Is O’Ward Now the Big Domino?

Oliver Askew’s time as the NTT Indycar Series top Silly season domino appears to have been short lived. With Friday’s announcement that Pato O’Ward was now free to pursue an Indycar ride, speculation revved up that he would sign with Arrow Mclaren SP. Askew had been considered as a possibility either for that seat as well as a possible part time ride with Chip Ganassi Racing .

Zak Brown, President of McLaren, has been interested in O’Ward for a while. I think it is highly unlikely both Askew and O’Ward would be hired by AMSP. I doubt if the team would want two rookie drivers. While I’m still not sure veteran James Hinchcliffe will return, despite what the team and Hinchcliffe have said, a veteran needs to be in the 5 car. Since the 7 car is looking pretty much to have a rookie in it, this makes a stronger case for Hinchcliffe staying.  This will be the third straight year Hinchcliffe will have a rookie teammate. In 2017 his good friend Robert Wickens joined the team. Last year Marcus Ericsson was in the second car.

Let’s presume O’Ward does join Arrow/McLaren and Askew goes to Ganassi on a part time basis. This scenario virtually assures O’Ward Rookie of the Year. In fact, O’Ward could be the only full time rookie driver in the series in 2020.  Rinus VeeKay may end up in the road course only car at Ed Carpenter Racing, which would limit his chances for top rookie honors for the season. VeeKay could also go to a third car at Dale Coyne Racing. I haven’t heard much about where he is in securing a ride.

For O’Ward, getting a full time Indycar ride would complete a wild roller coaster 2019 for him. He thought he had a full time drive for 2019 with Harding Steinbrenner racing, which fell through at the last minute. After a couple of drives with Carlin and failing to make the field for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500, O’Ward signed a contract with Red Bull. He an a few races in Japan Super Formula before his early release last week. Stay tuned.

Carlin Wants Limits on Bigger Teams

An article by David Malsher Sunday on discussed concerns  Trevor Carlin of Carlin Racing has of the Big Three (Penske, Ganassi, Andretti)  getting too big. Carlin fears there won’t be enough room for teams like his to post good results. Andretti and Ganassi are both planning on an extra car next season.

The link to the story:

I understand his point, but the competition in Indycar is close and the Big Three don’t sweep every race. In 2018, 14 of 51 podium spots, 27% had drivers representing teams outside of the Big Three  The just completed season had similar results with 13 non Big Three podium spots. Last year Penske cars won 9 races, Ganassi 2 and Andretti 2. If you count Colton  Herta as an Andretti car, they won 4. Rahal won the other 2 races. 2019 also saw fewer different winners than the series has had in a while. Wins were limited as the seven winners in 2019 each won multiple races.

Of the four Andretti cars, most weekends Alexander Rossi was the only one in contention. Zach Veach and Marco Andretti  were not factors most places. Felix Rosenqvist had a few good races for Ganassi, but he wasn’t always fighting for a podium. Penske driver Will Power didn’t win a race until Pocono in  August.

Opportunities are there. A top ten finish against good competition is a decent result. A. J. Foyt Racing and Dale Coyne Racing show up every week knowing their chances are limited. I thi nk the more cars, the better. Every sport has its dominant teams. You don’t see the lesser teams folding.

There have been season when just two teams won all the races and there have been years where almost every team has won a race. Winning in Indycar isn’t easy. It takes time for newer teams to put everything together just to contend for a win.