IndyCar: Multiple driver lineup announcements looming

Santino Ferrucci, Dale Coyne Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Santino Ferrucci, Dale Coyne Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Multiple IndyCar driver lineup announcements for the upcoming 2021 season appear to be on their way, likely arriving in the very near future.

The 2021 IndyCar season will not get underway as originally planned on Sunday, March 7 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

In fact, the start of the season has been delayed by more than one month, with Barber Motorsports Park now scheduled to host the opener on Sunday, April 11 as a result of the postponement of the original opener to Sunday, April 25 due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel restrictions.

IndyCar has not seen many confirmations pertaining to the 2021 driver lineup, which is already nearly full, in recent weeks.

But the delayed start to the season should not delay the few announcements that have not yet been made.

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All but three of the 10 full-time teams have solidified their full-time entries for the 2021 season.

A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Arrow McLaren SP, Chip Ganassi Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing, Meyer Shank Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Team Penske have all solidified their full-time lineups, which include a total of 20 drivers in 18 entries. The three teams that haven’t yet done so should be doing so in the near future, with announcements looming, perhaps for as early as later this month, at all three, according to RACER.

These three teams are Andretti Autosport, Carlin and Dale Coyne Racing. Of those three teams, only Andretti Autosport have made any confirmations for next year, with Colton Herta set to move from the #88 Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport Honda to the #26 Andretti Autosport Honda and Alexander Rossi set to remain behind the wheel of the #27 Honda.

Ryan Hunter-Reay is expected to return behind the wheel of the #28 Honda, with official confirmation still pending, while James Hinchcliffe is expected to join the team full-time after competing for them part-time in 2020. He previously drove full-time for Michael Andretti’s organization from 2012 to 2014.

Marco Andretti is also expected to remain behind the wheel of the #98 Andretti Herta Autosport w/ Marco Andretti & Curb-Agajanian Honda.

As for Carlin, Max Chilton is expected to be back behind the wheel of the #59 Chevrolet in the road course races and the Indy 500 like he was in 2020. As for who will drive the #59 Chevrolet in the other three oval races, that has not yet been confirmed, but Conor Daly would be a solid option since he is set to drive for Ed Carpenter Racing on a Chilton-like Carlin deal, just like he did last year.

The only team for which literally nothing is known to this point is Dale Coyne Racing, with Santino Ferrucci having left the team for NASCAR and Alex Palou having left the team for Chip Ganassi Racing.

It is beginning to seem like the old days of Dale Coyne’s team entering opening race week without a lineup for the upcoming season. But don’t expect that to actually happen, as it is still early.

Charlie Kimball, who will not be back with A.J. Foyt Enterprises in 2021, may bring enough funding to land with the team full-time, and there are a number of other drivers who could drive the second car.

Former Dale Coyne Racing driver Ed Jones is an option, as is former part-time Dale Coyne Racing driver Pietro Fittipaldi, who filled in for the injured Romain Grosjean at the Haas Formula 1 team last season when Grosjean was forced to miss the season’s final two races following his nasty shunt in Bahrain.

Grosjean himself hasn’t ruled out coming to IndyCar in 2021, and Dale Coyne Racing has been discussed as a possible landing spot, with one source even stating that an announcement would be on its way in the coming days.

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It is entirely possible that the team will run multiple drivers behind the wheel of one or both of their cars, which they did in 2011, 2013 and then again from 2015 to 2018.