It now seems likely the Verizon IndyCar Series will have the bulk of its full-time competitor lineup settled by Christmas.
The offseason action – Sebastien Bourdais signing with Dale Coyne Racing, Josef Newgarden moving to Team Penske, JR Hildebrand landing with Ed Carpenter Racing – was the first step toward settling the regular rides. Now, signs point to other seats being filled in the coming weeks, some before Thanksgiving.
Also on the verge of confirmation are the final pieces to the manufacturer puzzle. Chip Ganassi Racing Teams recently announced its move to Honda after three seasons with Chevrolet. The next step figures to be a Honda team switching to Chevrolet to keep a series balance between the manufacturers. Stay tuned for that.
The first chance to show off the full 2017 lineup will be Feb. 10-11 during the open test at Phoenix International Raceway. Here’s how the manufacturer/team/driver lineup looks today:
Ed Carpenter Racing: Signed Hildebrand for the No. 21 car, will have Ed Carpenter back in the No. 20 machine for the oval races. Still to be resolved: The driver who takes Carpenter’s place on the road courses and street circuits.
KVSH Racing: This is the most fluid of all the entries. A pairing with the Trevor Carlin-owned program is possible, but at this point it seems anything is possible. What’s known: Bourdais has moved on after three seasons and four race wins.
Team Penske: Signed Newgarden for the No. 2 car, announced Juan Pablo Montoya will compete with the team for the Indianapolis 500. Series champion Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves return. Still to be resolved: Everything seems in place.
Another team TBD: There figures to be one, but it has not been announced. Maybe next week.
A.J. Foyt Enterprises: It seems several changes are in the works, but the team has not announced its plans. Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth are expected to be replaced by … let’s let the team speak to that.
Andretti Autosport: Returns Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti. Still to be resolved: the driver of the fourth car, which had Carlos Munoz in it the past three seasons.
Chip Ganassi Racing Teams: Re-signed Tony Kanaan to again partner with four-time series champion Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball. Still to be resolved: the driver of the No. 8 car. Last year it was rookie Max Chilton.
Dale Coyne Racing: Signed Bourdais, who drove 10 races for the team in 2011 (he had top-10 finishes in five of his final six races that year). Still to be resolved: the driver of the No. 19 car.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal returns. Still to be resolved: the possibility of a second full-season entry.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: James Hinchcliffe returns. Still to be resolved: The No. 7 entry, which Mikhail Aleshin piloted last season.
AMONG THE DRIVERS TO WATCH
Matt Brabham, Gabby Chaves, Chilton, Conor Daly, RC Enerson, Luca Filippi, Jack Harvey, Hawksworth, Ed Jones, Sage Karam, Kyle Kaiser, Pippa Mann, Munoz, Spencer Pigot, Martin Plowman, Sato, Felix Serralles, Oriol Servia, Dean Stoneman, Santiago Urrutia, Zach Veach, Stefan Wilson.
Curt Cavin recently became INDYCAR’s vice president of communications after 30 years covering Indy car racing for The Indianapolis Star.