IndyCar: The final missing puzzle piece in the 2021 lineup

There is one remaining puzzle piece in the driver lineup for the 2021 IndyCar season which has not yet been put into place ahead of next weekend’s season opener.

The 2021 IndyCar season is scheduled to get underway next weekend at Barber Motorsports Park with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst.

This race is the first of four races on the calendar over the course of a 15-day span after the original season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida was pushed back from Sunday, March 7 to Sunday, April 25.

Much of the driver lineup for the upcoming 17-race campaign is set, but there is still one remaining wild card as we near single-digit days until the season gets underway.

There are 24 confirmed full-time entries for the 2021 season, and 20 of those 24 entries have confirmed full-time drivers.

Three of the other four entries have two drivers each, with one set to drive the car in the 13 road and street course races and the other set to drive the car in the four oval races.

Take a look.

  • Chip Ganassi Racing — #48 Honda: Jimmie Johnson (road and street course races), Tony Kanaan (oval races)
  • Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing — #51 Honda: Romain Grosjean (road and street course races), Pietro Fittipaldi (oval races)
  • Ed Carpenter Racing — #20 Chevrolet: Conor Daly (road and street course races), Ed Carpenter (oval races)

The other entry, Carlin’s #59 Chevrolet, only has a confirmed driver for the road and street course races plus the Indy 500, with that driver being Max Chilton.

It still does not have a driver for the three non-Indy 500 oval races, including the two races of the doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway next month and the race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in August.

Last season, Chilton drove for Carlin on the same deal he has this season, and it was Conor Daly who drove the #59 Chevrolet in the non-Indy 500 oval races. Daly also had the same deal he had last season with Ed Carpenter Racing: to drive for the team behind the wheel of the #20 Chevrolet in the road and street course races and pilot a separate entry in the Indy 500. His Carlin deal effectively made him a full-time driver, but with two teams.

Will that be the case again this year to make Daly the 21st full-time driver, or will Carlin bring in a separate driver to compete at Texas Motor Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway, effectively capping this year’s full-time driver list at 20?

Stay tuned.

Tune in to NBC at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 18 for the live broadcast of the 2021 season-opening Honda Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst from Barber Motorsports Park.