We are less than a month away from the start of the 2024 NTT IndyCar Series season. A mere 26 days, to be precise, and at the end of those 26 days will come a new opportunity for several of the series’ drivers to finally put 2023 behind them and to actively turn their efforts to this year’s campaign.
For some of these drivers, 2024 will hopefully be just a step along the way in a much, much longer and storied career. For others, this may be the season of truth. What’s more, some drivers have not just something to prove, but everything to prove as they look to firmly establish themselves as names to remember in the IndyCar garage.
Armstrong’s rookie season was a quiet one, but don’t let that convince you that the young New Zealander didn’t make an outstanding impression in his freshman campaign.
No driver enters the season with their ambitions set at a top-20 points finish – at least, none of them would admit it. However, Armstrong did just that and did so with one very meaningful caveat: he was only in his No. 11 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda for 12 of the season’s 17 races. Splitting duties with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato, Armstrong made the most of his time in the car on road and street courses, chalking up five top-10 results in 12 entries, with a best finish of sixth on the streets of Toronto.
Armstrong will be manning the No. 11 Honda full-time for 2024, joining a heavy-handed squad for CGR alongside rookie Kyffin Simpson, fellow sophomore Linus Lundqvist, the omnipresent Scott Dixon and defending champion Alex Palou.
Take Armstrong’s performance from 2023 to a full-time scale in 2024, factoring in two doubleheaders in Iowa and Milwaukee, and the CGR team could be looking at a big points haul this season.
Why waste time? Simpson didn’t light the world on fire in his Indy NXT. Two podiums (Indy road course and Mid-Ohio) in 2023 were commendable performances, but from across the 2022 and 2023 seasons, the young Caymanian only netted a ninth and 10th-place finish in the standings, respectively.
As such, talk has floated around that Ganassi is more interested in Simpson’s budget than Simpson himself. Simpson’s father, David, has had a working relationship with CGR since 2022, when his company, Ridgeline Lubricants, began sponsoring multiple Ganassi entries.
That said, Ganassi snagged one of IndyCar’s most iconic sponsors over the offseason and we will soon see…