A tire from a Sebring test

INDYCAR fans worldwide love talking about the series and its talented drivers and teams, discussing anything from current performance to fun “what ifs?”

The writers at INDYCAR.com are no different.

With that in mind, it’s time to introduce a new roundtable discussion for INDYCAR.com. The three panelists have different perspectives but share a passion for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and its events. They’ll discuss and analyze topics throughout the year, hopefully stimulating thought and conversation for readers and maybe a few laughs.

Curt Cavin has worked every Indianapolis 500 since 1988 and covered each of the Formula One and MotoGP events, plus the first 23 NASCAR events, held at the iconic track during his reporting days at The Indianapolis Star.

Paul Kelly’s motorsports experience is even more diverse, having worked in editorial and public relations in Indy cars, sports cars and drag racing since 1993. He also covered NASCAR, short-track and motorcycle racing as a newspaper reporter in upstate New York in the late 80s and early 90s and is the Speedway’s resident MotoGP and Isle of Man TT freak.

Zach Horrall is clearly the newbie of this group, but his love for the sport is deeply rooted, growing from a childhood passion to a reporting job in college at The Indianapolis Star, covering the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR and drag racing before joining IMS in 2019.

Today’s question: What are you most looking forward to about private INDYCAR team testing Jan. 18-19 at Sebring?

Curt Cavin: Jimmie Johnson’s participation is the obvious answer, and Scott McLaughlin’s transition will be carefully watched when Team Penske heads to Sebring in a couple of weeks. But for me, an undervalued move of the offseason was Alex Palou’s to Chip Ganassi Racing. The Spaniard showed promise last year at Dale Coyne Racing, often racing stronger in the second race of the doubleheader. Can he take the next step? I also think Marcus Ericsson’s second year with Ganassi’s team is worth special attention.

Paul Kelly: Man, there are a lot of intriguing angles to keep an eye on next Monday and Tuesday at Sebring. Curt and Zach mention some good storylines to follow among many. But my eyes will be on Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Arrow McLaren SP at the old Florida airport racetrack. Those teams made big steps forward in 2020 and appear to be the most likely candidates to expand the series’ “Big Three” of Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport to a “Fantastic Four” or “Ferocious Five.” RLL returns with its lineup of reigning Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal, while AMSP welcomes Felix Rosenqvist from Ganassi to its full-season lineup, joining Pato O’Ward. The increasing quality of RLL and AMSP is just another reflection of just how deep and competitive INDYCAR will be in 2021.

Zach Horrall: I will have a careful eye on the AJ Foyt Racing teammates. It’s no secret the Foyt cars have struggled lately, but the addition of Sebastien Bourdais to the team and his impressive fourth-place finish in the 2020 season finale at St. Petersburg make me wonder if the iconic team hit on something. Can Bourdais continue with the pace he had in October, where he qualified seventh? I’m also eager to see how Dalton Kellett performs after a year of road courses under his belt. I’ve been eagerly waiting for this duo to prove whether St. Pete was a false dawn or the start of a new era for the legend. Now, it’s time.