2022 IndyCar Changes

Alex Palou at the Sebring International Raceway Test.  [credit Penske Entertainment: James Black]

Alex Palou at the Sebring International Raceway Test.  [credit Penske Entertainment: James Black]


by Paul Gohde

It’s been months since Alex Palou bested Pato O’Ward and Josef Newgarden to capture the NTT IndyCar Series championship at the Laguna Seca finale. But as happens with any major league sport, many changes have occurred in IndyCar’s off-season since then that will have a major bearing on what happens when the green flag flies beginning at St. Petersburg on February 27th. Join me as we look at some of those changes that you may have forgotten about during the Christmas rush or your Super Bowl celebration.

Twenty-six full-time cars are being prepared for the upcoming 17-race season. Here are some driver changes that you need to be aware of: Callum Ilott will run for the combined Juncos Hollinger team…Romain Grosjean moves to Andretti Autosport replacing Ryan Hunter-Reay…Veteran Juan Pablo Montoya was signed by Arrow McLaren SP for the two May events at Indianapolis…Jimmie Johnson moves to a full schedule (oval as well as road/street events) in his second season for Chip Ganassi…Takuma Sato leaves Bobby Rahal for a seat at Dale Coyne/Rick Ware. Rahal will field his long-awaited three car team with Graham Rahal, Christian Lundgaard and Jack Harvey filling the garage…Simon Pagenaud left Team Penske to join 500 winner Helio Castroneves at Meyer Shank Racing…Sebastien Bourdais departed AJ Foyt for a 2022 run with Chip Ganassi on the IMSA sports car circuit, though a part-time deal may work out to run some select Indy Car races for Foyt on ovals. Indy Lights champ Kyle Kirkwood will replace Bourdais for the Texan…Dreyer & Reinbold will mount a two car team for Indy, having signed Santino Ferrucci and Sage Karam for the 500…After several attempts at racing one final season, ageless Tony Kanaan will make one final run for Chip Ganassi at the 500…Trevor Carlin’s team will leave Indy Car after four seasons, ending state-side competition with a technical alliance with Juncos Hollinger…Max Chilton has retired from Indy Car competition…Colombian native Tatiana Calderone, who has competed in numerous series ranging from the LeMans 24 Hour to extensive karting over the years, will drive road/street courses for AJ Foyt. No oval track partner has been named yet…Indy Lights runner-up David Malukas, who has steadily climbed Indy Car’s ladder system, will move up to drive for Dale Coyne/HMD Motorsports…And Andretti Steinbrenner will replace veteran James Hinchcliffe with Canadian rookie Devlin DeFrancesco who has competed in various series in Canada, Europe and the U.S. Hinch is headed for full-time TV booth work, replacing motorsports analyst Paul Tracy on NBC Sports.

Other Changes To Note: IndyCar’s 2022 schedule sees Iowa Speedway return with the series’ only doubleheader on July 23-24 sponsored by Hy-Vee food stores and presented by Door Dash. Pepsi is also along for the ride. Texas and Detroit will revert to single race events…Long Beach returns to its long-time April schedule spot…Detroit’s 2022 race will be the finale at the Belle Isle island circuit as it will be contested on the downtown Detroit streets beginning in 2023…Toronto, off the schedule the past two years due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, returns on July 17…After much work, the Indy Lights series has 14 cars entered as of this writing; the largest field in several seasons…The Indy 500 counts 32 entries with several more expected. Non-full-time series’ drivers entered for the 105th running include Marco Andretti at Andretti Autosport, Tony Kanaan with Ganassi, Juan Pablo Montoya with McLaren, Ed Carpenter with his own team and the Santino Ferrucci/Sage Karam duo at Dreyer & Reinbold.

Questions Of Concern: #1: IndyCar is riding a strong wave with 26 teams each week and perhaps enough entries at Indy to make “bumping” a meaningful exercise. Given that, insiders have noted that 40 cars could likely be looking for spots at the 500 if Chevrolet and Honda could provide enough engines. Sponsors for some teams are apparently waiting at the pit gate to sign on, but few available engine leases, looming personnel and parts shortages among other issues, have kept some sponsors from signing up. For years IndyCar has sought to obtain a third (and maybe a fourth) engine partner to no avail. Racer magazine, on its website, taps Toyota (or one of its other brands) as the most likely to step up, but not in the near future the once strong IndyCar supplier recently stated. Things are going in the right direction at IC; now is the time to get that third engine supplier to give the teams waiting in line some hope (and some power)…#2: Seventeen races at 15 North American tracks is a good start on the 2022 schedule, but a look at the recent driver lineup tells us that the series has quickly become a very international one. Given that, Toronto now appears as the only foreign race (just barely) on the schedule. Not too long-ago IndyCar, CART and Champ Car crossed the border to visit Australia, Mexico and Brazil among others. Indy Car doesn’t have to follow the globe-trotting schedule of F1, but early season visits to those warm weather sites could stir up state-side interest in the series here in North America.




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