Does Ganassi, Penske or Andretti have IndyCar’s best lineup?

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Between Chip Ganassi Racing, Team Penske and Andretti Autosport, the three pre-eminent IndyCar Series teams now have 11 of the 21 cars confirmed for the 2014 season.

The better question, now that each has its lineup confirmed, is whose is best?

A few things to consider for each:

CHIP GANASSI RACING

  • KNOWNS: Scott Dixon is widely considered the best all-around driver in the series, Tony Kanaan remains one of the best on ovals, Ryan Briscoe is technically savvy and makes few mistakes, and Charlie Kimball is an emerging star.
  • UNKNOWNS: TK’s road and street course qualifying has been off of late, and how he’ll work with Chris Simmons engineering remains to be seen. Briscoe, back in the Ganassi fold full-time for the first time since 2005, should be more consistent but needs to maximize the machinery at his disposal more regularly. Kimball’s qualifying needs to continue to improve, as it did in 2013. How will Dixon and Kimball adjust to the Chevrolet powerplant is another question.

TEAM PENSKE

  • KNOWNS: Will Power remains a beast on road and street courses, and has seriously upped his oval game. Helio Castroneves has calmed down since this new car was introduced and posted two great back-to-back seasons.
  • UNKNOWNS: Juan Pablo Montoya. Is he going to be great, average, adequate or underwhelming? Can Power win consistently on ovals? Can Castroneves ever take home the title?

ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT

  • KNOWNS: Ryan Hunter-Reay is a champion and should resume title contention with better luck. James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti and rookie Carlos Munoz are three of the most exciting drivers to watch.
  • UNKNOWNS: Can the team shake off the lackluster second half of 2013 with improved reliability? Will Hinchcliffe mesh with his third different engineer in as many years? Will Andretti win races (plural)? Will Munoz pull a “Montoya ‘99” in starring in his first full year?

It’s mouth-watering to think of the battles between these three teams next year.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.