Santino Ferrucci is expected to be announced as Sebastien Bourdais’ full-time teammate at Dale Coyne Racing, giving the Illinois-based team a head start on its preparations for 2019. In four outings spanning Detroit, Portland, and Sonoma, the Connecticut native earned a best finish of 11th at IndyCar’s season finale for the Honda-powered team.
DCR, which has a long track record of confirming its second driver late into the off-season, finds itself in unfamiliar territory with both of its drivers having been signed by October 1. It has also set a new trend by establishing continuity with the same drivers returning in its primary and secondary entries. Together, the advancements should allow DCR’s drivers and engineers to craft and execute a plan that will benefit the team in testing, R&D, and commercial development.
For Ferrucci, whose career arc returns to North America after spending most of the decade in Europe pursuing Formula 1, the opportunity at DCR represents a fresh start. Following his highly-publicized mistakes at the Silverstone Formula 2 races in July, Ferrucci’s time on the European open-wheel ladder met an immediate end. Although the Haas F1 team has left the door open for an ongoing role as a development driver, the switch to IndyCar would suggest Ferrucci has chosen to pursue a new set of goals at home.
With the 20-year-old positioned next to the four-time Champ Car champion, one more piece of the upcoming IndyCar grid is complete. It also leaves few full-time openings for those seeking a seat in the series. Including Ferrucci and the recent signing of Felix Rosenqvist at Chip Ganassi Racing, 20 full-time drivers are locked in for the next championship run from March through September.
Of the carryover entries that competed in 2018, only the second seat in the No. 23 Chevy at Carlin Racing, the road and street course opportunity in Ed Carpenter’s No. 20 Chevy, Juncos Racing’s No. 32 Chevy, and the No. 6 Honda at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports are left for drivers to pursue.
Factoring in the potential expansion for veteran outfits or new-team growth, a third Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda, a third Carlin Chevy, the potential interest of McLaren, Elton Julian’s DragonSpeed team and Scuderia Corsa could boost IndyCar’s entry list beyond 25 cars at some rounds.