As the off season in IndyCar racing is progressing there has already been definite movement among drivers and teams. Perhaps the biggest move is that of 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato from Andretti Autosports to Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing for 2018 where he will be a teammate of Graham Rahal. Sato was with the Rahal-Letterman team in 2013.
Tony Kaanan has left Chip Ganassi Racing to join the A. J. Foyt Enterprises team. The Foyt team experienced a disastrous 2017 season with Connor Daley’s 5th place at Gateway Park — the best finish the team could muster. A switch from Honda to Chevy engines seems to have blown up in the teams face….literally! Neither Daly or Carlos Munoz was retained. Kanaan departing from Ganassi was not a surprise. It had been rumored all season long as his contract expired in August and there was no word of a renewal. No teammate for Kaanan has been named yet on the Foyt team and Ganassi has yet to announce a replacement for Kaanan although James Hinchcliffe’s name has been mentioned as a possibility. As Ganassi is only running 2 cars in 2018, Charlie Kimball is most likely out.
Zach Veach has joined Andretti Autosports for the entire 2018 season, taking Sato’s place. In 2017, the 22-year-old Ohioan drove at the Indy 500 for Foyt racing and at Alabama for Ed Carpenter. He is still considered a rookie in the series, however.
Gabby Chavez has secured a ride for the full season with Harding Racing. The 25-year-old Colombian was the 2015 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. He finished 9th at Indy last year.
Ed Carpenter Racing has signed Spencer Pigot to drive the full series for the team. No word yet on the status of J.R. Hildebrand, last season’s lead driver. Hildebrand had a 3rd at Phoenix and 2nd at Iowa but was generally a non-contender for the season.
Now we come to Helio Castroneves. The 3 time winner who finished half a second behind Sato for second place at Indy will once again drive for Penske, but will do as Juan Pablo Montoya did last year and compete only at the IndyCar Grand Prix and at the Indy 500. As for Montoya, there is no word yet on whether or not the 2 time winner will be a participant or not.
Both seats in the Schmidt-Peterson Honda team are open but it is possible that Jack Harvey who drove at Indy and then the final 2 races of the season could wind up in one of the cars.
There is a great deal of time left and there will be a great deal more moves and deals before the first race of next season at St. Petersburg.
Big Blue Now 2-3
Last weekend was the biggest of the year so far for the Colts and their fans as the Peyton Manning statue was unveiled and Peyton’s jersey #18 was retired in a halftime ceremony. David Letterman hosted the unveiling and some of Manning’s teammates and Jimmy Irsay were on hand. Vice President Pence and his wife were in attendance as well. The nation knows what happened at the game Sunday. The Vice President and Mrs. Pence left in protest when some 49ers took a knee during the national anthem. This incident has been debated at length so there really isn’t anything I can add to it. I just hope we all can move on.
The game itself was basically about two struggling teams trying to find a way to save their seasons. The Colts had a single win over the hapless Browns and the 49ers were winless. The 49ers have a good defensive front 4 and solid linebackers. The offensive line is okay and their skill players are decent. Much-traveled journeyman Brian Hoyer is the quarterback. He was with the Bears last year and Houston the year before. He has a good arm and puts up solid passing stats but he just does not win games.
As to the Colts, the big boys for the team on Sunday were wide out TY Hilton, rookie running back Marlon Mack, and Adam Vinatieri on offense and linebacker Jon Bostic and safety Matthias Farley. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett was having a reasonably good day until his late game goal line interception enabled Frisco to tie the game and send it into overtime. As usual the Colts had no pass rush and the Horseshoe offensive line couldn’t keep the pressure off of Brisett.
Marlon Mack gained 91 yards on just 9 carries, including a 22 yard touchdown run. Bostic kept hammering the middle of the 49er offensive line. Hilton made some drive saving catches. Adam V, Mr #4 won the game in overtime with a 51 yard field goal. So the Horseshoe didn’t let Mr. Manning down, and the Colts nation was on his side Sunday. The 49ers look to be headed for a top three draft pick again.
So now the Colts are 2-3 and in a three way tie for second place in the AFC South with Tennessee and Houston. Jacksonville is in first with a 3-2 record. We’ve got Tennessee in Nashville this coming Monday night. Normally I would give the odds to the Titans but they are without their star quarterback Marcus Mariota, so anything can happen. Who knows? Maybe we will be 3-3 next Tuesday morning.