Photo by Kyle McInnes
It’s time for my annual projection of how I think each team will perform in the NTT Indycar Series in 2020. This is the first of three parts on a team by team breakdown.
Driver stability looks to be an issue once again for this team. Carlin placed only one car in the Indianapolis 500. Max Chilton chose to not run ovals. Charlie Kimball ran just seven races. Conor Daly did a decent job running the ovals, but he is no longer available.
With Chilton returning for the road courses in car 59. the team still has to find a driver for the ovals for that car and a full time driver for the 31. While it looks as if Felipe Nasr may drive most of the races in the second car, nothing is confirmed. Nasr would be a great addition to an already talented grid. He was quick at the COTA test.
Carlin will struggle, especially the first half of the year. If they can get affirm driver lineup before St. Pete, we could see some progress after the Indianapolis 500.
Optimism abounds at A. J. Foyt Racing. A new driver lineup, which I think is a bit of improvement, makes the outlook brighter. Charlie Kimball has the full time ride in car 4. His engineering background should help the team improve. Three drivers will share car 14. I think the first driver in it holds the key to their season.
Sebastien Bourdais will be in the 14 for the first three races of 2020. I believe that is how long Foyt has to get everything in place for the rest of the year. Between Kimball’s engineering and Bourdais’s experience, the team has a great opportunity to set up for a successful season. The unknown factor is how rookie Dalton Kellett does in his eight road/street events.
Tony Kanaan will drive the 14 in the oval races as he phases out his career as a regular in the series. Ovals have been the strong suit for Foyt. Kanaan has qualified well at Indianapolis and finished third at Gateway last season.
I think the team will be better than last year. I can see a couple more top tens and possibly a few second round entries in road and street course qualifying.
2019 wasn’t a terrible season for cars under the Coyne umbrella, but they were expecting a bit more. I think one car will improve while the second car may surprise some people but have a few hiccups along the way. Santino Ferrucci moves to the 18 car for his second Indycar season. Rookie Alex Palou, who looked decent at Spring Training, is in the 19.
The team lost engineer Craig Hampson, who went to Arrow McLaren SP, and had some other personnel changes as well. This may change the dynamic a bit at Coyne, but they are such a close knit group that the effects should be minimal.
Ferrucci had many flashes of brilliance last year and ended third in the Rookie of the Year standings. He was Rookie of the Year at Indianapolis. Ferrucci seems to have a natural knack for ovals. He was in contention for the win at Gateway. He is my dark horse candidate for a season top 10 finish.
Alex Palou could surprise some people. He won’t have Ferrucci’s 2019 advantage of an experienced teammate, but he is quick. How long it takes to channel that quickness to the nuances of an Indycar weekend will determine how his year goes. He joins a very talented rookie class, which I’ll discuss next week. The Indycar youth movement continues.
Coyne should have some slightly better results this season, especially from Ferrucci.
Tomorrow- Ed Carpenter Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Meyer Shank Racing, and Arrow McLaren SP.