IndyCar 2016 Silly Season, Round 1


It’s early November, and there has been little-to-no movement on the Verizon IndyCar Series lineup front for 2016.

Other than Josef Newgarden re-signing with CFH Racing and his Rising Star Racing protege, 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion Spencer Pigot, moving up to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for at least a three-race program, there has been almost no news.

Nonetheless, this is still a good time to take stock of what we do know in a summary piece of where things sit at the moment. Even if there’s not much “new news” here, here’s an inventory list of what has gone on thus far. It’s still relatively early in the offseason with still four-plus months until the season opener, March 13, in St. Petersburg.

Here’s what we know, what might be available and who’s still trying to figure out Verizon IndyCar Series programs for 2016:


  • Chip Ganassi Racing (3): Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball. For sure, three of the four drivers from 2015 will carry over into 2016.
  • Team Penske (4): Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud. Team Penske’s fearsome foursome rolls on for a second season together.
  • Andretti Autosport (2): Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti. RHR is officially confirmed for another year and Marco Andretti will return for his 11th (!) season. Cars three and four are the question marks.
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2): Graham Rahal, Spencer Pigot. Rahal now set for year four at RLL, while Pigot will join for at least three races, with the hope of more materializing.
  • CFH Racing (2): Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter. Newgarden stays with CFH for at least one more year while Carpenter has a car on ovals as long as he cares to drive. Sponsorship is still being sorted for Newgarden’s car, with Wink Hartman set to scale back on his personal support due to declining oil prices.
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (1): James Hinchcliffe. Popular Canadian will be in search of his first full season with SPM after injury-shortened 2015.


  • KVSH Racing (1): Sebastien Bourdais. Three times a winner thus far with KVSH, Bourdais figures to once again be team leader at the team co-owned by Kevin Kalkhoven, Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan.
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises (2): Takuma Sato, Jack Hawksworth. Intention is for these two to continue together at the Waller, Texas-based squad for another season.
  • Bryan Herta Autosport (1): Gabby Chaves. Awaiting commercial agreements, but the single-car team hopes to roll into 2016 with the defending IndyCar series and Indianapolis 500 rookie-of-the-year.
  • Dale Coyne Racing (1): Tristan Vautier. Both driver and team want to continue for a full season in 2016, after Vautier provided needed stability to the team’s No. 19 car throughout the second half of 2015.


  • Chip Ganassi Racing (1): Sage Karam. Budget the determining factor for whether Ganassi’s young gun will have a second season in IndyCar.
  • CFH Racing (1): Luca Filippi. The Italian did a good enough job in his first season of road and street course races, planting the seed to continue, although he has not been confirmed yet.


  • Andretti Autosport (seats 3 and/or 4): Beyond the American pairing of Hunter-Reay and Andretti, this may take longer to settle. Carlos Munoz is a free agent, though Andretti remains hopeful he’ll be back for a third full season.
  • KVSH Racing (seat 2): Stefano Coletti barely made it through his first season and it remains to be seen whether he’ll be back for another. This seat has traditionally been filled late, and has changed, each of the last five years (Coletti, Sebastian Saavedra, Simona de Silvestro, Rubens Barrichello/E.J. Viso, Viso/Tony Kanaan).
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (seat 2): A popular seat. Would seem to be a landing spot for Jack Harvey if the Englishman jumps up from Indy Lights… others who could make sense here include James Jakes for another year, part-time 2015 driver Conor Daly, or Russian Mikhail Aleshin. Ryan Briscoe’s full-time open-wheel status for 2016 is undetermined, but unlikely, given he has been linked to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford GT program in sports cars.
  • Dale Coyne Racing (seat 2): TBA, and we’ll know for sure by opening practice at St. Petersburg. Rodolfo Gonzalez would like to continue for another year and Pippa Mann raced all ovals last season. A rideshare between these two could work once again. 


  • Jonathan Byrd’s Racing: Bryan Clauson. The short-track oval ace will make another attempt at the Indianapolis 500; team partnered with KVSH Racing last year but team partner not confirmed yet for 2016.
  • Grace Autosport: Katherine Legge. Team partner is TBD but the primarily female focused initiative led by Beth Paretta, with Legge as driver, was announced last May for an Indianapolis 500 debut.
  • Marotti Racing: Unheralded, seemingly out-of-nowhere effort from a Connecticut-based pastor was revealed in a report last week. The a fancy Vimeo presentation video that goes with it has the slight faux pas of a stock car engine dubbed over the IndyCar turbocharged ones at the start, and includes his own personal contact details for more information.
  • Dreyer & Reinbold Racing: Dennis Reinbold’s team will return to the Indianapolis 500 with at least one car and the potential of a second, for the first time since 2011, when DRR ran four cars.
  • Lazier Partners Racing: The 1996 Indy 500 champion, Buddy Lazier, figures to return once again, some 20 years on from his victory. 


  • Jack Harvey – Indy Lights veteran told the Linc in the U.K. that he has an “80 percent chance” of racing in IndyCar next year.
  • Stefan Wilson – The younger Wilson has a solitary IndyCar start to his name in 2013 but is working on a “Think Solar” campaign to make a run at the 2016 Indianapolis 500 (teaser video linked here). He’d be a popular addition to the race.
  • Conor Daly – As noted above, impressed enough in his limited IndyCar outings this year to deserve a full-time seat on merit. Budget, as ever, remains the tipping point for the young American.
  • Max Chilton – Another Brit, and with budget to boot, Chilton came on strongly in the second half of the Indy Lights season and figures to step up into IndyCar next season. He’s held conversations with several teams, although he is yet to have his first official test in an IndyCar.
  • Matthew Brabham – The Australian American has reportedly had positive conversations about at least a month of May program in 2016, and has a test at Sonoma under his belt already with Andretti Autosport.
  • Sebastian Saavedra – The Colombian veteran is only 25, and did a reasonable job in a handful of starts for Chip Ganassi Racing, with AFS support. AFS will no doubt want a landing spot on the grid for a handful of 2016 races, and Saavedra’s long been its guy.
  • JR Hildebrand – The Californian who now resides in Colorado remains a fan favorite and overachieved in his two starts with CFH Racing this year.
  • Oriol Servia – Always seems to appear somewhere and generally always adds to whatever program he joins. You’d figure he’ll be in the Indianapolis 500 once again with anything beyond that a bonus.
  • Carlos Huertas – Does “Grumpy Cat” return after his departure just before the Indianapolis 500? The mystery continues for the serviceable Colombian.

Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports