Ericsson Stays With Ganassi in Multi Year Deal

From Chip Gnassi Racing:

Marcus Ericsson and Chip Ganassi Racing Continue INDYCAR Partnership in New, Multi-Year Deal

Posted: October 28, 2020 Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that 30-year-old Swede Marcus Ericsson will continue in the No. 8 Honda in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as part of a new, multi-year deal with the team. Partnership details will be announced in the off-season in preparation for the 2021 INDYCAR season and beyond.

NOTES OF INTEREST:

• About Marcus Ericsson: Marcus Ericsson is coming off his first year with Chip Ganassi Racing, finishing 12th in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES standings. Prior to his rookie season in INDYCAR in 2019, the Kumla, Sweden native most recently completed his fifth year in Formula 1 in 2018 with a total of 97 starts. Ericsson is a two-time champion (Formula BMW UK, 2007; Japanese Formula Three, 2009), and has twice claimed the Swedish Junior Racer of the Year award (2007, 2009). Ericsson also previously competed in British Formula Three, GP2 Asia and GP2.

• 2020 Rewind: Ericsson started the season with an entry that didn’t exist the year before, and piloted the No. 8 Honda to a season-best fourth-place finish at Road America. His season-best qualifying result came in the first half of the Gateway doubleheader where he started fourth, and overall he scored nine top-10 finishes in the 14 races in his first year with the organization.

QUOTEBOARD:

• Marcus Ericsson, Driver, No. 8 Honda: “I’m very happy to continue my relationship with Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda and HPD into 2021 and beyond. I want to thank Chip and the whole CGR organization for their trust in me. Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the best teams in motorsports and I’m proud to be part of the team. The season we’ve just finished has been full of potential and I feel confident that with what we’ve learned together this year will help us succeed in 2021. I’m looking forward to getting back in the No. 8 Honda!”

• Mike Hull, Managing Director, Chip Ganassi Racing: “Marcus proved that he belongs here, and this season he contributed to the success of our team greatly. That includes being unselfish to his teammates, especially with Scott Dixon who won the INDYCAR championship. He’s a great foundational piece of our overall program and he fits well within our group. That translates into success on the track, and we’re glad to have him continue to grow and move the team toward into the future.” Share This Article:

Season Review: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been- Part I

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

It feels good to say that it’s time to review the 2020 Indycar season. It’s great that there was a season. All was in doubt for Roger Penske’s first year as owner of the NTT Indycar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the opening race at St. Pete was cancelled in March. After six schedule revisions, renegotiated deals, and guidance from state and local health officials, the season took place. Three race had no fans in attendance, and the other races had a limited number of fans allowed. Fans owe a huge amount of thanks to Penske, Indycar, and IMS for getting a credible schedule together for this year. Also a thank you to NBC Sports for working out broadcast windows for all the races

It was not too bad a season. There could have been more passing on the ovals, but the racing on the road and street courses was really good. Here are the things that stood out to me in 2020. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about individual teams and drivers.

Dixon, Power Move Closer to Career Leaders

Scott Dixon won his 50th career race at World Wide technology Raceway in August. He began the season winning the first three races. After a driver has won three in a season, the odds of winning a fourth go down dramatically. I expected we would have to wait until 2021 to see Dixon win number 50. He accomplished the feat the week after the Indianapolis 500, where he was the favorite and finished second. The nice thing is he won his 50th with fans present. Dixon is just two wins behind Mario Andretti in total victories. He should at least tie Andretti next season.

Will Power last year thought that reaching Andretti’s mark of 67 poles would be a difficult task. Power didn’t think it possible to win more than three poles a year with the competition as close as it is. He took five poles this season to end up within five of the career record. I can’t see A.J. Foyt’s mark of 67 wins ever being topped, but I can see Power going past Andretti for career poles.

Indycar’s Youth Movement Shows Talent

Drivers with less than two years of experience coming into the season had some brilliant moments. Pato O’Ward and Rinus VeeKay each won a pole, Felix Rosenqvist and Colton Herta each won a race , and six podiums shared by eight of the youngest drivers in the series means Indycar has some talent waiting to get their due. This season belonged mainly to the veterans, but this talented group will be near the front consistently soon.

Dixon vs. Newgarden

Is this the new Foyt vs. Andretti rivalry? Six time champion Dixon and two time champion Newgarden have split the last four titles. It’s nice that they have alternated years. Until Dixon chooses to retire, this will be the matchup to watch. Most people, including me, thought the rivalry of the future would be Newgarden and Alexander Rossi. Rossi may enter the picture again, but he will need to come back strong next season if he wants to join this battle.

Aeroscreen Proves Its Need

A frightening crash in race 1 at Iowa proved that Indycar made the right call going with the aeroscreen instead of a halo. As the field was set to go green. Colton Herta’s car hit the car in front of him and became airborne. He landed nearly on top of Rinus VeeKay. The nose of Herta’s car hit the op of th aeroscreen. The screen also prevented a piece of debris from entering the cockpit of Marcus Ericsson’s car.

While the aeroscreen is not aesthetically pleasing, it is a great advance in safety. I think it will have a better appearance on the new chassis in 2023, wher it will be built into the design.

Best Races

Strictly my opinion, but the best races of the year were The Harvest Grand Prix Race 1, Iowa race 1, both races at Road America, and The finale Sunday at St. Pete.

The Indianapolis 500 was better than I expected, but it was not as good as it has been the last few years. Not having fans in attendance detracted from the event.

Look for Part 2 tomorrow. Weather permitting I will be at IMS Thursday for the test. The weather forecast looks dicey for running.

Fans Allowed at IMS Test Sessions This Week

Wednesday and Thusday test sessions at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will involve six drivers, including six time series champion Scott Dixon and reigning Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner Takuma Sato. other drivers testing are Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Carpenter.

Newgarden and Sato will test Wednesday. Scott McLaughlin is expected to get time on Wednesday to complete his Rookie Orientation Program. All six drivers will test Thursday.

Wednesday’s test times are 11-6 and Thursday the test runs from 10-6.

Fans will be allowed to view the action from the turn 2 viewing mounds. Facial coverings must be worn at all times and social distancing must be maintained. No food or drink is allowed on the mounds.

Fans must enter the speedway at Gate 2 and undergo a temperature screening.

Quick Thoughts (After a Deep Breath)-Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

The Race

If Indycar wants to make St. Pete the season finale, I’m fine with that.The venue produced the finale drama that is missing from long road courses. Mistakes on a street course are costly.

I hope this race shows Indycar that double points are unnecessary for the finale.

What a great drive by Josef Newgarden, capped by an amazing pass for the lead. His win was a normal ending to a race which typified how the year 2020 has gone overall.

Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

It was great fun watching Newgarden and Scott Dixon both doing exactly what they needed to do to have a shot at winning the title. I hope we can see this championship rivalry for a few more years.

This race had everything- leaders crashing, yellows playing with strategy, some rain, the pace car running out of fuel, the title intrigue, and the Andretti Autosport drama on both ends of the grid.

 I have never seen a team that had a complete vise-grip on a weekend destruct as quickly as Andretti Autosport did today. The team had seemed to have figured out what was ailing them early in the season the last few races and were in line for a podium sweep at one point.

With Marco Andretti not qualifying for the Leaders’ Circle, you have to wonder if we see the 98 next year.

I hope Alexander Rossi uses all of this year’s frustrations to have a monster season in 2021. Today had to be particularly heartbreaking to be on the verge of salvaging something from this year and have it go away so fast.

I think James Hinchcliffe did enough this weekend to be the prime candidate for the 26 car next year.

A couple more laps of yellow and Alex Palou might have been able to get to the end of the race. I hope he will be back next year. I really like the way he drives.

Sebastien Bourdais appears to already be helping A. J. Foyt Racing. He was in the top 10 all weekend. After getting shuffled back on pit stops and with the aid of the cautions, he worked his way up to fourth at the end. Foyt placed both cars in the top 10 with Charlie Kimball finishing eighth.

Pato O’Ward didn’t win a race this year, but I will be shocked if he doesn’t win one in 2021. Arrow McLaren SP had a competitive season. Another nice drive today for his second runner-up finish of the year.

Congratulations to Rinus VeeKay, Indycar rookie of the Year. I’m glad that he will get another year at ECR to continue to grow as a driver.

I appreciate NBC going overtime with thier coverage to allow for an interview with Dixon.

The Title

Josef Newgarden (R) congratulates Scott Dixon on winning the Indycar series title. phot from NBC on Twitter

Scott Dixon has firmly placed himself on the same plane as Foyt and Mario Andretti. He now has six championships to go along with 50 career victories. I expect him to tie Foyt with seven titles and to end up with close to 60 race wins before he is done. I have been privileged to see both Foyt and Dixon race. While they drove in different eras, each had superior talent to their peers. I may not have appreciated Foyt at the time he drove for all his accomplishments, but his career has given me the perspective and context to appreciate Dixon while he is still active.

The last four series titles-

2017- Newgarden

2018-  Dixon

2019- Newgarden

2020- Dixon

We should have maybe three more years of this rivalry.

Dixon and Newgarden completed every lap this season. It is extremely rare that one driver accomplishes this feat in a season. It is obvious why they were the title contenders and that there was only a 16 point difference at the end.

I will be back on Tuesday with my season review, which may be divided into two parts. Thanks for follow along this weekend and all season. I appreciate you so much.

Herta Leads Warm Up

Colton herta led an incident free morning warmup session for this afternoons’ Firestone Grand Prix of St. petersburg, the final NTT Indycar Series race of the season. Points leader Scott Dixon was second, and runner up Josef Newgarden finished ninth.

Pole winner Will Power was focused on fuel runs and was 16th in the session.

The race may be a fuel saving two stop race. The Pit Windows are expected to be between laps 30-35 and 60-65. I anticipate many teams to start on reds, hope for a yellow to be done with them for the day, and rub the rest of the race on the primary tires.

Race coverage begins at 2:30 Eastern on NBC, with the green flag at 2:32.

The top six:

VeeKay Stays with ECR; Carpenter Still Running Ovals

202 Rookie of the Year rinus VeeKay has signed to continue with Ed Carpenter Racing for 2021.
The Release from ECR:

RINUS VEEKAY TO CONTINUE WITH ED CARPENTER RACING FOR 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SEASON

Young Dutch Talent Will Remain Driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet After Breakout Rookie Campaign

(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) October 25, 2020 – Ed Carpenter Racing announced today that Rinus VeeKay will remain the driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. VeeKay has spent his first year in the series as the full-time driver for the Indianapolis-based team and will continue in that role next season. When VeeKay takes the green flag in the final race of the year today, his debut season with ECR will culminate with the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year title.


“I am very happy to be back with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2021!” proclaimed VeeKay. “I feel like an entirely different driver than I was at the beginning of the year. The team has been so patient with me and given me every opportunity to learn as much as possible. I have a great group of guys around me and I can’t wait to have that same amazing support next year.”


The presumptive Rookie of the Year began racing in the United States just four years ago. Born in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, Rinus van Kalmthout began karting in 2009 at the age of 8. With sights set firmly on the pinnacle of North American open wheel racing, he transitioned to the Road to Indy in 2017 and launched his U.S. career driving as Rinus VeeKay. His rapid ascent through the RTI ranks included second place in the 2017 USF2000 standings, the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 title and a runner-up finish in the 2019 Indy Lights championship. Now 20 years old, VeeKay will begin his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES season in 2021.


ECR team owner Ed Carpenter watched VeeKay’s progression through in the Road to Indy for two seasons and selected the rookie for his team after two successful tests in late 2019. “The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES is one that we will never forget. With all the challenges that have been presented, limited track time and schedule changes, we have seen Rinus progress rapidly from the start of the season until now,” stated Carpenter. “It is clear to us that he has all of the tools to be a winner at this level and we look forward to climbing the podium together!”


VeeKay’s first year of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition has been full of milestones. In only his second race, the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, he earned his first Top 5 finish. By starting 4th in the Indianapolis 500, he recorded the best qualifying result by a teenager in Indianapolis 500 history. The only Chevrolet-powered driver in the Fast Nine Shootout was also the fastest rookie in the field. The following week, he recorded his highest oval finish of the year at WWT Raceway with a 4th place. When VeeKay returned to the IMS road course for the Harvest GP, he won his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position, led the first laps of his Indy car career and earned his first podium finish. VeeKay will be Chevrolet’s first Rookie of the Year since 1992.


“We have had amazing results and great achievements this year. There is even more possible next year when we get back to a normal schedule! I am really looking forward to doubling my knowledge and not being a rookie! However, there will still be a few new tracks for me with the street courses. I will give it my all and make next season as good as possible!” said VeeKay.
He continued, “I appreciate so much the trust Ed Carpenter, Tony George and Stuart Reed have in me and believing in what I can do. It’s not an easy decision to put someone in a full-time car and I am very happy with the chance they have given me. SONAX, Autogeek, Direct Supply and the entire team has given me their all for the whole season!” VeeKay is also grateful for the support of his home country. “I want to thank my personal sponsors Jumbo, La Place, KNAF TeamNL and Basic-Fit; my family; and everyone back home in the Netherlands cheering for me!”


Since its inception in 2012, ECR has raced exclusively in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and recently entered the eSports arena. The team has shown versatility by earning seven wins on each style of track the series competes on – street and road courses, short ovals and speedways. In 2020 alone, the team’s Top 5 finishes have come on a superspeedway, a short oval and a road course. ECR boasts 32 Top 5s to date, 21 of which have been podiums. An ECR Chevrolet qualified on the front row of six Indianapolis 500s, including three pole positions by Carpenter (2013, 2014 and 2018).


The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will see ECR continue to compete with two full-time entries, the No. 20 and No. 21. While the No. 21 will feature VeeKay for the full season, Carpenter will continue as oval driver of the No. 20 in his 19th season of Indy car competition. VeeKay’s first season will end in the same location that his second season begins. While the 2020 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET today, the 2021 season will open in the Streets of St. Petersburg on March 7, 2021.

Race Day at St. Pete- The Title and Money on the Line

Good morning. Today’s schedule: (All Times Eastern)

10:40-11:10 Warm up NBC Gold

2:32 Green Flag NBC 2:30-4:30 100 laps

A reminder – cars will be on the pace lap when the television broadcast begins.

Scott Dixon just needs to maintain his starting position to win his sixth championship. The window of possibilities for Josef Newgarden shrunk a bit when he didn’t win the pole yesterday. His eighth startoing spot will make it hard for Newgarden to get the 53 maximum points today. Both drivers need to get through turn 1 of lap 1 cleanly.

The leaders’ Circle final spot is still up for grabs. Marco Andretti will start 23. The 98 is seven points out of the Circle at the moment and will need to move up to have a chance. Sebastien Bourdais’ seventh starting spot should help the 14 car keep the final spot. Conor Daly starts 14th. The 20 car is six points ahead of the 14 in 20th.

Simon Pagenaud was headed for his best qualifying effort of the year until his late spin cost him his two best laps. Still he starts 12th, which is an improvement. Pagenaud has not let where he starts affect his racing. he could be a factor today.

Rookie of the Year

When the green flag flies, Rinus VeeKay will earn Rookie of the Year honors. VeeKay, dribving for Ed Carpenter Racing, got off to an awful start this season at Texas. He crashed in qualifying and crashed early in the race, also taking out rookie Alex Palou. The rest of the season VeeKay showed tremendous improvement, capturing a pole and a podium spot at the Harvest Grand Prix.

Notes from the Ground

I received several messages yesterday from friends at the track. My friend Ed Murray said there wer fewer vendors, which was to be expected.. he said people were complying with mask wearing.

I later saw a photo from the stands where several fans were not wearing masks. I later heard from others that track staff was reminding people about the policy.

The track claims that nearly all tickets have sold.

I wonder how much of the grandstands will remain standing for the March race.

I applaud the efforts of Indycar, Green Savoree, and the city of St. Petersburg to put this race together for a second time this year.

I’ll be back with a quick warm up recap and then my race quick toughts this afternoon.

St. Pete Qualifying- After Chaos, Normalcy Returns

Some thoughts about today’s qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which can be viewed at 8 pm Eastern on NBCSN:

It was nice to have the drama of the Fast Six again. This is only the second time this season the Fast Six has been the qualifying procedure.

It seems the black tires may be faster than the red alternate tires here. Alexander Rossi advanced from round 1 without going to the reds.

Colton Herta’s tire strategy looked good in the Fast Six but hurt him at the end.

Group two results and penalties caused a delay, partly due to an issue with timing and scoring. The delay created a lot of confusion as to who would advance. Indycar got it right in the end, though.

What a very nice run for Sebastien Bourdais in the A. J. Foyt Racing number 14. The team is definitely looking forward to beginning the season here in March.

While Scott McLaughlin starts near the back, he showed some flashes of speed in practice. He has a lot to learn about qualifying, but I think he will have a great year in 2021.

Andretti Autosport looked strong today with three cars and their technical partner Meyer Shank in the Fast Six.

Ironic that Oliver Askew got into Round 2 because Felix Rosenqvist was penalized. An angry Rosenqvist driving from the rear of the field will make for some excitement tomorrow.

I can’t remember a qualifying session where six penalties were assessed.

The Will Power/Colton Herta qualifying rivalry continues. I look for more clashes between them next year, with Herta winning a few more times.

Power’s fifth pole of the year puts him within five of Mario Andretti’s 67 career poles. Power has won 9 poles at St. Pete. Today’s was his 6th pole here in 7 years. He has won this race from the pole just once, however.

Indycar photo by Chris Jones

Strange that both title contenders , Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden failed to make the Fast Six. Dixon starts 11th and Newgarden starts 8th. Not winning the pole cost Newgarden a valuable point in his chase to overtake Dixon. Dixon still needs to finish ninth or better tomorrow, but depending on what Newgarden does, Dixon may be able to win the title with a lower finish.

James Hinchcliffe had a solid day which should help his chances to secure a seat for next year. He was strong in practice, led group 1 in qualifying, and made the Fast Six.

Tomorrow morning look for my race day preview. I’ll include some things my on site reporters have shared about the the venue.

Qualifying results: