With Linus Lundqvist likely to replace him at Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2024 IndyCar season, is Marcus Ericsson a sure bet for Andretti Autosport?
Aside from Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson has been the most talked about driver on this year’s IndyCar free agent market. Ericsson, the 2022 Indy 500 winner, is in his fifth season of IndyCar and fourth behind the wheel of the No. 8 Honda.
But the 32-year-old Swede entered the season without a contract to compete beyond 2023, and longtime backer Finn Rausing is likely to end his sponsorship of at the end of the year.
Ericsson, a four-time race winner who has finished in sixth place in the championship standings in each of the last two seasons and currently sits there with 14 of this year’s 17 races in the books, made clear fairly early on that he felt he should be treated and thus paid like a top driver.
Chip Ganassi, however, reportedly wanted Marcus Ericsson to continue to bring funding to stay in the No. 8 Honda for the 2024 IndyCar season.
With Palou not leaving for Arrow McLaren like many expected and Chip Ganassi Racing having reportedly made an offer to Ericsson to keep him behind the wheel of the No. 8 Honda, it appeared as though the team that once seemed to be on the verge of losing two of their three full-time drivers might return in 2024 with the same lineup.
However, 2022 Indy NXT champion Linus Lundqvist, who recently made two relief appearances for Simon Pagenaud at Meyer Shank Racing, is reportedly set to replace Ericsson next year, giving Chip Ganassi Racing a lineup consisting of Palou, Lundqvist, Scott Dixon, and presumably Marcus Armstrong.
Does this make Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing’s only Indy 500 winner in the last 11 years, a sure bet for Andretti Autosport?
Whether or not Ericsson felt disrespected by the amount of time it took to receive an offer to stay put — or perhaps even by the offer itself — is truly anybody’s guess. Regardless, his final race behind the wheel of the No. 8 Honda is now just a few weeks away.
Andretti Autosport has long been believed to be Ericsson’s top landing spot for next year, either behind the wheel of the No. 28 Honda as Romain Grosjean’s replacement or behind the wheel of the No. 29 Honda as Devlin DeFrancesco’s replacement.
Nothing has changed as far as the belief that this move will be announced, and it is looking more and more likely that both seats will be open.
But with Palou not joining Arrow McLaren, could Ericsson be a candidate to replace Felix Rosenqvist and take over their third seat?
It’s no secret that he is on Zak Brown’s radar, but given the impressive history of Ericsson’s management team, a deal with Michael Andretti’s team seems more likely.
Ericcson’s camp have demonstrated before that they aren’t keen on waiting around and risking open seats becoming filled. By the time it was announced that Palou would not be moving to Arrow McLaren, it was probably a little bit late.
The move would give Andretti Autosport one of the most consistent drivers on the grid and a proven race winner to pair alongside young race winners Colton Herta and Kyle Kirkwood as the organization aims to win a championship for the first time since 2012 and an Indy 500 for the first time since 2017.
David Malukas, who is set to leave Dale Coyne Racing at the end of the 2023 season, has been the name most often linked to the fourth seat. Of note, Malukas’ stats as a rookie with Dale Coyne Racing in 2022 — top 10 finishes, podium finishes, championship finish, and average finish — all matched those of Palou from his 2020 rookie season with the team.