Silly Season ’17: A Succinct Synopsis

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Penske pared back, Ganassi got leaner, Rahal redoubled and Foyt became even less relevant. Perhaps the greatest concern – apart from the second rate schedule – is the car count for 2018.

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After yet another IndyCar title thanks to Josef Newgarden’s pivotal piloting, Penske’s crew will consist of only three cars for the first time since 2014. At 42 the ever popular Helio Castro-Neves finally has been put out to pasture, where presumably he can climb all the fences he wishes. The formidable trio of Pags, Power and Newkid will carry the Cap’n’s colors in the upcoming campaign, easily remaining the odds on favorites nearly every weekend.

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Not one to be outdone when it comes to downsizing, the Chipster cut loose Tony “Time to call it quits” Kanaan, Max “Paris” Chilton and Charlie “Pinball” Kimball in one fell swoop. Surely the high cost of new car parts entered into Ganassi’s thinking. All time great Scott Dixon is to be paired with ROY robbed Ed Jones, who showed real flashes of potential in his rookie campaign with Dale Coyne, making his effort even more impressive. Ganassi not only got leaner this silly season, but also better with all the changes.

Seven year veteran Kimball’s future remains up in the air, though he recently indicated he’s optimistic and “90%” certain about a ride next season. Precisely where the ride may materialize among a couple of the series’ lesser teams is anyone’s guess, while Chilton’s status in the series seems even more perilous. Coyne appears set to return with Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais and the typical TBA listed for the second car.

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Photo from indycar.com

Indy 500 winner (it still feels weird to write that) Takuma Sato left Andretti Autosport to return to Rahal Lanigan Letterman Racing, where he raced futilely earlier in his IndyCar career. For the first time, talented legacy Graham Rahal will have a full time teammate – using the term loosely in Sato’s case, of course.

Andretti Autosport returns with Indy 500 winners Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay (with the hyphen here to stay) and newcomer Zach Veach from Ohio. The team’s also retaining Marco Andretti, for some totally inexplicable reason. Speaking of the unexplained, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is going with an all Canuck lineup of Hinch and someone named Robert Wickens. Further worsening the situation, they’re bringing in a French wife killer for Indy, of all things.

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AJ Foyt Racing again blamed the drivers for their umpteenth consecutive woeful showing and made matters worse by bringing in the washed up Kanaan. Detroit winner Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly were both let go and remain in the ranks of the unemployed. Foyt’s other driver still hasn’t been announced, though in reality it matters little. Expect more of the same from the consistently irrelevant team.

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Fruition of the long rumored birth of Harding Racing as a full time team with Gabby “Pat” Chaves behind the wheel remains to be seen, although we’ve an awesome shop banner suggestion for them if and when they do. Other rumored teams remain just that – rumors.

Clearly such marked team contraction – along with the arrival of expensive new chassis – raises the continuing concern of low car counts going forward.

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