INDIANAPOLIS – We all knew that once the first domino of the Verizon IndyCar Series silly season fell, the rest of the major ones would quickly follow. Well, in the last two weeks, Bryan Herta Autosport and Andretti Autosport announced they’d stay together for 2017 with their No. 98 Honda entry. After that, they’d announce that Alexander Rossi would remain with the organization in that very ride that he won the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in as well as the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Then, Ed Carpenter Racing announced that Josef Newgarden wouldn’t be returning to the team in 2017 which sparked the next move – Newgarden signing to drive the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet.
From there, Chip Ganassi Racing switched from Chevrolet power to Honda engine power for 2017 and beyond. Then, today, the team announced that Tony Kanaan as well as his sponsor NTT Data would be back with the team in signing a “multi-year” deal to remain with the organization.
So, Rossi will stay with Andretti/BHA, Newgarden to Penske, Kanaan remaining with Ganassi and Ganassi also switching to Honda, what’s next? I’d say the next domino to fall now will be Sebastien Bourdais to Dale Coyne Racing. That should be announced within the next week or so, which will in turn will take a ride away from either Conor Daly or R.C. Enerson which then in turn leaves an open seat with KVSH Racing.
After that, Juan Pablo Montoya and what his future holds will be the next domino to fall. Montoya, wants to remain in the series in a full-time seat, but Penske would only offer him an Indy 500 only seat.
KVSH seems like a legitimate fit as Montoya and Jimmy Vasser being good friends and former teammates with Ganassi, would work. But, KVSH needs some big funding for that seat and Montoya may not have it.
A.J. Foyt Racing wanted Kanaan and/or Montoya, and with Kanaan staying with Ganassi, I’d say Foyt is the favorite to land Montoya because with ABC Supply staying with the team, Montoya doesn’t need to bring funding.
If Montoya ends up there, then either Takuma Sato and/or Jack Hawksworth will be out. I sense both are done with Foyt as it’s rumored Foyt will shift from Honda to Chevy for next season and beyond. That should be a huge hint on who Montoya will be replacing if he lands there.
Then, Carlos Munoz is the next domino. Foyt wants him too and having a Columbian duo of Montoya/Munoz with Chevy power will make A.J. Foyt Racing a huge contender again. I’m hearing this is more than 50-percent likely to happen.
That in turn leaves Daly or Enerson with KVSH and the No. 21 Chevy open with ECR. Daly, makes a ton of sense to join ECR as Ed Carpenter wants a young American with some experience in the series but young enough to groom like they did with Newgarden. Daly, makes the most sense as he’s Doug Boles’ step son and Carpenter is Tony George’s step son. I wrote before Daly signed with Coyne that this would be his best destination.
With how well Newgarden did in this seat and how great Daly did as a rookie in his Coyne ride, this is a match made in heaven. Also don’t count out the Fuzzy’s tie as the sponsorship is from Indiana and where does Daly hail from?
That should show the direction that this is heading leaving Enerson with Coyne’s second seat, and leaving just KVSH’s seat, a fourth Andretti seat and third Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports’ seat open.
Daly makes sense for the third SPM seat if he doesn’t land with ECR, but Jack Harvey is the lead candidate. The fourth Andretti seat is wide open to anyone to bring money which Shelby Blackstock is in the running for it.
Overall, these next few dominoes will continue to fall quickly as expect most of this to be confirmed by time the PRI show comes in December.
Eric Smith is a Senior Writer for the Indiana Sports Report covering Racing. He’s covered both IndyCar and NASCAR action since 2009 and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by both the IndyCar Series and all three divisions of NASCAR racing.
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