Coyne Adds Palou, Team Goh

The upheaval at Dale Coyne Racing has stopped. It has been a chaotic time at Coyne the last few weeks. Frist, Sebastien Bourdais was let go November 22. Last week engineer Craig Hampson left to become the head engineer at Arrow McLaren SP. Coyne has been silent about the return of Santino Ferrucci, although it appears that announcement will come in a few weeks.

Today, however, it is positive news for the Plainfield, Illinois team. Alex Palou will drive for Coyne as he partners with Team Goh for the 2020 NTT Indycar Series season. Palou, from Spain, drove  Super Formula in 2019. He earned Rookie of the Year with one victory, a series best three poles, and finished third in the points standings. Palou drove for Team Goh in the Super GT Series at Twin Ring Motegi. He put the McLaren 720S on pole in the GT3 on pole, setting a class record.

Team Goh won the 24 Hours of LeMans in 2004 with Seiji Ara, Tom Kristensenand Rinaldo Capello. The team used a black and hot pink livery which will look great on an Indycar. I hope they keep it.

While one question at the team has been answered, there are still several more. Will Ferrucci move to the 18? Who will be the engineer? Will Vasser Sullivan return as part of the team?

Palou Joins Askew, VeeKay in Rookie Class

Palou will compete with Oliver Askew at Arrow McLaren SP and Rinus VeeKay at Ed Carpenter Racing for Rookie of the Year in 2020. In 2019, Ferrucci was in contention for the honor going into the final race at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca. I’m glad to have a third rookie in the field.

Palou’s entry into the series is another step in the changing of the guard. the grid seems to have drivers mainly at the young and the old end of the age spectrum. With Hinchcliffe likely not driving next year, there is a bit of a gap in the middle of the age range.

Seats Still Open

With Coyne fairly solid for 2020, Foyt and Carlin look to be the last teams with nothing confirmed driver wise. There is talk of Charlie Kimball, Dalton Kellett, and Tony Kanaan driving in some combination at Foyt. I have no idea what’s happening at Carlin.



Coyne’s Short List

Three drivers appear to be in the running for the number 18 car in 2020. James Hinchcliffe, who lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP last month; Sergio Sette Camara, who drove in F2 in 2019 and had two wins and eight podiums; and Alex Palou, who scored one win and finished third in the season standings in Super Formula.

While Hinchcliffe would be the most popular choice with the fans, I think the ride will go to one of the other drivers. Palou is likely the front runner. He was impressive at a Coyne test at Mid Ohio. He is also a Honda driver. Sette Camara has done three seasons in Formula 2, and needs to move up. He is also talking with Carlin Racing.

Coyne has not set a deadline for a decision. There may also be a fourth driver in the mix.

Still Quiet at Foyt and Carlin

I’m not confident about hearing any news from Carlin or A. J. Foyt Racing before Christmas. There is simply no news from either camp. We could be in for some surprises from both teams.

Ganassi Out of IMSA for Now

Chip Ganassi Racing will not participate in the IMSA Weather tech Championship for the first time in 16 years. Their GTLM Ford program has ended. Ganassi cars have three overall wins and two class wins at the Rolex 24. The team has not ruled out returning to the series, possibly in the new prototype cars.  More on this story in my Wildfire Sports column tomorrow.