Welcome to a new segment on Overtake Motorsport called IndyCar Fortnight.
It’s been two weeks since Scott Dixon claimed his fifth championship at Sonoma. But the cars won’t be racing again until March because IndyCar thinks cramming 17 races into 6 months and then having the other 6 months eating pie and drinking beer is a good idea. With this stupidly long off-season in mind, lets fill that void. Every two weeks an article will be published with any major developments that have taken place. This particular piece will focus on an effective new team, with two new drivers and an assassin finally getting his chance.
We begin at Harding Racing, until a week or so ago IndyCar’s answer to the deceased Manor Racing in F1. Brand new team, underfunded, uncompetitive but with a talented peddler. Now IndyCar has shown its cousin how to treat young entrants. Harding has merged with George Steinbrenner’s Indy Lights team to become, funnily enough, Harding Steinbrenner racing. With the merger comes two new drivers in Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta, the top two in Lights this year, and Colton has already driven under Steinbrenner in a partnership with Andretti. Pato stunned at Sonoma, qualifying 5th and finishing 9th. Colton was less impressive, but with a stellar record in the feeder series, has earned his place, despite what people might say about him being the son of Bryan. Those people can get stuffed. What’s important is these two are very young, extremely talented American open-wheel racers in the same vein as JoNew and Rossi.
That’s the good. Now the bad. Conor Daly and especially Gabby Chaves have been shafted aside like they weren’t even there in the first place. Gabby has been with the team since their debut and did all the grafting with ancient equipment. Conor had to put up with the same as the team evaluated him as a potential teammate for Gabby next year. Now, both are out because of the merger. What’s even worse is these fellas didn’t do a bad job; they just had crap toys to play with. Pato may have done amazingly at Sonoma, but the car he was driving was about as related to the one that Conor and Gabby drove as a tiger is to a lion. Both are big cats but that’s about it. The reason is because the cars Pato and Colton drove had Andretti parts and were run by Andretti mechanics. Not surprising considering the two lads both drove for Andretti’s Lights team, and the new IndyCar team can be considered an Andretti B-team. Although I’m pleased these talents have come through and have rides, the fact that Conor and Gabby may not have a seat and that we have an apparent B-team is unfair and annoying for the fans, teams and drivers.
Moving on. This week some even more awesome news came out. Felix Rosenqvist is coming to IndyCar! Chip Ganassi has been trying to sign this guy for two years after Felix tested for him last year and the year before, but due to the Swede racing in Formula E he’s been unable to. Just in case anyone’s wondering who the hell he is, Felix Rosenqvist has won the European F3 championship; won races in Formula E, Indy Lights and the Blancpain Sprint Series; and had podiums in Super Formula and Super GT. Yeah, he’s a badass. Chip has this grudge against Americans where he doesn’t think they’re good enough, but in this case that’s kind of justified.
Even though I’m excited about Felix joining, I do feel for Ed Jones. This kid also has bags of talent and he’s showed flashes of brilliance this year. Trouble is, Ed’s had a few bad weekends, and a bad weekend when driving for Ganassi shows more than a bad weekend for Coyne, particularly if your teammate wins his fifth title and you finish 13th. Plus, Ed was a last-minute replacement for Brendon Hartley, so it would seem that the Brit was never a long-term option for Chip in the first place. I really hope Ed finds another ride, because like Chaves and Daly he doesn’t deserve to be out this early having promised so much.
See you in a fortnight.