Armstrong looking to earn a full-time IndyCar ride for 2024

Armstrong looking to earn a full-time IndyCar ride for 2024
Armstrong looking to earn a full-time IndyCar ride for 2024

Marcus Armstrong has been a revelation this season as the IndyCar newcomer from New Zealand continues to lead the Rookie of the Year standings despite contesting nothing other than road and street course events.

Already missing two events’ worth of points from the Texas and Indianapolis oval rounds, the race-winning Formula 2 driver has shown considerable promise across seven outings while delivering five finishes between eighth and 11th for Chip Ganassi Racing.

While sharing the No. 11 Honda with CGR oval driver and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato, Armstrong has also grown interested in learning about oval racing and becoming a full-time competitor next season. The 22-year-old believes the best way to make that happen is through his work product, rather than words.

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“I think it’s pretty clear: I need to do my talking on track,” Armstrong told RACER. “And it’s been the same throughout my entire career. You can do as much talking off track as you like, but you’ve just got to perform well. And that’s the only thing I’m telling myself now is just to focus on race weekend, which doesn’t really seem like it’s a chore because I’m just quite genuinely enjoying myself.”

Sato will return to the No. 11 later this month for the Iowa oval doubleheader and the final oval of the year in August at World Wide Technology Raceway. A post-season oval test for Armstrong is said to be in the works.

“I would love to do ovals, which is not a secret,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to learn them, firstly, because it’s a different ballgame. Coming from Europe, predominantly, I’ve never really had experience on a circuit like that. So I do want to jump in and experience it quickly so I can start the learning curve. When will that opportunity come? I’m not quite sure when, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Armstrong has impressed on a couple of occasions this year before misfortune struck and blighted his finishing positions, which makes the concept of improving his record and earning a few top five finishes seem possible before his rookie campaign is finished.

“It might not look like it from the results standpoint, but we have made steady progress,” he said. “We’ve been capable of a lot more, which I think we displayed to an extent at Road America. I thought we qualified a bit poorly in P8 in my opinion, and then had a good start and got to maybe P2 at one point, and I thought that we had really good pace.

“That was an example of what we can achieve when I know what to expect, because we did the test there the week before and I’d certainly arrived in FP1 and hit the ground running, which is what we want to do going forward. If we can arrive at a race weekend, jump into FP1 headfirst, that’s going to help us so much when it comes to qualifying. When I know what to expect, that’s when we can expect some really good results.”

Armstrong is starting to draw interest from Ganassi’s rivals as more IndyCar teams search for young talent to develop as long-term prospects. The Kiwi would like to continue with CGR, but he remains unsigned beyond the current season.

“For the moment, I’m focused on what I’m doing,” he said. “It’s very easy to get lost in the future and what I want to do a year from now. But for me, it’s actually quite easy to stay present and enjoy the moment. Firstly, because I know that everything I do this year is going to help my future. And secondly, because it’s quite enjoyable. So I can just take every weekend, every day as it comes. I haven’t seen these circuits before. I haven’t seen a lot of the stuff.

“So I’m very much in my honeymoon phase where I’m just doing what I do. Long story short, I’m loving it here at Chip Ganassi Racing, and who knows what the future holds.”

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