In a change to recent form, almost all IndyCar seats for 2017 are filled well before the Christmas and New Year break. But a few remain and here’s my rundown of the latest IndyCar silly season rumours and developments.
Chip Ganassi Racing
The fourth seat at Ganassi alongside Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball remains – officially – unfilled for the 2017 IndyCar season.
As previously reported Ganassi remains keen to sign Max Chilton on a multi-year deal if he can continue bringing sponsorship to the team. I do not expect to see any other drivers being able to bring sufficient budget to bag this seat and Chilton himself has been quiet on his plans for 2017 implying he is not needing to shop around for opportunities.
Ed Carpenter Racing
ECR have yet to confirm the road and street course substitute for Ed Carpenter in 2017.
With Conor Daly and Ed Jones securing drives with AJ Foyt and Dale Coyne, the field of potential candidates has thinned. Budget is likely to be a consideration despite ECR’s strong relationship with Fuzzy’s Vodka continuing in to 2017.
JR Hildebrand’s profile (or lack thereof) is unlikely to pull in additional sponsor cash so ECR may look for a part-funded driver to deputise for team-owner Carpenter.
Spencer Pigot will be in with a shout but finding budget for a second IndyCar part-season will be tricky after a mediocre debut in 2016. RC Enerson could be in contention after superb rookie performances and the ECR team likes Luca Filippi. Filippi provided a strong support to Newgarden in 2015 and has proven pedigree on street and road courses.
Sage Karam was rumoured to be in contention to replace Newgarden in the full-time ride but missed out. The former Ganassi driver might pick up the consolation prize but budget could be his main stumbling block. At any rate, Carpenter is faced with am embarrassment of riches in terms of talent to choose from.
It is now clear that deciding on a driver for the 2017 IndyCar season is the least of concerns for KVSH Racing.
Kevin Kahlkoven is all but confirmed to depart from team ownership. Trevor Carlin had been mooted to replace him or take over the squad entirely in order to move his eponymous squad up from from IndyLights. Chatter on that move has quietened dramatically in recent weeks and Carlin is now believed to favour a 2018 entry which is unlikely to fit Kahlkoven’s desire to quit now.
The big question now is whether KVSH will actually make the season opener in St Petersburg.
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So we likely won’t have 33 cars at Indy this year.