IndyCar Silly Season 2020, Ep. 1

Barry Cantrell/Motorsport Images

IndyCar Silly Season 2020, Ep. 1

Insights & Analysis

IndyCar Silly Season 2020, Ep. 1

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Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan: Co-entrant James ‘Sulli’ Sullivan says the plan is to make no changes with the No. 18 Honda, and return with Santino Ferrucci for his third season in the DCR/VS family.

Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh: Alex Palou has been a revelation so far with the Little Team That Could. One recent IndyCar champion rates Palou as a breakout star in the making, all while he’s had to learn oval racing and made some typical rookie mistakes.

Looking ahead, Palou was signed to a one-year deal, hopes to get an offer from the team for a second, and if he performs as expected across the five road and street courses that close the 2020 season, they’d be wise to get his signature on a contract before another team hands him a pen.

Ed Carpenter Racing: The team’s owner/driver tells RACER he wants to maintain consistency with its driver line-up, and is working to keep Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay in place for 2021. Carpenter will join the young duo on ovals again next year, and is actively working to convert Daly’s part-time opportunity in the No. 20 Chevy on the road and street courses into a full-time role. If successful, it would give ECR two season-long drivers and move the oval expert into a third, part-time entry.

Meyer Shank Racing: The Ohio-based squad is looking to become a two-car team in 2021, with the No. 60 Honda continuing into its second full-time season with Jack Harvey and a new, part-time entry that’s likely to run alongside the Briton at select rounds. There’s a lot of rumors circling the Jim Meyer- and Mike Shank-owned team in IndyCar and IMSA at the moment, and they’re all positive.

Conor Daly’s part-time gig at ECR could expand, as could Meyer Shank’s operation, while Team Penske’s apparently settled program could still loook different next season. Motorsport Images

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: As Bobby Rahal confirmed this week, getting two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato to sign a new contract is the team’s top priority. Graham Rahal and most sponsors on his car are on multi-year deals, and in a nod to Bob’s ongoing belief that three is the magic number, he’d love to have a fully-funded third car to add to the RLLR stable, but there’s nothing on the immediate horizon to suggest it will happen for 2021.

Team Penske: Roger Penske was quoted at the Indianapolis 500 as saying all three of his current drivers will be back in 2021, and with the proclamation, he ended mounting speculation on the short-term futures of Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. With three Chevy-powered cars returning, Penske’s outfit is on the clock to confirm whether fielding four cars — for the first time since 2017 — is on the cards with Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske’s reigning Australian Supercars champion.

Entering 2018, Penske’s choice to downsize from four cars to three directly coincided with the formation of Acura Team Penske and its staffing needs for a three-year IMSA campaign. With the Acura DPi program nearing its conclusion with Penske in November, a wealth of crew talent will be available for a return to IndyCar.

The situation at Penske mirrors what took place when Chip Ganassi’s Ford GT IMSA program closed at the end of 2019; with amazing personnel in the building, and a shortage of skilled crew knocking on the door looking for work, CGR’s grew its IndyCar team to keep the IMSA staff employed — and ready if a new sports car program arrives in the coming years. One year later, Acura Team Penske is in the midst of the same situation.

There’s no doubt New Zealand’s McLaughlin wants to become an IndyCar driver and he’s highly respected by Penske’s IndyCar threesome, which leaves funding as the only significant question to answer before such a move would become feasible.

 

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