The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season is currently enjoying a much-needed summer break following a succession of races, and with six races remaining here at Paddock Eye we thought we would take a look at what the 2022 season might look like in terms of driver line-ups.
Here is what we know so far:
Team Penske will remain a four-car outfit with Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Scott McLaughlin all set to stay next season while Simon Pagenaud is also expected to put pen to paper on a new contract in the near future.
Chip Ganassi Racing is expected to stay as they are with Scott Dixon in the No.9 PNC Bank Honda, Alex Palou in the No.10 NTT DATA Honda, Marcus Ericsson in the No.8 Huski Chocolate Honda while Jimmie Johnson and Tony Kanaan will once again share the No.48 Carvana Honda. Paddock Eye understands, however, that Chip Ganassi is considering expanding to a five-car operation as Kevin Magnussen could race for the team.
Andretti Autosport is expected to remain a four-car team with both Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi on long-term contracts with the team, Paddock Eye understands that James Hinchcliffe is looking elsewhere for a race seat next season and wants to remain full-time in the series, however, the Canadian has endured an extremely tough season in the No.29 Honda for Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport while Ryan Hunter Reay is expected run a part-time schedule in 2022 with DHL and Paddock Eye understands that Oliver Askew who currently serves as a driver coach for Andretti Autosport’s Indy Lights team could be in line for a return to the NTT IndyCar Series sharing the No.28 Honda with Hunter Reay.
As for the No.29 Honda, is expected to go to Kyle Kirwood who is currently competing in the Indy Lights with Andretti. Marco Andretti is expected to return for the Indianapolis 500 while he is also expected to sign an agreement to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Romain Grosjean has also been touted for a full-time IndyCar program with Andretti Autosport and he would drive either the No.28 or 29.
So where would leave James Hinchcliffe? Paddock Eye understands that the Mayor of HinchTown could take his Genesys sponsorship to Dale Coyne Racing to replace Romain Grosjean. Ed Jones is expected to remain with Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan Racing if Jimmy Vasser and James Suli Sullivan decide to remain involved in the sport.
AJ Foyt Racing is expected to keep Sebastien Bourdais although team president Larry Foyt has said that the team wants to keep Bourdais because they have shown great speed but they just have been unable to achieve the results they feel they deserve. It is possible that Dalton Kellett could be replaced with Larry Foyt admitting on Friday that the team are looking at all of their options with includes the possibility of Tatiana Calderon who tested for the team earlier this week however, speaking to The Paddock Eye this week the Colombian said that she would see what the future holds and that for now she is focused on the World Endurance Championship.
Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly are expected to stay put next season with Ed Carpenter continuing to compete on ovals.
The Paddock Eye understands that Paretta Autosport who made their race debut with Simona De Silvestro at the Indianapolis 500 in May are looking into running a full-time IndyCar program for 2022 so that team could be a possible destination for Tatiana Calderon but that depends on what Simona De Silvestro’s plans are for 2022.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is expected to expand to a three-car full-time program with Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato expected to be joined by Santino Ferrucci or James Hinchcliffe, however, Paddock Eye understands that a deal for Hinch to go to RLL is a very remote possibility.
RC Enerson could join the NTT IndyCar Series full-time in 2022 with Top Gun Racing possibly making their full-time debut in the IndyCar Series despite failing to qualify for Indianapolis 500.
It is not clear what Carlin Racing plans to do for the 2022 season but Paddock Eye understands that it is probable that Max Chilton and Conor Daly will once again share the No.59 Gallagher Chevrolet. It is also possible that Dreyer and Reinbold Racing will compete full-time in the NTT IndyCar Series in 2022 with Sage Karam in the No.24 Chevrolet.
Meyer Shank Racing is expected to expand to a two-car team in 2022 with Jack Harvey joined potentially by defending Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves who will be back in the cockpit of the No.06 Honda for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix however, Meyer Shank Racing could also be a potential destination for the Mayor of HinchTown, James Hinchcliffe.
The picture for 2022 should become clearer as he heads towards the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville next month.