Andretti Autosport restructuring IndyCar program for 2024

Andretti Autosport restructuring IndyCar program for 2024
Andretti Autosport restructuring IndyCar program for 2024

As part of a plan established by team owner Michael Andretti and his new partners in the team, Andretti Autosport will be changing its approach to how its NTT IndyCar Series team is constructed. The major shift, which will debut in 2024, involves its fourth entry, the No. 29 Honda, which is currently piloted by Devlin DeFrancesco.

The four-car operation has been in the practice of making at least one of its IndyCar entries available for hire, using funding from drivers and their sponsors to cover the annual costs. Former Andretti drivers Zach Veach with Gainbridge (2018-20) and James Hinchcliffe with Genesys (2021), along with DeFrancesco (2022-23) and his myriad of backers, are the most recent examples of drivers who’ve participated in the series through this opportunity.

With the formation of Andretti Global in 2022 as the parent company to Andretti Autosport, and the sizable investment into Andretti Global spearheaded by Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter and colleague Daniel Towriss, CEO of Group 1001/Gainbridge, a fresh strategy was devised that would — at its earliest opportunity — remove Andretti Autosport from the list of IndyCar teams who compete with funded drivers. That plan is now in motion.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that we’re looking at having four cars and no paying drivers next year,” Andretti COO Rob Edwards told RACER. “What Michael and Dan have talked about is moving away from the paid-ride model to where we’re choosing all drivers.”

As the young and developing DeFrancesco nears the end of his two-year contract with Andretti, the team has been actively pursuing its options to place proven stars in all four of its entries. The No. 29 car, specifically, will have a new driver next season who is hired and paid by the team while relying on funding from within the team’s cadre of sponsors to bankroll the initiative.

More than a decade removed from its last IndyCar championship victory, the new endeavor underscores Andretti’s dedication to resolving the matter by deploying four leading drivers in an effort to return the team to title contention.

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With its immense resources and the young, race-winning combo of Colton Herta and Kyle Kirkwood signed to multi-year contracts, Andretti continues to attract​​ star-caliber drivers who want to be part of its program.

Among the potential solutions in the IndyCar field, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson has been routinely mentioned as Andretti’s main target for the No. 29 car, and there’s another tier of Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula E talent for the team to consider in the marketplace.

There’s also a lingering question as to whether Andretti will be seeking more than one driver to complete its next roster.

Like DeFrancesco, F1 veteran Romain Grosjean is in the final year of his current deal, and while both sides appeared to be headed towards executing an extension after he produced a pair of poles and back-to-back second-place runs through April, no news has been forthcoming on whether the Swiss-born Frenchman will hold onto Andretti’s No. 28 Honda.

Close to winning more than one race in the opening stages of the season, the 37-year-old has been stuck in an unfortunate downward spiral that’s resulted in an average finishing position of 20.6 since May. Chatter within the paddock suggests the team is taking a wait-and-see approach to retaining Grosjean​​.

For his part, Edwards wouldn’t be drawn on who might be wielding the ​two unsigned ​Andretti entries in question.

“There’s a lot of opportunities and it’s that time of year where everybody talks to everybody,” he said. “Like any team, we’re always looking at where we’re at with drivers, not just for ’24, but also, increasingly, you have to look a lot further ahead to ’25 and ’26.”​

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