Ganassi in no rush to lock down 2024 IndyCar drivers

EXHIBITION PLACE, CANADA - JULY 14: #11: Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at Exhibition Place on Friday July 14, 2023 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jake Galstad / LAT Images)
EXHIBITION PLACE, CANADA - JULY 14: #11: Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at Exhibition Place on Friday July 14, 2023 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jake Galstad / LAT Images)

Chip Ganassi Racing has more decisions to make about its next NTT IndyCar Series line-up than any of its rivals. Across its four cars and the five drivers signed to its open-wheel roster, only Scott Dixon and the No. 9 Honda are sorted for the future.

Dixon will continue his pursuit of additional championships to add to the six he’s earned so far, but his supporting cast — and the driver who might carry the team into the future whenever the 43-year-old retires — have yet to be identified for 2024 and beyond.

It’s unclear who will join the Kiwi on those title pursuits as the No. 8 driven by Marcus Ericsson, No. 10 piloted by Alex Palou, and the No 11 Ganassi Honda shared by Marcus Armstrong and Takuma Sato could have new occupants after the season concludes in six weeks’ time. Figuring out who will steer the rest of its fleet has been a time-consuming process for Ganassi and his managing director Mike Hull.

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The No. 10 operates like Dixon’s No. 9 entry in that the team and its sponsors hire their preferred driver to lead the program. Owing to the long-held expectation that Palou will drive elsewhere next year, the team has been inundated with inquiries from those who want to fill the seat.

A different business model has been in play for the Nos.8 and 11 since 2011, when Ganassi added two cars for drivers who bring their own funding to cover the operating costs. Ericsson has been clear in his intent to shift from paying to being paid, and it doesn’t appear that it will happen at Ganassi’s team. Armstrong is keen to stay and do the entire season in 2024, but he’s by no means the only driver who wants to hire Ganassi’s services.

So what is the team looking for in its next driver rotation? Ganassi’s motto of “I like winners” is the perfect filter for who will or won’t be considered for the paid and paying opportunities.

“We’re doing the same thing that all the other entrants are doing and that is to solidify our driver lineup for ’24,” Hull told RACER. “And I would just say that we have a terrific organization and a great group of team members who create the run that we’ve had this year with all five of our drivers. The greatest thing about Chip Ganassi Racing is the drivers that we choose who have the capabilities to do what you see on the racetrack.

“So our choice for ‘24 will be drivers like we have right now, and they’ll be surrounded by terrific team members. And what our present drivers have in common is the fact that all of the five know how to win. Those are the kind of drivers that will be driving for us in ‘24.”

Amid strong interest from drivers in IndyCar and European open-wheel racing, Hull points to a particular mindset that works best in Ganassi’s team culture. And with the FIA Formula 2 and Formula 1 seasons extending well into IndyCar’s offseason, there’s no great rush to sign drivers who won’t be available for another few months.

“We have a system here that’s built around unselfishness with the team members and the drivers,” Hull said. “That’s the model. It’s about the entire team taking credit for winning, not the individual entries taking credit for their wins because every person in the organization contributes to our success in some way. Finding drivers who can plug into the system with wanting to do it that way is where we’re at as a team.

“So if anyone is interested in who Chip Ganassi Racing might want to drive for us, they should just look at the driver pool that’s out there, whether they’d be current IndyCar drivers, or whether they be drivers from other kinds of motor racing, to see what drivers would fit in our system.”

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