The table appears to be set for the upcoming NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
This week’s signings of Takuma Sato by Chip Ganassi Racing and rookie Sting Ray Robb by Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing effectively solidified a 27-car lineup for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding, to be held March 3-5.
Sato will share Chip Ganassi’s No. 11 Honda with rookie Marcus Armstrong while Robb will drive the No. 51 Honda that was Sato’s cockpit last season. Sato will be in the car for the five oval races while Armstrong tackles the 12 road and street circuits.
Those entries are among the 27 regulars scheduled to compete in the 17 races. The total is not a record for the sport, but it is the highest such figure since 2011, a season that averaged 27.1 competitors at the races outside of the Indianapolis 500. This year’s full-season car count represents a 15 percent increase from the 2019 season.
And the field will grow at the oval races as Ed Carpenter Racing will field an additional car for owner/driver Ed Carpenter. The last time the INDYCAR SERIES had 28 starters outside of the Indy 500 was at the season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2021.
This competitor lineup also is unique from a timing standpoint as it came together 46 days ahead of the first race of the season. From a manufacturer perspective, Honda will field 15 cars on a weekly basis, Chevrolet 12 (plus Carpenter on the ovals).
Seven seats have new drivers this year, four of them occupied by first-year series drivers. The rookies are Armstrong, Robb, Benjamin Pedersen of AJ Foyt Racing and Agustin Canapino at Juncos Hollinger Racing. Joining Sato as a veteran changing teams are Alexander Rossi (now at Arrow McLaren Racing), Santino Ferrucci (AJ Foyt Racing) and Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport).
Team Penske’s Will Power is the reigning series champion, one of five drivers who have captured a season crown in their career. The others are Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (six titles) and Alex Palou (one), Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden (two) and Meyer Shank Racing’s Simon Pagenaud (one). Power also won the 2014 championship with Roger Penske’s team.
The number of confirmed entries for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge stands at 31 with 2013 winner Tony Kanaan (Arrow McLaren Racing) one of three Indy-only announcements. The others are 2020 pole winner Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport) and Stefan Wilson (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing). A handful more are expected to be announced ahead of the official Open Test on April 20-21 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 107th Running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” will be Sunday, May 28 on NBC.
HONDA (15 entries)
Andretti Autosport: Colton Herta, Romain Grosjean, Devlin DeFrancesco, Kyle Kirkwood
Chip Ganassi Racing: Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou, rookie Marcus Armstrong (road and street circuit races), Takuma Sato (oval races)
Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports and Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing: David Malukas, rookie Sting Ray Robb
Meyer Shank Racing: Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey, Christian Lundgaard
CHEVROLET (12 entries)
AJ Foyt Racing: Santino Ferrucci, rookie Benjamin Pedersen
Arrow McLaren Racing: Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi
Ed Carpenter Racing: Conor Daly, Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter (oval races)
Juncos Hollinger Racing: Callum Ilott, rookie Agustin Canapino
Team Penske: Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin
INDY-ONLY COMPETITORS ANNOUNCED
Andretti Autosport: Marco Andretti
Arrow McLaren Racing: Tony Kanaan
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports: Stefan Wilson