Ganassi adds F2 race winner Armstrong to IndyCar line-up - The Race
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Ganassi adds F2 race winner Armstrong to IndyCar line-up

Dec 2 2022
By Jack Benyon

Marcus Armstrong will drive the fourth Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar entry on the road and street courses in 2023.

The 22-year-old had been strongly linked to a Dale Coyne Racing seat alongside David Malukas for next year, with The Race’s sources indicating a deal was done, but instead Armstrong will join Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou at Ganassi.

There had been uncertainty over how Ganassi would line up next year following Jimmie Johnson’s decision to scale back his IndyCar appearances, initially hoping for an Indy 500 entry although that has appeared less likely since he joined Richard Petty in a NASCAR team co-ownership deal that will lead to race outings in the Cup Series.

Ganassi is expecting to announce a driver for the oval races in the #11 car – a new number for the team, replacing Johnson’s famous #48 – that Armstrong will co-drive by the end of the month.

Armstrong will link up with the team’s current drivers and personnel at the team’s Indianapolis factory next week.

“I’m ecstatic to be a part of the IndyCar series, but especially with Chip Ganassi Racing because it is such an iconic and successful team,” said Armstrong.

“I have an extraordinary opportunity in front of me to learn from people that have been performing at the absolute highest level in this sport.”

Jimmie Johnson Grand Prix Of Portland By James Black Largeimagewithoutwatermark M69054

Armstrong told The Race after his IndyCar test in October about his affinity for now team-mate and fellow New Zealander Dixon, and how the six-time champion had ensured IndyCar was always on Armstrong’s radar.

“I’ve always been a big Scott Dixon fan,” said Armstrong. “Once upon a time I bought a signed visor of his when I just started karting, at a charity event that he ran in my hometown. So I’ve always been watching him. And so that’s cool.

“It was always quite well televised in New Zealand, obviously with Scott being so successful. I watched it quite a lot.”

Motor Racing Fia Formula 2 Championship Friday Baku, Azerbaijan

Armstrong, a Ferrari Academy driver for the majority of his junior single-seater career until the end of 2021, was the FIA Formula 3 runner-up in 2019, but his bid to race in Formula 1 was hampered by three consecutive 13th-place championship finishes in the F2 championship.

Nicholas Latifi had been strongly linked to a seat at Ganassi after the end of his Williams Formula 1 career, but The Race understands the talks stalled after a cancelled test.

With Armstrong getting the Ganassi seat, that leaves what will be a hotly contested full-time drive available at Dale Coyne Racing, a team at which David Malukas, Romain Grosjean and Palou have excelled at in recent seasons.

Linus Lundqvist, the reigning Indy Lights champion, looked to have been usurped for that seat by Armstrong but will now be hoping to re-enter the equation. Ex-Coyne driver Pietro Fittipaldi also reaffirmed his interest in IndyCar recently.

There’s also a full-time seat available at Juncos Hollinger Racing, and AJ Foyt has made it clear it is happy at two cars but has the resources to run an extra car for paying drivers. The rest of the seats on the grid are part-time and for the Indy 500.

There have been further changes at the Ganassi team in the off-season. Taylor Kiel – who left Arrow McLaren SP at the end of the season – has joined as team manager. Mike O’Gara, the previous operations chief, is moving over to oversee the sportscar side of the team.

Elsewhere, RACER has reported that engineer Ross Bunnell will join Ganassi to work with Scott Dixon.

Bunnell was only promoted to a full race engineer in 2022 for Malukas at Dale Coyne, but now appears to be on the move to work with Dixon.

It’s expected Michael Cannon – Dixon’s previous engineer, who also came from Coyne ahead of the 2020 season – will have a factory-based role. Dixon’s previous engineer Chris Simmons took over engineering Dixon in the second half of 2022, but is expected to return to his senior management position.

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