Kyffin Simpson will become the youngest driver in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES when he suits up for the 2024 season in a car fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing.
INDY NXT by Firestone graduate Simpson feels ready, and team owner Chip Ganassi and longtime managing director Mike Hull obviously agree with him.
“I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress this year,” said Simpson, who turns 19 on Oct. 9. “I feel like making that next step, I’ll be able to make good progress in INDYCAR, as well.
“Mike and Chip also have faith in me – that helps a lot. It helps me believe that I really can do this.”
A native of the Cayman Islands, Simpson has racked up considerable experience in the past couple of years. He competes in the European Le Mans Series, where he and his two teammates lead the LMP2 standings with three races remaining, and he has scored sports car class victories in IMSA’s 12 Hours of Sebring (LMP2, third place overall) and the Asian Le Mans Series’ 4 Hours of Dubai (LMP2, overall victory).
Simpson first tested an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car in January at Sebring International Raceway. He also has competed in 27 INDY NXT by Firestone races over the past two seasons – the past 19 with HMD Motorsports with CGR – and won the Formula Regional Americas Championship in 2021 after earning seven race wins and two poles. He will be in Belgium this weekend to compete in the European Le Mans Series’ race at Spa-Francorchamps.
“I think it’s helped me in a lot of ways doing all these different series,” Simpson said. “Racing sports cars, I think, has helped a lot with my fuel saving and pit stops, because obviously we don’t do that in INDY NXT (where) you’re just pushing flat out for 35 laps or however long the race is.
“I think doing all that this year was very helpful but also just general racecraft, being in close races with other drivers has been very helpful. (I’ve) just been doing lots of racing this year.”
Simpson has been a CGR development driver since May 2022, which has allowed him to be immersed with the team that has won 15 INDYCAR SERIES championships, including this year when it scored the top two positions in the driver standings with Alex Palou and Scott Dixon while helping Marcus Armstrong win the Rookie of the Year Award. He was on the pit stands of his new teammates at several of this year’s races, including nearly all the on-track sessions for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
All three of those drivers will be teammates of Simpson’s next year, and CGR has added 2022 INDY NXT by Firestone champion Linus Lundqvist, who showed well in three NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season driving for Meyer Shank Racing. It will be the first time the Indianapolis-based organization has fielded five full-time cars in a season.
CGR has had Simpson learning on the simulator, working with various team engineers. Soon, he hopes to have his own group to work with. He’s eager to get started.
“I don’t know what my biggest strength will be in this car as I've not done too many laps in it,” he said. “The last time I drove it was a year ago now. I feel like I've progressed a lot since then.
“We don’t really know when I’ll be able to test next. This season has been very busy, and (the team has) been chasing the championship. (The team) doesn’t usually like to test too much during the year. Also, they’ve been very busy with the hybrid testing getting ready for next year.
“I’m sure I’ll get more seat time in the Indy car, but the one day that I had they were very happy with it.”
Ganassi reaffirmed that with a text this week to his new driver.
“He was just encouraging me, giving me some advice for this upcoming year,” Simpson said. “It’s awesome.
“(I) just couldn’t be happier about it. It’s always been my dream to race in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. To do it with Chip Ganassi Racing -- 15-time (series) champions, five wins – it’s pretty incredible.”