Andretti United drivers Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings third in Extreme E 2022 standings

Andretti United Hansen Munnings
Andretti United

Three was a magic number for Andretti United drivers Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings after standing on the podium in the season finale and finishing third in the Driver’s Championship.

The duo’s third-place finish in the Jurassic X Prix in Dorset, UK marked the third time this season they stood on the podium – a season that included a Round 3 win in the Arctic X Prix in Greenland. Their other podium finish came in the season opener in Saudi Arabia.

After disastrous qualification sessions in Dorset, the drivers needed to advance to the Main through the “Crazy Race” last chance qualifier. Hansen earned the hole shot and kept Kyle LeDuc behind him before making the driver swap. Munnings held the pace, narrowly edged the Chip Ganassi team and advanced.

In the Main, Munnings face a major challenge with the final grid pick. The only remaining slot was in heavy mud, but she managed to place the car third by the end of the first lap. This time it was up to Hansen to hold the position.

“We’re on the podium again which is always an amazing feeling – especially after we had such rough time in qualifying,” Munnings said in a team release. “We didn’t have an easy grid start for the final, it was practically a swimming pool of mud and I felt like I was sinking.

Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings earned their third podium of 2021 in the Jurassic X Prix. (Andretti United)

“I lost out in the fight for second after I was forced to use the brakes to avoid Mikaela (Ahlin-Kottulinsky) but to finish with another trophy, and our third podium of the year is a great way to round out the season. It’s even sweeter knowing it’s my home race too. It’s been an amazing adventure with Extreme E – I’ve loved working from Timmy and learned so much from him. Well done to our team and the entire Extreme E organization for creating such an awesome series. I can’t wait for season two.”

The number three was even more significant for Hansen, who just 10 days earlier ended the 2021 Nitro Rallycross season third in driver points.

“This was one of the easier courses of the season,” Hansen said. “Of course, the mud made conditions difficult, but it was more about ultimate pace which I really enjoyed.

“The standard of this championship is so high – all the guys and girls are on the limit all the time. Everyone is fast but it’s just about finding the small details which can make a difference. We’ve learned so much this year and I’ve loved working with Catie. It’s an honor to work with Andretti United too – they are a hugely experienced team with knowledge across lots of different disciplines.”

While the drivers finished third in that championship, Andretti United was edged by JBXE by a mere two points and finished fourth in the team standings.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”