Sato Signs with Ganassi for Ovals

As expected, 2 time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato was confirmed as for the oval portion of the number 11 car with Chip Ganassi Racing. Sato has won 6 Indycar races including the 500 in 2017 and 2020. Three of his wins have come on ovals. Marcus Armstrong will drive the 11 on road and street courses. He also has earned10 poles. Sato has driven for Andretti Autosport, A. J. Foyt Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and Dale Coyne Racing in his Indycar career.

The announcement from Chip Ganassi Racing:

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato will join Chip Ganassi Racing in 2023 to pilot the No. 11 Honda in oval competition, while Marcus Armstrong will drive the road and street course races.

Sato brings more than two decades of experience racing at the highest level of the sport to the defending Indianapolis 500 winners who have won 14 INDYCAR SERIES championships, including nine across the past 15 seasons of competition.

“First of all, I would like to thank Chip and Mike for helping put this all together. I am extremely excited to join Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2023 season,” said Sato. “The organization has been at the top of our sport for decades and needless to say, extremely competitive. Focusing on the oval races is a new chapter for me but I’m thrilled to have the ability to race with team members and teammates that have won the championships and Indianapolis 500 in the past, which is a tremendous advantage. I just can’t wait to get started.”

“What a terrific opportunity to have Takuma Sato drive our No. 11 Honda INDYCAR on the ovals in 2023. He is a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner who contributes with the experience of knowing how to win, by matching the strength of his three teammates, which equals four who race as one,” said Managing Director Mike Hull. “Chip Ganassi Racing looks forward to the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500.”

Sato has raced in the INDYCAR SERIES over the past 13 seasons, where he has earned six wins, 14 podiums and 10 pole positions. Sato has made 215 career INDYCAR SERIES starts, the sixth-most among active drivers and the 22nd-most in all-time history.

Sato is the most recent driver to attain multiple wins in the Indianapolis 500, capturing victories in 2020 and 2017. Sato’s first victory in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing came after re-claiming the lead with just six laps to go, etching his mark in the history books as the first Japanese driver to ever win the race. Then in 2020, he won the race for the second time after starting from the front row in P3 position.

Prior to his INDYCAR career, Sato raced in Formula 1 for seven seasons (2002-08). He earned 44 points with one podium appearance across 90 career series starts. Sato registered a top-10 finish in the Formula 1 points standings in 2004, where he achieved his podium finish at the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Sato also won the British Formula 3 championship in 2001, earning 12 wins as well as victories in the Marlboro Masters of F3 at Zandvoort, and the prestigious Macau F3 GP.

Source: Chip Ganassi Racing

Marcus Armstong Joins CGR for 2023 Road and Street Courses

In a bit of a surprise move, Marcus Armstrong will drive for Chip Ganassi Racing in the 2023 season. Armstrong was rumored to be the full time driver of the number 51 Dale Coyne with Rick Ware entry.

The announouncement from CGR:

Chip Ganassi Racing announced today that Marcus Armstrong will drive the No. 11 Honda in road and street course races across the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. 

“I’m ecstatic to be a part of the INDYCAR SERIES, but especially with Chip Ganassi Racing because it is such an iconic and successful team. I have an extraordinary opportunity in front of me to learn from people that have been performing at the absolute highest level in this sport,” said Armstrong. “As a Kiwi, I’ve always watched Scott Dixon succeed in the championship with this team, so on a personal level this is quite special for me. I am a hard worker that looks to improve every single day. With the knowledge and personnel that this team has, I’m very excited to take on this new challenge.”

“Marcus driving the No. 11 car for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2023 is exciting. As a 22-year-old, what is in common to others who have climbed into INDYCAR with CGR is that at that age he already knows how to win,” said Mike Hull, Managing Director of Chip Ganassi Racing: “That’s been repeatedly proven at the highest global level. Besides talent, the intangible that he brings creates measurement through opportunity. Bring on 2023!”

Armstrong, 22, is set to make his North American professional debut after competing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship from 2020 to 2022 where he earned four wins and eight podiums. Armstrong scored his first victory in the series in 2021 at Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia, and then registered three wins across the 2022 campaign in Italy, Austria and the Netherlands. Armstrong also served as a development driver for the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team in 2021.

The Christchurch, New Zealand, native launched his racing career behind the wheel of go-karts at 10 years old. He won five go-karting national championships in New Zealand before moving to Europe in 2015 to compete on the world stage. In 2017, Armstrong made the jump to Formula 4 where he won the Italian Formula 4 championship in his first season competing in the series. Armstrong competed in Formula 3 across the 2018 and 2019 seasons, where he tallied four wins, four pole positions and 16 podiums. 

Armstrong is set to meet his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates in Indianapolis next week. He will become the first driver in Chip Ganassi Racing history to pilot a No. 11 entry when he races the Streets of St. Petersburg on March 5. 

Chip Ganassi Racing will share an update on the driver of the No. 11 Honda for oval races at a later date. 

Source: Chip Ganassi Racing

Marcus Ericsson Joins Speedway Legends 0n The Borg Warner Trophy

The image of 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson is now on the Borg warner trophy, fixing his place oi Speedway history. The unveiling took place this morning at Union 50 in downtown Indianapolis. Through 2018, the winner’s image unveiling was a small public affair at the IMS Museum. In 2019 Simon Pagenaud first saw his face on the trophy in France. Helio Castroneves’ mage for 2021 occurred at the PRI show.

Following a short clip of the end of the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500, a brief video message from Kenny Brack,, the 1999 winner, and a fellow Swede of Ericsson, played.

IMS resident Doug Boles and Borg Warner representative Michelle Collins introduced Ericsson, who removed the covering from the trophy bas and had his first look of his face on the trophy.

Today’s affair was an elegant event that the Penske footprint all over it. A luncheon followed the invitation only ceremony.

Indycar photo

The likeness is one of the more authentic ones in the last few years. I have felt many of the recent image son the trophy looked pretty much the same. Ericsson’s image is very true to life.

Doug Boles introduces Ericsson

The crew of the number 8 Huski Chocolate car

Ericsson’s Image Added to Borg Warner Thursday

From IMS- Invitation only, but streaming available.

Ericsson To Unveil Image on Borg-Warner Trophy
Thursday in Indianapolis
 
 Marcus Ericsson will unveil his likeness on the Borg-Warner Trophy as the winner of the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge at 11:30 a.m. ET Thursday, Oct. 27 at Union 50 in downtown Indianapolis.
Ericsson, from Sweden, won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for the first time May 29 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Ericsson and other special guests will be available for interviews following the ceremony at Union 50, a restaurant located on 620 N. East St. in the popular Mass Ave section of Indianapolis.
Fans can watch the invitation-only event live on IMS.com and the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.

Palou, Rosenqvist Stay Put

In the end, it was much ado about nothing. Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist will stay with the teams they raced for in 2022 next year. In nearly simultaneous announcements, both drivers and teams declared that 2023 will be status quo.

Palou in Victory Circle Sunday

Palou had indicated mid- season that he had signed with McLaren on the heels of a Ganassi announcement that his contract with the team has been extended. Palou ended the season with a win in the final race of the year at Laguna Seca last Sunday. He was fifth in the final standings. From Palou’s Twitter account:

“I’m also grateful that @CGRTeams will allow me to pursue F1 testing with @McLarenF1 outside of my INDYCAR commitment.

·Thank you Chip, Mike and the entire team for your willingness to work together and help support both the team and my personal goals throughout this process. “

Rosenqvist’s ride with Arrow McLaren SP was on the line this past season. He finished eighth in the standings, one spot behind teammate Pato O’Ward. Rosenqvist had one pole this season, at Texas. He had signed an extension with the team, but it was not specific as to which series Rosenqvist would be assigned to.

In the team’s news release, Rosenqvist said,

“There’s no better way to enter the off-season than with this news! I love this team, and I’m so happy to continue working with all the incredible people I’ve gotten to know over the past two seasons. With everything the team has in the pipeline, the continuing relationship with Pato and the addition of Alex Rossi, we are going to bring our A-game for 2023. It will be the most exciting season for me so far. Let it be March already!”

Ganassi Sues Palou

Photo by Chris Jones, Indycar

Chip Ganassi racing has filed a lawsuit in Marion County, Indiana, against Alex Palou, a driver for the team and current NTT Indycar Series champion. The complaint was sealed, but the suit likely involves Palou allegedly signing with McLaren for next season even though Ganassi exercised their 2023 option on Palou.

A team spokesperson said that Palou will drive the 10 car in this weekend’s Gallagher Grand Prix at IMS and is expected to drive the remaining 2022 races.

The filing

Ganassi has requested expedited discovery, within two weeks. as he wants to resolve this case as soon as possible.

I think this case will drag on awhile. McLaren said today they will not buy out Palou’s Ganassi contract, so a settlement doesn’t appear likely.

The implications for Palou’s Indycar career are troubling. Should he not work out at McLaren, I don’t think another Indycar team will touch him. McLaren has not even said that Palou will drive one of their cars in the series next season. AMSP driver Felix Rosenqvist said last weekend that he doesn’t think Palou will be driving at all next year.

It would be a shame if Indycar loses one of its brightest future stars, who already has a championship, because a team is trying to hoard all the top talent in the series.

I thought having a legendary brand like McLaren in the series was going to be great for the series. I really don’t like what they are doing. Their signing tactics are not good for the series as a whole.

I wrote about this subject just a few days ago:

Draining the Talent Pool

Poaching Season- McLaren Palou Announcement Follows Ganassi Option News

Marvin Gaye sums up the day’s news best. I posted a news release from Chip Ganassi Racing announcing the team is picking up its 2023 option on Alex Palou. I went out for a couple hours, come home and find out Palou has signed with McLaren.

McLaren is building up a strong lineup of drivers. So far, only Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi have definite spots in the Indycar program. My understanding is Palou’s spot is not named. I will do some digging tonight nd tomorrow and hope to get some clarity tomorrow.

At any rate, another level of drama has been added to the second half of the Indycar season. Make sure your popcorn makers are working.

Ganassi Picks Up 2023 Option on Palou

Chip Ganassi Racing exercised its 2023 option to retain defending NTT Indycar Series champion Alex Palou today. The news release from the team:

Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that the team has exercised its option to extend Alex Palou through the 2023 season.

Palou won CGR’s 14th INDYCAR SERIES championship in 2021, also becoming the first Spaniard to ever win the season title.

“Alex’s track record speaks for itself,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “He’s a proven champion and one of the most formidable drivers in the world. We are very excited to continue working together.”

The defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion has continued to impress this year, securing his 12th podium finish in his 25th career race with Chip Ganassi Racing at Mid-Ohio.

Palou will return to the CGR fold for his third season with the team next year.

“It’s a great feeling knowing I’ll be back with Chip Ganassi Racing next season,” said Alex Palou. “The team welcomed me with open arms from day one, and I’m excited to continue working with Chip, Mike Hull, the folks on the No. 10 NTT DATA car and everyone within the organization. The goals remain the same and we will continue to work relentlessly towards achieving them.”

The CGR team heads north this weekend where Alex Palou will race for the first time in Canada at the Honda Indy Toronto.

About Chip Ganassi Racing

Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the auto racing industry for over 30 years and is considered one of the most successful and innovative owners in motorsports. Today, his teams include four Honda cars in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, two Cadillac Dpi’s in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and one GMC Hummer EV in Extreme E. Overall, his teams have 21 championships and more than 240 victories, including five wins in the Indianapolis 500, eight Rolex 24 At Daytona victories, and wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ganassi boasts state-of-the-art facilities in Indianapolis, where INDYCAR, IMSA and Extreme E teams are located, and a corporate office in Pittsburgh. For more information, visit, www.chipganassiracing.com.

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500 Wrap Up- Feels Like Old Times

Marcus Ericsson celebrates with car owner Chip Ganassi. Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Everything about yesterday’s 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 felt like a race day in the 1980s- the huge crowd, the electric tingling buzz in the atmosphere, even the way the race played out- had an 80s feel to it. Roger Penske and Doug Boles have worked hard to restore the glory of the 500 after two devastating years of the pandemic. The real proof of their success will be in seeing the momentum of 2022 continuing for the next several years.

The Speedway expected 300,000 fans. i think they had more than that. It was great to see the stands packed again. G stand, where I sit, was fuller than I’ve ever seen it, including in 2016. The infield crowd across the way was definitely larger than I ever recall.

The Race- Classic Style

This was not the best 500 I’ve ever seen, but it was far from the worst. It was darn good race, though. Most of the drama came in the pits where strong pre race favorites Alex Palou and Scott Dixon lost their chances at winning.

The race had a feel of a race in the 1980s, where a strong favorite would dominate only to drop out out of contention due to some misfortune. Yellows occurred at untimely moments, jumbling the field. One driver, usually a darkhorse like Marcus Ericsson, would emerge victorious.

The Lost Boys of Indy

Two teams that used to dominate Indy, Team Penske and Andretti Autosport, have been MIA the last two years. Yesterday Josef Newgardens’s 13th place finish was the best for the team. Both Newgarden and Will Power had issues in the pits. neither was a serious threat to win.

Alexander Rossi’s fifth place finish salvaged a miserable day for Andretti. Rookie Devlin DeFrancesco was the next best on the team with a 20th place result.

Rookies

The four rookies with long term futures finished in a tight pack from 16th to 20th, with veteran Ed Carpenter in 19th. David Malukas ran a steady pace all day and ended 16th after starting 13th. Kyle Kirkwood arguably had the best drive of the day among the rookies, coming from 28th on the grid to come home 17th.

Christian Lungaard finished 18th. Crashes took out Jimmie Johnson, Callum Ilott, and Romain Grosjean.

Red Flag

I still maintain that the red flag was a horrible call and did nothing to enhance the finish. I will die on this hill. Fans are not entitled to a green flag finish. Some races just don’t have exciting finishes. This is not a video game.

The race ended under yellow anyway, so stopping the race was a moot point. If track safety structures weren’t compromised, there is no need for a red flag in that situation.

21st Century Mario?

Scott Dixon at driver introductions yesterday. Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Scott Dixon is becoming the new Mario Andretti. He has one Indianapolis 500 victory, which is a great accomplishment. He also has six Indycar titles and needs just one more win to tie Andretti for second place on the career win list.

Yesterday Dixon passed Al Unser for the most laps led in 500 history.

Like Mario, Dixon has had multiple chances to win a second 500 and has come up short. Similarly, he does not need to win a second 500 to seal his legacy. Dixon is one of the all time greats in Indycar racing no matter how many 500s he has won.

His role, however, is becoming clear as his window of opportunity narrows. Dixon will be an excellent ambassador for the sport when he retires as the mantle passes from Mario.