IndyCar: Chip Ganassi has a chance to do the funniest thing

Alexander Rossi, seventh in the IndyCar standings, is suddenly the top free agent on the market. Don't underestimate Chip Ganassi's ability to one-up Zak Brown.
Chip Ganassi, Chip Ganassi Racing, Indy 500, IndyCar
Chip Ganassi, Chip Ganassi Racing, Indy 500, IndyCar / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Chip Ganassi Racing are a championship-winning organization that are effectively a tale of two teams at the moment. Alex Palou and Scott Dixon have combined to win four of the six most recent titles and account for eight of the 12 won by active full-time drivers, while the team's other three drivers had never competed full-time until 2024.

While Palou leads the championship standings with two wins and Dixon sits in fourth place with two of his own, the rest of the team is struggling.

Marcus Armstrong and rookie Linus Lundqvist each have a podium finish, but consistency is lacking. Armstrong is 15th in points while Lundqvist is 17th. Armstrong also took out Lundqvist on the opening lap at Road America, a disastrous situation after Lundqvist qualified on pole with Armstrong on row two in third.

Kyffin Simpson has finished no higher than 12th place and sits in 21st in points, but his father David's company is major Chip Ganassi Racing sponsor Ridgeline Lubricants. So him retaining his seat makes as much sense as it did for the reigning championship-winning team to expand to five cars in 2024, however you choose to view that approach.

While Lundqvist is a former Indy Lights (Indy NXT) champion and Armstrong has shown promise since joining the team in a part-time role last year, Ganassi hasn't always been patient when it comes to new signings in the past.

He signed 2016 Indy Lights champion Ed Jones in 2018 after Jones had an impressive rookie season with Dale Coyne Racing, and that relationship lasted just one lackluster season. Yet even Jones scored two podium finishes that year and finished in 13th place in the standings.

Now Alexander Rossi is suddenly available. Would Ganassi dare?

Alexander Rossi and Arrow McLaren reportedly couldn't come to terms on a new deal for the 2025 season, and that is what is said to have led to the breakup after just two seasons. The team have signed Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Christian Lundgaard to drive the No. 7 Chevrolet instead.

While there have been a lot of somewhat questionable developments involving "parting ways amicably" going on at Zak Brown's team over the last few months, perhaps Rossi does indeed have an offer on that table that McLaren couldn't match, with the hot rumor indicating that he is being pursued by the incoming Prema Racing.

In that case, it's hard to imagine Chip Ganassi being willing to pay Rossi what he wants, whatever that may be; just look at Marcus Ericsson's post-2023 departure, which came after he had finished the two most recent Indy 500s in first and second place.

But Rossi is still performing at a high level. He just finished on the podium at Laguna Seca, and he sits in seventh place in the championship standings, just 35 points behind teammate and Arrow McLaren leader Pato O'Ward in third. Rossi has not finished in the top eight since 2019, when he finished third with Andretti Autosport (Andretti Global).

The 32-year-old Californian has six top five finishes in nine Indy 500 starts, including a win in 2016, a runner-up finish in 2019, and three straight finishes of fifth or fourth from 2022 to 2024. The other? He drove from 32nd to fourth in a 2018 race which saw very little passing amid the introduction of the new UAK18.

Chip Ganassi Racing seem to have the upper hand over Team Penske at the moment, which is crucial in a series that has seen only those two teams win any of the 11 most recent championships. But Roger Penske has three consistent threats to win races in Josef Newgarden, Will Power, and Scott McLaughlin. Ganassi only has two.

Let's also not forget that signing Rossi and having success would be a major win for Ganassi over his archrival Brown. Brown recently fell to 0-for-2 in the Palou sweepstakes, with Ganassi retaining the Spaniard in 2023 after McLaren believed they had him under contract. Palou himself then backed out of his McLaren deal to remain in the No. 10 Honda for 2024.

Brown letting a high-level driver in Rossi walk away, only for him to end up at Chip Ganassi Racing, would be almost poetic.

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It's hard to imagine Chip Ganassi Racing pulling the trigger and signing Rossi to the kind of deal he wants, but this is arguably the only possible deal involving IndyCar's top remaining free agent that has true potential to impact the 2025 championship.