IndyCar: Ganassi adds another new driver in surprise move

Scott Dixon, Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Scott Dixon, Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Kyffin Simpson is set to compete full-time for Chip Ganassi Racing in the 2024 IndyCar season as the team’s fifth full-time driver.

Chip Ganassi Racing announced a third new addition to their full-time lineup for the 2024 IndyCar season on Monday, and this one was somewhat of a surprise.

Indy NXT driver Kyffin Simpson is set to join the team as their fifth driver next year, with his car number to be announced at a later date. The Barbadian-Caymanian driver turns 19 next month, making him the youngest driver on next year’s grid.

Simpson, who won the 2021 Formula Regional Americas Championship, signed with Chip Ganassi Racing as their development driver in May 2022 and spent the last two seasons competing in Indy Lights/NXT. He tested an IndyCar for Chip Ganassi’s team for the first time in January at Sebring International Raceway

The move makes Chip Ganassi Racing the first IndyCar team with five full-time entries since Andretti Autosport in 2020.

IndyCar’s most recent five-car full-time lineup consisted of Marco Andretti, Colton Herta, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, and Zach Veach.

Six-time champion Scott Dixon is set to return for a 23rd season with Chip Ganassi Racing while two-time and reigning champion Alex Palou is set to be back for a fourth following another round of contract drama involving himself and McLaren.

2022 Indy NXT champion Linus Lundqvist is set to replace the Andretti Autosport-bound Marcus Ericsson, and Rookie of the Year Marcus Armstrong, who spent the 2023 season competing for the team in the road and street course races while Takuma Sato drove the car in the oval events, was also promoted to a full-time role.

This latest move comes as a bit of a surprise, not just because Chip Ganassi Racing already appeared to be set with their four-car lineup for 2024, but because of Simpson’s Indy NXT results.

Competing for a team whose drivers won the championships in both 2022 and 2023, Simpson registered finishes of ninth and 10th place in the Indy NXT standings and scored just two podium finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Whether or not Simpson’s promotion to IndyCar is premature remains to be seen, but Ganassi has proven on more than one occasion that he knows what he is doing, most recently by making the relatively unexpected decision to sign Palou for 2021.

At the very least, keeping a developing driver in Simpson tied to the organization to avoid a rival team from being able to sign him should work out well in the long run, and having a group of four solid drivers aside from Dixon for once the 43-year-old eventually retires puts the team in an enviable position.

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The 2024 IndyCar schedule has not yet been announced. The season is expected to begin sometime in March on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.