IndyCar: Chip Ganassi Racing still have one question to answer

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

While Alex Palou has been confirmed by Chip Ganassi as a part of his team’s 2024 IndyCar driver lineup, there is still one spot open.

Chip Ganassi Racing entered 2023 IndyCar silly season knowing that they faced the possibility of losing both Alex Palou and Marcus Ericsson, the drivers who occupied the top two positions in the championship standings at the time.

Palou seemed destined to leave for Arrow McLaren following a contract dispute involving himself, Chip Ganassi Racing, and McLaren during the summer of 2022, and Ericsson seemed destined to leave for any team willing to provide him with a paycheck instead of the other way around.

While Palou ended up reneging on his supposed McLaren deal, a scenario that actually looked more and more likely in the days leading up to Zak Brown’s disgruntled announcement, Ericsson indeed left for Andretti Autosport, despite having supposedly been given a formal contract offer to stay put behind the wheel of the No. 8 Honda.

Chip Ganassi has said that Palou will indeed be back in 2024 to defend his second IndyCar championship, and there was never any doubt that Scott Dixon, this year’s series runner-up, would also be back for attempt number four to win title number seven. The team confirmed 2022 Indy Lights champion Linus Lundqvist as Ericsson’s replacement.

What will Chip Ganassi Racing do about their fourth seat for the 2024 IndyCar season?

Marcus Armstrong, who has driven the No. 11 Honda in the road and street course races throughout the 2023 season, has long made clear that his goal is to be promoted to a full-time role. He certainly looks to be the odds-on favorite to drive the car full-time in 2024, as he should be.

Jimmie Johnson was in Armstrong’s exact role in 2021, and despite a much less impressive stint as a rookie driver which saw him finish no higher than 17th place, he was promoted to full-time in 2022.

Armstrong has been extremely consistent behind the wheel in 2023, and to a team whose top two drivers — the top two overall drivers in the series — have combined for 31 top eight finishes in 32 starts this year, that should certainly be viewed as a valuable asset.

But one has to wonder why, after 11 starts, he has not yet been confirmed by the team for 2024, yet all Ganassi needed to see from Lundqvist to confirm him as the replacement for an Indy 500 winner was two starts — and only one finish — with Meyer Shank Racing.

And that’s not to take anything away from Lundqvist, either. I think he will have an immediate impact at IndyCar’s top team, and aside from the Indy 500, he might actually be an overall upgrade over Ericsson, whose stint with the team will conclude with either four or five victories.

Armstrong is the runaway Rookie of the Year leader, despite having missed the five oval races, and even with a few recent lackluster results, the 23-year-old New Zealander consistently runs in the top 10 throughout the majority of race weekends.

Next. All-time IndyCar wins list. dark

All things considered, Armstrong will likely be confirmed as Chip Ganassi Racing’s fourth full-time driver for 2024, at which point the next question will be whether or not they run a fifth Indy 500 entry for Takuma Sato — or somebody else.