2018 IndyCar Grid

A.J. Foyt Racing

Car NumberDriverHometownAge2017 TeamStartsWins
4Matheus LeistNovo Hamburgo, Brazil20Indy Lights - Carlin Motorsport00
14Tony KanaanSalvador, Brazil42Chip Ganassi Racing34317

Notes: Matheus Leist joins the team as the youngest full-time driver in IndyCar for 2018.  Upon returning home from the CBS reality show The Amazing Race, Conor Daly found a hastily-written pink slip announcing his departure after one season with A.J. Foyt Racing.  While Brazilian money will help fuel this campaign for Leist, the youngster did win three races in his maiden Indy Lights season with Carlin Motorsports.  This includes a dominating wire-to-wire victory at Indianapolis in Carb Day’s Freedom 100.  Quick in nature, Leist could be an interesting candidate for Rookie of the Year at Indy … Oh and there’s this: 17-time IndyCar winner and 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan has joined the team!  After years of admiration from afar, the two will finally link up in 2018 in an attempt to bring Foyt back to a competitive state on a week-to-week basis.  The combination of Kanaan and Leist creates another single-country driver lineup (similar to Team Canada at Schmidt Peterson and Team America in previous years at Ed Carptenter Racing) that will certainly provide excitement and passion.  Kanaan assumes the role of mentor for the younger Brazilian and the two will be a duo to watch for at A.J.’s playground, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

Andretti Autosport

Car NumberDriverHometownAge2017 TeamStartsWins
*25Stefan WilsonSheffield, South Yorkshire, England28No Team20
26Zach Veach (R)Stockdale, Ohio22AJ Foyt Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing20
27Marco AndrettiNazareth, Pennsylvania30Andretti Autosport2002
28Ryan Hunter-ReayFt. Lauderdale, Florida36Andretti Autosport21816
98Alexander RossiNevada City, California26Andretti Herta Autosport332

Notes: * Stefan Wilson will be an Indianapolis 500 entry for Andretti Autosport.  After forfeiting his Indy 500 ride in 2017 in favor of worldwide star Fernando Alonso, Wilson’s good nature was rewarded with a spot in the 2018 edition of the race.  It is unclear at this time whether Stefan will run both Month of May events (as is common for Indy-only entries) or simply the Indianapolis 500, but the big hurdle is out of the way for Wilson and now he gets a long offseason to plan what should be a competitive run at IMS … Zach Veach makes his move to full-time Verizon IndyCar Series competition with Andretti driving the #26 machine in 2018, with a contract that runs through 2020.  Veach, 22, appeared in two races this past season including an Indianapolis 500 ride with A.J. Foyt Racing.  He made a cameo appearance with Ed Carpenter Racing at Barber Motorsports Park as a sub for the injured J.R. Hildebrand, finishing 19th and completing each lap of the race.

 

 

Carlin Racing

Car NumberDriverHometownAge2017 TeamStartsWins
TBAMax ChiltonReigate, England26Chip Ganassi Racing330
TBACharlie KimballCamarillo, California32Chip Ganassi Racing1171

Notes:
 Announced on December 12, Carlin Racing will make its IndyCar debut in 2018 with drivers Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball.  Racer.com reported in early October that team owner Trevor Carlin purchased at least one brand new Dallara DW-12 chassis from the Italian manufacturer, and that Max Chilton’s father is indeed a backer in the program.  Employees freed of their previous positions following the season finale have been contacted in an effort to construct a staff, and it seems that everything is moving in the right direction … Predictably, Max Chilton was tabbed with one of the two seats after an improved 2017 season and his father’s backing.  Max dropped his average finish from 16.1 in 2016 to 12.2 last season, led 64 laps and capped his year with a respectable 11th place finish in the championship.  That was right behind veteran teammate Tony Kanaan at Ganassi … Veteran driver Charlie Kimball and his Novo Nordisk partnership will also join the British outfit in 2018, reuniting the team with a driver it was paired with once in the developmental levels.  In 117 starts, Kimball has six podium finishes, a pole in 2017 at Texas and a victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2013.

 

 

Chip Ganassi Racing

Car NumberDriverHometownAge2017 TeamStartsWins
9Scott DixonBrisbane, Australia37Chip Ganassi Racing28741
10Ed JonesDubai, United Arab Emirates22Dale Coyne Racing170

Notes: Four-time series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon returns for his 17th season with Chip Ganassi Racing.  Dixon has praised the 2018 universal aero kit after a couple testing sessions, and has some optimism for a fast start next season … For the first time since 2010, Ganassi will run just two cars after drivers Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball were relieved of their duties.  After Tony Kanaan’s departure for A.J. Foyt Racing, the 10 car seemed to be earmarked for New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley.  After two starts in Formula One for Scuderia Toro Rosso, a move to Ganassi felt much less certain for Hartley.  Those doubts were realized on October 25 when former Dale Coyne Racing driver Ed Jones jumped on the scene and snatched the 10 for his own.  Toro Rosso seems to have exchanged goods for Hartley’s services, and Jones has been rewarded for an impressive 2017 rookie campaign which saw him grab top tens in five races including 3rd at the Indianapolis 500.  Does that mean everyone is happy?

 

 

Dale Coyne Racing

Car NumberDriverHometownAge2017 TeamStartsWins
18Sebastien BourdaisLe Mans, France38Dale Coyne Racing17136
19OPEN

Notes: Just when it appeared that Dale Coyne Racing was going to keep their driver line-up intact for 2018, Ed Jones jumped ship for Chip Ganassi Racing and left the DCR #19 car with a familiar “TBA” tag.  Sebastien Bourdais, fortunately, has recovered from his injuries sustained in a punishing crash at Indianapolis during qualifications and beat the odds to run in each of the final three races in 2017.  Remarkably, in those final three contests (Gateway, Watkins Glen and Sonoma) Bourdais finished each lap and recorded top tens in two of the events … With the #18 locked in, who could find themselves alongside Bourdais by St. Petersburg?  A logical fit would be Conor Daly, a full-time driver for Coyne in 2016 who finished runner up at Belle Isle and had four additional top-10 finishes.  Unfortunately there will be a price tag on this ride to fill the funding void left by Jones, and that is where Zachary Claman de Melo enters the picture.  Though his funding is not a finished product just yet, there is promise for Claman de Melo as an impressive debut with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing at Sonoma has garnered attention.  This feels like another typical Coyne offseason, where we may not know the second driver until teams begin to arrive in St. Petersburg for round one.

 

 

Ed Carpenter Racing

Car NumberDriverHometownAge2017 TeamStartsWins
20Ed Carpenter (Ovals)Paris, Illinois36Ed Carpenter Racing1703
OPEN (RC/SC)
21Spencer PigotLos Angeles, California24Ed Carpenter Racing & Juncos Racing220

Notes: Continuing with the norm, Ed Carpenter will be back to run the ECR #20 car on ovals only, including the 102nd Indianapolis 500 on May 27 … In more interesting developments, Ed graduated Spencer Pigot from the #20 car’s road and street course program to a full-time gig in the #21 car vacated by J.R. Hildebrand.  That leaves the twisties open for audition, and Conor Daly has also been considered a fit for this seat.  Ed may have a soft spot in his heart for a fellow Indiana native, and even though it felt like a rough year for all involved at Foyt it was Daly who began to make strides as the season progressed.  He set career highs for lead lap finishes and laps completed while closing the year strong, averaging an 8.6 finish over the final three races of the season.  At this time there are no other clear candidates for the #20 car.

 

 

Michael Shank Racing with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Car NumberDriverHometownAge2017 TeamStartsWins
60Jack HarveyBassingham, United Kingdom24Michael Shank Racing30

Notes:  Using lessons learned in 2017 by teaming up with Andretti Autosport for the 101st Indianapolis 500 and then two races at the end of the season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, Michael Shank and his driver Jack Harvey are expanding their IndyCar efforts in 2018 to a minimum of six confirmed events.  Teaming up as “technical partners” for the 2018 campaign, the MSR #60 piloted by Harvey will compete at the season opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, 102nd Indianapolis 500, Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, Grand Prix of Portland and the season finale at Sonoma Raceway.  Appearances at the KOHLER Grand Prix of Road America and the Honda Indy Toronto are also on the table if the right pieces fall in place.  Supported heavily by AutoNation and SiriusXM, the program and it’s alliance with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will last for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, so look for an even larger slate of races for the Michael Shank crew if things go well in 2018.

 

 

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Car NumberDriverHometownAge2017 TeamStartsWins
15Graham RahalColumbus, Ohio28Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1776
TBATakuma SatoTokyo, Japan40Andretti Autosport1352

Notes: Joining Graham Rahal at RLL in 2018 will be defending Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato, leaving Andretti Autosport to create another interesting two-car pairing … Rahal had a strong 2017, winning both races at Belle Isle in Detroit to go with 11 top-10 finishes and a 6th-place result in the championship.  While it wasn’t his highest championship finish, Graham did set career-bests in laps led, average finish and lead-lap finishes.  Look for continued improvement if the addition of a teammate helps RLL develop setups quicker with the new car … With the announcement that RLL would expand to two cars full time in 2018, the addition of Takuma Sato from Andretti Autosport makes for an exciting storyline in 2018.  Sato joins the team after a one-off run in 2012 at the Indianapolis where he dueled Dario Franchitti down to the final lap before crashing from second place.  Following four years with A.J. Foyt Racing, Taku had a career-best finish of 8th in the driving championship and set career highs in average start and average finish.

 

 

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Car NumberDriverHometownAge2017 TeamStartsWins
5James HinchcliffeOakville, Ontario, Canada30Schmidt Peterson Motorsports1065
7Robert Wickens (R)Toronto, Ontario, Canada28Mercedes-Benz AMG DTM00

Notes: James Hinchcliffe returns to SPM for his fourth season with the team, attempting to build onto a 2017 season in which he recorded three podium finishes and a win at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  While Hinch posted seven top-10 results, he also had six finishes of 20th place or worse, and that contributed to a 13th place standing in the 2017 IndyCar campaign … Following Mikhail Aleshin’s departure from the team mid-season, the #7 team split its driving duties between Sebastian Saavedra and Jack Harvey.  While Robert Wickens ruled out an IndyCar future after filling in for Aleshin at Road America, the timing seemed to be a little better when he was announced as the 2018 pilot of the #7 car.  “Team Canada” is one of the more intriguing pairings as we get ready for 2018 competition, with Wickens a proven talent from the DTM ranks and Hinchcliffe’s continued maturation as an open-wheel artist.  Keep an eye out for SPM next season.

 

 

Team Penske

Car NumberDriverHometownAge2017 TeamStartsWins
1Josef NewgardenHendersonville, Tennessee26Team Penske1007
*3Helio CastronevesSao Paulo, Brazil42Team Penske34430
12Will PowerToowoomba, Australia36Team Penske18732
**22Simon PagenaudPoitiers, France33Team Penske11811

Notes: *Helio Castroneves will be an Indianapolis 500 entry for Team Penske … **Simon Pagenaud’s number is TBD with Josef Newgarden assuming the #1 as defending champion; his previous number is 22 … Team Penske returns all drivers from its 2017 lineup, who filled 4 of the top 5 positions in the IndyCar championship.  The only difference lies in Helio Castroneves, who will move to Penske’s endurance racing program and run an Indianapolis-only IndyCar slate this coming season … Josef Newgarden will run the #1 as defending series champion in 2018, and all eyes will be on him to contend for an Indianapolis 500 victory after an impressive debut with Team Penske.  While most expected a bit of a transition period for the Tennessee native, Newgarden rattled off 3 wins over the last 6 races to capture the season title … Will Power returns for his 10th season at Team Penske, with the 2014 IndyCar champion coming off a 2017 in which he won 3 races, secured 6 poles and led 443 laps … Simon Pagenaud had a strong showing as defending series champion last season, but it fell just short of Newgarden’s late season tear.  In an amazing feat of consistency (and a bit of luck), Pagenaud completed each of the 2,331 laps of the IndyCar season and secured wins at Phoenix and Sonoma … Roger Penske confirmed early in October that he will run four cars at Indianapolis next May, and that means Juan Pablo Montoya will need to make a new friend if he is to return for his sixth Indianapolis 500 appearance.