As Michael Shank continues to dive deeper into Verizon IndyCar Series competition, the plan is to run up to as many as ten events with a focus on going to a full schedule in years to come. Jack Harvey has been the only name discussed thus far.
DREYER-REINBOLD RACING: There has been discussions about fielding a team full-time, but no driver announcements have been made as of this time. Sage Karam and JR Hildebrand are possibilities based on their Indianapolis 500 past.
DRAGONSPEED: Former American Formula One prospect turned European sports car team owner Elton Julian is also contemplating a possible jump to the IndyCar Series on a part-time basis in 2019.
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