IndyCar’s stars gathered at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to celebrate the upcoming season of open-wheel racing in America. This will help to cement and grow its popularity.
After word that Michael Andretti had applied for a Formula One team, the party marking the 100-day countdown went off track. Mario Andretti (1978 F1 World Champion) stated that Andretti Global had submitted an expansion team for launch in 2024. This is a very telling sign of IndyCar’s petty dilemma.
Roger Penske purchased IndyCar and IMS two months before the global shutdown. IndyCar has survived the pandemic. Penske is now at the top of the series with all key metrics trending upward despite the difficulties.
IndyCar’s success can be attributed a group of young stars, including a Mexican driver, a Spaniard, and a Dutch driver. Also, 21-year old Colton Herta from California, who won races and gained new fans. IndyCar has become a desirable and respectable landing spot for top drivers all over the world. However, the bright young stars of IndyCar’s revival all grew up dreaming about F1.
Michael Andretti is likely to bring Herta from Andretti Autosport along with him as the next American driver if he ever gets an F1 team. Herta was an integral part of last year’s unsuccessful Andretti talks to buy Sauber. As he prepares to defend his St. Petersburg win from a year ago on Sunday, he is once again making headlines for the wrong series.
Herta said Tuesday that it’s the same thing as with the Sauber stuff. It doesn’t really matter to me,” Herta stated to The Associated Press. “IndyCar is my main goal this year and that’s where I’m focusing. I would have to look closely at Formula One if it were to happen. However, I only drive what I am contracted to do when I drive it.
Pato O’Ward (22-year-old Mexican) races in IndyCar for McLaren and appears to be already on the road. He drove the F1 McLaren car in December, and may be the reserve driver for select races in 2022.
O’Ward and Herta, who were teammates in January after a class win at the Rolex 24 Daytona, have become motorsports’ new guard. The loss of them to F1, motorsport’s hottest property right now, hangs over IndyCar communities that are looking for new faces to take the series forward.
O’Ward stated that he wants people to enjoy IndyCar. He also said that he wanted them to see the racing and what it has to offer. Enjoy me in IndyCar whenever I go to Formula One or if I ever get to Formula One.
Despite all the attention being paid to a pair who failed to win the IndyCar championship, the drivers are still trying to collect the points required by the FIA for an F1 driver’s license. Alex Palou, Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing colleague, was the winner of the IndyCar championship.
Palou, who was new to Ganassi last year but is now in his second year with IndyCar. The Spaniard of 24 years has an incredible steeliness and a relentless thirst for knowledge. He won his first race with Ganassi, finishing second to Helio Castroneves at the Indy 500. He then rebounded from two consecutive DNF’s to win Portland and reclaim the championship lead with only two races remaining.
Palou’s season was somewhat overlooked because of the constant attention.
Palou stated that while we didn’t surprise anyone last year, they didn’t talk much about us. “We must be part of the conversation to make people realize that this team is real.”
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Rinus VeeKay was 21 years old last fall. He was also one of IndyCar’s most notable first-time winners. After breaking his collarbone in a bike crash, the Dutchman’s results on track were not the same. There are many young talents looking for IndyCar slots.
F1 was the source of some new faces in IndyCar. Since Alexander Rossi’s departure in 2016, curiosity about the IndyCar Series has been aroused. Fernando Alonso entered the Indy 500 three more times.
Marcus Ericsson, who left F1 in 2019 to join IndyCar, returns for a fourth season. He had two wins last year. Jimmie Johnson is the fourth man in the Ganassi lineup. Johnson is a seven-time NASCAR champion and will be back for a second season. This time he will be working full-time for an Indianapolis 500 entry.
The Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood (23-year-old American) almost lost his seat due to the sheer amount of new talent. Andretti Autosport developed him, but Herta had to make the move to F1 to continue her development. Kirkwood was then available to AJ Foyt Racing when Andretti couldn’t agree to the Sauber deal.
David Malukas (20-year-old Indy Lights runner up) moved with his father into a Dale Coyne racing ride. The driver from Chicago gives IndyCar two more Americans.
Devlin DeFrancesco races under the Canadian flag. He joined Kirkwood and Malukas to help three Road to Indy ladder graduates into the big leagues. Three new faces join the trio as they enter IndyCar.
Tatiana Calderon will drive IndyCar with Foyt; the Colombian will be the oldest rookie driver in the class at 28.
Christian Lundgaard raced Formula 2 for the past two seasons before being replaced by Rahal Letterman Lanigan.
Callum Illot was an F1 test driver at Alfo Romeo and was inspired by Romain Grosjean’s renewed energy last year as an IndyCar rookie. He signed up with Juncos Hollinger Racing to give IndyCar its largest entry roster in a decade, with 26 full-time cars.
Penske stated that he will increase by 30% the IndyCar leaders circle guaranteed payout to the top 22 standings teams and expects the Indy 500 purse purse to be “higher” than last year. Last year’s purse was just over $9 million.
“The only thing we are going to do is support all our leaders circle teams. Penske stated to AP that we have great teams and need to support them. “The lights are on, and the stores remain open.”
The series has signed a three-year agreement with NBC Sports. Its highest IndyCar ratings since it acquired the property in 2019 have been achieved last season. The series will air 13 races on the broadcast network, rather than via cable. Telemundo Deportes plans live Spanish-language coverage for three races, starting Sunday’s opener at St. Pete. IndyCar claims it has agreements in over 200 countries and territories.
Penske stated that talks with Toyota are ongoing after IndyCar’s failure to court Ferrari. Vasser Sullivan Racing is expected to be Toyota’s partner when it returns.
Penske stated that Toyota has not refused to accept or withdrawn his support. I think they are trying to see how it fits into their total motorsports package. There is definitely interest and it would be a great idea to bring a third manufacturer to the table, who we could announce in the coming season.
Because of the fierce competition, Simon Pagenaud and Castroneves turned down other opportunities. Meyer Shank Racing was happy to build around them IndyCar.
After three seasons of IndyCar driving in IMSA for Penske, Castroneves accepted a job at Shank. Penske wanted Pagenaud take an IMSA seat to allow the team to have three IndyCar entries.
Castroneves stated, “The rules allow for your talent to shine.” “IndyCar has been where I’ve wanted to be since the beginning.”
Penske driver Will Power stated that he understood the appeal of F1 to young drivers.
He said, “Formula One represents the pinnacle in terms of television coverage and money around the globe.” It’s a place you’d love to visit if you’re a young driver.
However, it will not be the same experience of IndyCar on or off the track.
Power stated that there is no other open-wheel series like IndyCar. Just look at the practice sheets, and the qualifying times. It is mathematically possible to calculate that IndyCar has a higher level of competition than Formula One.
I’m not saying IndyCar drivers have it better. “I’m not saying that IndyCar drivers are better. I just think our formula is more competitive and our formula is better for fans. You never know who will win.”