A few more dominos have fallen this week in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series silly season, with official confirmations of Juan Pablo Montoya staying with Team Penske and JR Hildebrand slotting into Ed Carpenter Racing.
Coupled with Takuma Sato’s impending move to Andretti Autosport (first reported by Motorsport.com’s David Malsher) and the likely cross-move which will follow of Carlos Munoz to A.J. Foyt Enterprises – a team which has not yet officially confirmed it will be switching to Chevrolet but is set to do so – there’s fewer question marks remaining.
This was the busiest week of action in the IndyCar silly season market since the run on confirmations from late September through mid-October.
Seats that are yet to be officially confirmed are the second Schmidt Peterson Motorsports seat, the fourth seat at Chip Ganassi Racing, and the second seats at both Foyt and Dale Coyne Racing. Carpenter’s seat in its second car for the road and street course races was termed as “still under consideration” in the Hildebrand anouncement this morning.
Mikhail Aleshin seemed set with SPM, and although this was announced in an IndyCar.com story and picked up by several other outlets – including this one – IndyCar.com later updated and clarified the story to say no deal has yet been reached by the two sides.
The status of the KVSH Racing team, whether it fuses into Carlin as has been rumored, also remains a question mark, although one car from whatever ownership structure gets finalized there is still expected. INDYCAR needs whatever the KVSH resolution is from a team standpoint more than KVSH needs INDYCAR; there’s been such a reduction in teams on the grid the last few years, that the last thing the sanctioning body needs is another one to depart.
Among drivers, we outlined the pros and cons list of each of the free agents a couple weeks ago.
There’s already a heavy American presence: Josef Newgarden, Charlie Kimball, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Ed Carpenter, JR Hildebrand and Graham Rahal have been confirmed.
Plenty of other talented young Americans in RC Enerson, Spencer Pigot, Conor Daly and Sage Karam among others are ready and waiting in the wings, and at least two of those four appear at this stage to have a very good shot at joining the already announced drivers. Ed Jones, the Indy Lights champion, also needs a place to land for his three-race program.
Anyway, here’s the 2017 grid as it stands:
- Team Penske (Chevrolet): 1-Simon Pagenaud, 2-Josef Newgarden, 3-Helio Castroneves, 12-Will Power, TBA-Juan Pablo Montoya (Indy 500 only)
- Chip Ganassi Racing (Honda): 9-Scott Dixon, 10-Tony Kanaan, 83-Charlie Kimball
- Andretti Autosport (Honda): 27-Marco Andretti, 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, 98-Alexander Rossi (Andretti-Herta Autosport)
- Ed Carpenter Racing (Chevrolet): 20-Ed Carpenter (ovals only), 21-JR Hildebrand
- Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Honda): 15-Graham Rahal
- Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Honda): 5-James Hinchcliffe
- Dale Coyne Racing (Honda): 18 or 19-Sebastien Bourdais
ANTICIPATED BUT NOT CONFIRMED BY TEAM:
- Andretti Autosport (Honda): 26-Takuma Sato
- A.J. Foyt Enterprises (Chevrolet): 14 or 41-Carlos Munoz
- Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Honda): 7-Mikhail Aleshin
SEATS YET TO BE CONFIRMED
- Chip Ganassi Racing (Honda): 8-Fourth car
- A.J. Foyt Enterprises (Chevrolet): 14 or 41-Second car
- Dale Coyne Racing (Honda): 18 or 19-Second car
- Ed Carpenter Racing (Chevrolet): 20-Second car, road and street courses only
- KVSH Racing (Chevrolet): 11-First car