Could Chip Ganassi Racing offer its engineering support to a smaller NTT IndyCar Series team in a similar manner to the business relationship struck between Andretti Technologies and Harding Steinbrenner Racing?
“We have talked about doing that, but nothing’s happened at this point for us, so we’ll see how the future goes,” said CGR managing director Mike Hull. “I think it’s a great idea. I applaud Michael [Andretti] and Mike Harding for what they’re doing there as partners to develop Colton Herta.”
Through the establishment of Andretti Technologies, Andretti has demonstrated the value of outsourcing engineers to a smaller team like HSR that would otherwise struggle to attract top-tier technical personnel. And in sharing chassis setup and on-track data from its four primary cars with HSR, along with using the information coming back from Herta’s No.88 Honda to enrich Andretti Autosport’s drivers and engineers, a powerful two-way partnership has been demonstrated throughout the 2019 season.
In considering a similar offering from CGR, the Ganassi team would, like Andretti Autosport, create the possibility of expanding its footprint in the series without taking on a third or fourth entry. From a numerical standpoint, CGR’s two full-time entries for Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist would benefit from increased depth as the team faces three cars from Team Penske at every round, and five combined Andretti entries, with Herta added to the tally.
Depending on the future of CGR’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program that will see the current Ford GT project conclude in October, the team could have a number of talented ex-IndyCar engineers to outsource if the right relationship is found within the paddock.
With Meyer Shank Racing searching for a new technical alliance in the wake of Arrow McLaren SP’s upcoming switch to Chevrolet at the top of the list, a young driver like MSR’s Jack Harvey, or other talent coming out of Indy Lights like championship leader Oliver Askew, would clearly benefit from being linked to the engineering side of a title-winning team.
Drawing from the example presented by Andretti Technologies, it would be a surprise if more major IndyCar teams do not pursue HSR-like arrangements going forward to develop next-generation drivers.
“That’s a really good thing, and our opinion about young talent, no matter the level of talent they have… in this case with Colton, you’d say that he’s at the top of the heap when it comes to that,” Hull said, highlighting the immediate impact HSR received for Herta through its Andretti agreement.
“It still takes – as we’ve seen with drivers like Colton or Felix in our case, or [Arrow SPM’s] Marcus Ericsson, people who have ability and come from other areas of racing – it still takes them at least one solid year, maybe two solid years, before you can reap the benefit of what they do, and there are reasons for that.
“So I think it takes an owner who’s willing to spend time, either with a development arm, or with a program that allows young drivers to develop in an IndyCar – not in a sports car, not in a Lights car, not anywhere else – but has to learn under fire and has the backing of, in this case, two collective owners to make it happen. I applaud what they’re doing.”