IndyCar’s top team opts for three rookies in 2024 lineup

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

Chip Ganassi Racing won more than half of the races on the 2023 IndyCar schedule. Now they plan to enter the 2024 season with two rookies — three for the Indy 500 — in their lineup.

One year after being beaten by Team Penske for the for the first time since the 2019 IndyCar season, Chip Ganassi Racing responded with a vengeance in 2023, winning nine of the 17 races on the schedule.

Though Chip Ganassi had to watch his rivals secure their 19th Indy 500 victory with a last-lap pass on their own reigning race winner, his drivers were able to secure the team their first 1-2 finish since 2009. Team Penske had recorded five such finishes since 2014.

Additionally, no Team Penske drivers were in championship contention with two races remaining for the first time since 2007, and two-time champion Alex Palou became the first driver to completely seal a title before the finale since Dan Wheldon in 2005. Six-time champion Scott Dixon placed second, something he surprisingly had not done in 14 years.

The status of IndyCar’s best team has shifted over the last decade on multiple occasions, but even as optimism has surrounded teams such as Arrow McLaren and Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske have won 11 straight titles, with only one driver from another team managing a single runner-up finish during that span.

Whether or not it shifts again in the 2024 IndyCar season remains to be seen.

But as of now, IndyCar’s best team is Chip Ganassi Racing. And suddenly IndyCar’s best team has a driver lineup consisting of three rookies.

Not that anybody expected otherwise, but Dixon is set to return for a 23rd season. Palou is also set return for a fourth year after Zak Brown and company fell to 0-2 in the annual Alex Palou sweepstakes, despite having been heavily favored this time around.

The rest of the team’s lineup consists of Linus Lundqvist, Marcus Armstrong, and Kyffin Simpson, three drivers who have made a combined 15 IndyCar starts and whose average age is roughly half of Dixon’s.

While there figure to be four teams with more than two cars among IndyCar’s other nine organizations, no other team even has more than three total drivers under contract for 2024, though that could change depending on Andretti Global’s decision on a fourth entry.

Lundqvist is set to replace the Andretti-bound Marcus Ericsson, Armstrong is now a full-time driver after winning Rookie of the Year honors in a road and street course role, and Simpson received an unexpected promotion after less than two full seasons in Indy NXT as the team’s development driver.

And yes, we know that Armstrong isn’t theoretically a rookie — after all, you can’t win the award twice — but when he shows up to the Indy 500, there will indeed be an (R) beside his name. He has zero oval experience.

In fact, the only oval start between the trio of full-time newcomers is Lundqvist’s Meyer Shank Racing relief appearance for Simon Pagenaud at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in August.

As for Simpson, he is coming off of a 10th place finish in Indy NXT with two podium finishes. His father’s Ridgeline Lubricants company has been a major backer of Chip Ganassi Racing since he was signed by the team as their development driver in May 2022.

Set to turn 19 in October, is he truly ready for the step up to the top level, or is this promotion more of a sponsorship-based decision by the team?

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The 17-race 2024 IndyCar season is scheduled to start on Sunday, March 10 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida once again.