IndyCar: Surprise driver linked to Chip Ganassi Racing for 2024

Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

Marcus Ericsson is reportedly set to be replaced at Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2024 IndyCar season, and by a driver whom not many were expecting.

With Alex Palou not leaving for Arrow McLaren and therefore likely to return to Chip Ganassi Racing for a fourth consecutive IndyCar season in 2024, presumably as a two-time and reigning series champion, much of the silly season focus had shifted to the No. 8 Honda and Marcus Ericsson.

Ericsson, whose contract with the team is set to expire at the end of the 2023 season, will reportedly no longer be sponsored by longtime backer Finn Rausing in 2024, and while he made clear that he wanted to be treated and paid like a top driver, Chip Ganassi wanted him to continue to bring funding.

Chip Ganassi Racing were said to have made an offer to the 2022 Indy 500 winner after months-long stalemate. As a result, the team that had faced the possibility of losing two of their three full-time drivers looked as though they could return with the exact same lineup in 2024.

But it was recently revealed by RACER’s Marshall Pruett that Chip Ganassi Racing will be announcing Linus Lundqvist as Ericsson’s replacement for 2024.

Lundqvist, who also hails from Sweden, won the 2022 Indy NXT championship, but following the discontinuation of the scholarship that had been awarded to the champion of the sport’s second highest level, he did not get an opportunity to compete in IndyCar until recently.

Meyer Shank Racing called upon Lundqvist to fill in for the injured Simon Pagenaud behind the wheel of the No. 60 Honda at Nashville Street Circuit and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, and from the time he got into the cockpit, he turned heads. He made it to the second round of qualifying in Nashville and delivered the No. 60 team a season-best 12th place finish in Indianapolis.

The promising 24-year-old had been linked to a number of teams in need of full-time drivers for 2024, including, of course, Meyer Shank Racing. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing, two teams for which he recently tested, were also believed to be in the running.

Instead, following a rather surprising development, his first true IndyCar opportunity is set to come with the sport’s top team.

It’s an exciting prospect for all parties involved in making it happen. You can’t help but think about the unexpected nature of this move in comparison to when Chip Ganassi Racing signed Palou after the 2020 season to replace Felix Rosenqvist, who ironically decided to leave for Arrow McLaren. No one saw it coming.

The Dale Coyne Racing driver joining the reigning championship-winning team after a rookie season in which he finished in 16th place in the standings with three top 10 finishes in 14 races was the farthest thing from a heavily rumored move, and both team and driver managed to keep a tight lid on it.

The addition of Lundqvist feels quite similar. Is he primed to do what Palou did and win a championship in year number one?

With Marcus Armstrong likely to go from part-time driver to full-time driver with the team, Chip Ganassi Racing’s four-car lineup for 2024 appears as though it will consist of a six-time champion, a two-time champion, and two drivers who have never run an oval race.

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As for Ericsson, Andretti Autosport remains his most heavily rumored landing spot, replacing either Romain Grosjean or Devlin DeFrancesco, but don’t sleep on Arrow McLaren, given the recent confirmation that Palou will not be joining them as Rosenqvist’s replacement next year.