Today’s question: Chip Ganassi Racing was the top-performing organization of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, placing three cars in the top six of the standings and finishing with the best average in entrant points among full-time competitors. The teams finished in this order last season: CGR, Team Penske, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Arrow McLaren SP, Meyer Shank Racing, Andretti Autosport, Ed Carpenter Racing, Dale Coyne Racing, AJ Foyt Racing and Carlin. Which team do you think is most likely to improve its standing in 2022, and why?
Curt Cavin: Team Penske’s average should drop with Scott McLaughlin (15th in entrant points) in his second INDYCAR season and the team fielding three cars instead of four, and that might be enough to overtake Chip Ganassi Racing. The safer pick to climb higher is Andretti Autosport, which could see Colton Herta finishing better than fifth, Alexander Rossi stronger than 10th in a contract year, and Romain Grosjean pushing the No. 28 car up from 18th. But there are so many new variables to the upcoming season that it’s almost impossible to predict.
Zach Horrall: I think you’ll see a noticeable improvement in entrant points with Arrow McLaren SP. Pato O’Ward is certainly going to be a championship contender again this season, so with second in the standings, or even first, on the line, that should help. But the real improvement will come from Felix Rosenqvist, who finished 21st in the standings in 2021. Now granted, Rosenqvist missed two races due to that accident at Belle Isle, but still, it wasn’t a great first season with the team for him. The team has been open about how it’s adjusting its setup to better suit the driver of the No. 7 in 2022, and they’ve paired him up with engineer Craig Hampson, which is a big get for Rosenqvist. I think that’s a recipe for at least a top 10 in the championship standings for 2022.
Paul Kelly: Andretti Autosport, without a doubt. Colton Herta should finish in the top two or three, Alexander Rossi is bound for a big improvement in a contract year after a disappointing finish of 10th in 2021, and Romain Grosjean appears to be a contender for a top-10 finish in the points if his oval performances are at least solid. Devlin DeFrancesco faces a learning year as a rookie, but he is replacing James Hinchcliffe, who finished 20th. So even DeFrancesco’s inexperience probably won’t hurt the team’s points haul that much. The 2022 season should be a big bounce-back year after a disappointing 2021 for Andretti, returning the team to the “Big Three” or “Big Four” club status it enjoyed in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for so many seasons before last year.