Today’s question: There will be several driver changes for the 2024 season, with some of the most notable being Marcus Ericsson at Andretti Global, Felix Rosenqvist at Meyer Shank Racing, David Malukas at Arrow McLaren and Linus Lundqvist at Chip Ganassi Racing. Which are you most interested in watching?
Curt Cavin: It’s an intriguing bunch, for sure. For now, I’ll say Rosenqvist because I’m interested in seeing if the team can have the form it showed with Lundqvist late in the recently completed season. (Lundqvist turned the fastest lap of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the Nashville street circuit, then backed up that performance with a second consecutive top-12 qualifying effort in the Gallagher Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.) Of all the things that have happened over the past two NTT INDYCAR SERIES seasons, I think the biggest surprise is that MSR couldn’t find traction with Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud in their two seasons together. That was mind-boggling, to be honest. Rosenqvist didn’t win a race in three seasons with Arrow McLaren, but he is one of the most experienced and underrated veterans in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES paddock, and he will enter 2024 with so much hunger to prove himself. Rosenqvist will have had the offseason to fully integrate with the team and for the first time in his five years in the series he will be a team’s lead driver. I’m hoping for big things from the pairing.
Paul Kelly: I’m not intrigued as much by one driver as I am one team – Chip Ganassi Racing. The organization that has won three of the last four NTT INDYCAR SERIES championships is undergoing significant change, moves that either will fortify its position as the best team in the series or perhaps weaken that perch. Where to begin? For starters, the growth from four to five cars will be interesting. An elite team like Ganassi attracts top talent for its cockpits and crew roles, so the infrastructure should be there to handle the extra car. How will Marcus Armstrong adjust to racing a full season, including his adaptation to ovals, after a promising first season on road and street courses that delivered him Rookie of the Year honors? And speaking of rookies, is there a more fascinating tyro tandem on the grid in 2024 than Linus Lundqvist and Kyffin Simpson? Can 2022 INDY NXT by Firestone champion Lundqvist continue the momentum he showed in a transformational super-sub role during the second half of the season with Meyer Shank Racing and blossom into the star that many think he can become? And how will Simpson adapt to the sharp edge of the sword after an INDY NXT by Firestone career that saw flashes of big speed but also inconsistency and no victories? Will he emerge at this level? And finally, the dynamic between the team’s two multiple championship drivers, Scott Dixon and Alex Palou, will be interesting. This is still clearly Dixon’s team, as he is the most successful and legendary driver in CGR history by a mile. But Palou has beaten The Iceman to the Astor Challenge Cup two of the last three seasons, and that won’t sit well with Dixon. It’s pretty rare to see a title-winning team with this much change leading into a new season, and it will be fascinating to see how the dynamics evolve.