What's left to be done in IndyCar Offseason

By Tony Donohue
September 06, 2022

With Portland in the rearview mirror, It’s hard to believe IndyCar only has one more green flag left to finish up 2022. It’s been an epic battle for the points championship between three of the best drivers we will ever see. We’ve gotten to know so many drivers over a short period of time, welcomed in a first time IndyCar Series winner and a new champion to the Indianapolis 500. Josef Newgarden has collected five wins, with Scott McLaughlin bringing home his first three checkered flags of his career. The offseason will provide plenty of time for reflection on the 2022 season.

Before we crown a champion, let’s look ahead to 2023, which may seem way too early, but it will be here before we know it. Plenty of if’s and’s and but’s upcoming for your reading pleasure.

The biggest question since the early summer is where Alex Palou will land in 2023. After conflicting reports, Palou seemingly wants to go to Mclaren, either in an IndyCar capacity or Formula E with sights set on Formula 1. This might wind up in a courtroom to be settled. I’m no lawyer but it’s hard for me to imagine Palou back in the #10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda in 2023.

Prediction: Palou runs a 3rd Chevy at Arrow McLaren SP in 2023.

This domino would seemingly leave a championship seat open at Chip Ganassi Racing. With Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon locked in, it seems to add up that David Malukas would be the fit to pilot the #10 Honda. Ganassi could seemingly buyout Malukas and HMD from Dale Coyne. 2022 Indy Lights champ Linus Lundqvist could then take his sponsorship money to the #18. In a very under the radar move this summer, Ganassi’s development driver, Kyffin Simpson moved over to HMD in Indy Lights. Simpson could take over the car vacated by Lundqvist. This move also gives Chip Ganassi the opportunity to get younger.

Prediction: Malukas to the #10, Linus Lundqvist to the #18

Next up is Felix Rosenqvist. An up and down season in 2022 saw Rosenqvist score 2 Top 5’s and record 2 pole positions. With Alexander Rossi coming to Arrow McLaren SP in 2023, there seems to be one too many cooks in the kitchen. This seemingly has Rosenqvist moving over to Formula E. It was reported a few weeks back that Arrow McLaren SP doesn’t have Rosenqvist locked down for the 2023 year quite yet. If Colton Herta does indeed go to Formula 1, the #26 Gainbridge Honda could be filled by Rosenqvist’s talents. If Herta stays in the seat, Rosenqvist would have the option to run Formula E for Arrow McLaren SP or possibly a part time schedule for a current team that might look to run an additional car. That could be Juncos Hollinger Racing or Meyer-Shank depending on the engine availability from the Honda camp.

Prediction: Herta gets his Super License and Michael Andretti makes the call to bring Rosenqvist back under the Honda banner.

Jimmie Johnson is up next. Johnson has struggled majorly in the road and street courses. His crash at Long Beach really could have kept him out of the Indy 500 the next month. It obviously didn’t, but if I was him, I would be satisfied with running ovals only in 2023. We are yet unsure what Carvana has planned for 2023. Carvana deserves plenty of credit for it’s investment in Johnson and IndyCar. They had a display up at every race this season giving out free 1:64 scale diecast cars. As much of a dream scenario as Johnson on the ovals and Daniel Riccardo on the road and street courses sounds, I don’t see that happening. As of now, Johnson will for sure be on the ovals in 2023 but if Carvana backs off their sponsorship, it’s possible we see a bigger role for Tony Kanaan or Sebastian Bourdais at Ganassi in 2023.

Prediction: Johnson on ovals in 2023, road and street courses TBD.

Andretti Autosport will be interesting next year. Rumors of Devlin DeFrancesco being out of the car for his second year in IndyCar are false. The rookie driver in 2022 has been consistent and outside of a dust up or two, which rookies will get blamed for, he’s been clean and has had pace all season. Kyle Kirkwood will pilot the #27 for Andretti Autosport next year with Rossi’s move to Arrow McLaren SP. Romain Grosjean will stay put and could be learning the styles of two new teammates. If Herta does leave the team for Formula 1, I believe Felix Rosenqvist would be sought after by the team as said above. Also with a chance to be in that car is Oliver Askew who is under contract with Andretti Autosport and spent 2022 running Formula E. Andretti Autosport does have plenty of talent in Indy Lights as well, but it looks like the Indy Lights program will stay put for 2023. If Marco Andretti lands more rides in the Nascar Xfinity Series next year, it’s possible Askew could run the Indy 500. However, until we see Marco sign a full time deal, he will be in the #98 Andretti Autosport Honda at the Indianapolis 500 in May.

A.J. Foyt Racing will lose the services of Kyle Kirkwood in 2023 and has all but confirmed that Indy Lights race winner Benjamin Pedersen will move up and take over the famous number. Pedersen scored his first career Indy Lights win over the weekend at Portland. Dalton Kellett will be back in the #4 for a fourth season in IndyCar. The Foyt camp showed with proper funding in 2022 that they would run a third car. We will see if that happens, but as of now, it looks unlikely.

Honda teams Meyer-Shank Racing and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will run back their driver rosters from 2022. Jack Harvey has struggled to sniff the top 10 in 2022 and some have suggested maybe he vacate the #45 for the services of a Santino Ferrucci or Felix Rosenqvist. As of today, Harvey will be back in 2023 with backing from Hy-Vee looking to put 2022 in the vault and forgotten.

Ed Carpenter Racing announced the return of Rinus VeeKay for 2023 “and beyond.” With Conor Daly also under contract for the 2023 season, the team will run the same as they did in 2022. With a partnership in place with Paretta Autosport and driver Simona De Silvestro, look for the #16 to be on the grid at all road and street courses and the Indianapolis 500 with a continued partnership with Ed Carpenter Racing and sponsor Bit Nile.

With the announcement officially by Juncos Hollinger Racing to expand to a second car in 2023 full time, this could be an open seat for Felix Rosenqvist to land. As you can see, a lot of teams will have interest in Rosenqvist's services in 2023. This would be a way for Chevy to keep Rosenqvist while bringing a veteran presence to help the team and Callum Illott in his second year in IndyCar. Ryan Hunter-Reay could be an outside option as he has worked with the team this year in a drivers coach role. If Rosenqvist isn't available, Askew or Santino Ferrucci would be on the short list to pilot the #78 in 2023.

Dreyer and Reinbold Racing is still planning a two car effort for next May's Indy 500. They were pleased with the pairing of Sage Karam and Santino Ferrucci in 2022 and would love to run it back for the 107th. If Ferrucci lands a full time gig, it's yet to be determined who would emerge as a second driver in the #23.

Over the next few weeks, IndyCar will announce the schedule for 2023. The schedule will look almost identical as it did in 2022 with a few tweaks to start times. I do not anticipate a new track on the schedule, but am hopeful that talks continue to move Gateway to a night race.

These are a few predictions as we reach the final race of 2022 at Laguna Seca on Sunday. Things will change from now until the first practice at St. Pete in late winter of 2023. The game of musical chairs in IndyCar is ever changing and evolving and you just never know where someone might come up with funding for a ride. Right Zack Veach?