IndyCar: Top landing spot off the table after surprise announcement

Nolan Siegel has signed a multi-year contract to drive for Arrow McLaren, starting with this weekend's IndyCar race at Laguna Seca.
Callum Ilott, Arrow McLaren, Indy 500, IndyCar
Callum Ilott, Arrow McLaren, Indy 500, IndyCar / Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar / USA TODAY

Things have changed quite a bit since Arrow McLaren's initial plan was to have two-time IndyCar champion Alex Palou driving the No. 6 Chevrolet full-time for the 2024 season (really, the 2023 season...) and beyond.

After Palou confirmed his stay at Chip Ganassi Racing, Arrow McLaren signed David Malukas from Dale Coyne Racing to be the replacement for the Meyer Shank Racing-bound Felix Rosenqvist.

But a preseason wrist injury led to Malukas being sidelined for the start of the season, and after Callum Ilott and Theo Pourchaire each filled in for him in select events, the team ultimately decided to cut ties with Malukas in late April.

They named Ilott the driver of the No. 6 Chevrolet for the 108th running of the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pourchaire the driver of the car for the rest of the season.

Arrow McLaren confirm driver change for 2024, 2025

Two races into what was supposed to be a 12-race run with Arrow McLaren to end the 2024 season, the reigning Formula 2 champion has now been replaced by three-time Indy NXT race winner Nolan Siegel, starting with this Sunday afternoon's race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Given McLaren's past handling of certain driver contracts, including whatever clause allowed them to oust Pourchaire in mid-June after having previously confirmed him until the end of the 2024 season, there will undoubtedly be questions about Siegel's deal if his results aren't where the team want them to be after a few races. Pourchaire's top finish from five races was 10th place in Detroit.

However, it must be said that Siegel's new deal is a multi-year deal, which presumably keeps him with the team through at least the 2025 season. As a result, what was the top remaining seat in this year's silly season, following Josef Newgarden's contract extension with Team Penske, is now off the table.

The news ironically came just days before Malukas is set to return to IndyCar at Meyer Shank Racing, which is where the driver he was due to replace at Arrow McLaren now competes full-time. It means that Arrow McLaren, which were supposedly in search of stability when they opted to cut ties with him, technically had no need to do so.

Siegel has made three starts so far in the 2024 IndyCar season, including one in the exhibition race at the Thermal Club. He also failed to qualify for the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had competed exclusively for Dale Coyne Racing until the most recent race at Road America, where he replaced Agustin Canapino at Juncos Hollinger Racing.

Ironically, it was an incident between Pourchaire and Canapino on the streets of Detroit, Michigan which led to Canapino's unexpected absence. Now in a matter of two races, the 19-year-old Palo Alto, California native has replaced both.

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Sunday's Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey is set to be broadcast live on USA Network from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and don't miss Nolan Siegel's Arrow McLaren debut!