Ganassi adds another Kiwi in Armstrong to the IndyCar lineup

Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan all his life and when he was 8, the aspiring New Zealand youth runner asked him to hang his autographed helmet visor on his bedroom wall.

Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate next year.

Armstrong was named the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup on Friday and will drive the No. 11 next season on roads and street courses. A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. The 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to number four cars in a sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon plays 9 and 2020 No. IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives X n.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup? A 22-year-old who has spent the past three seasons in the Formula One manufacturer’s F2 series, Ferrari’s development driver in 2021, and a former teammate of Callum Illot and former teammate Christiana Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it was one of those championships that was televised really well in New Zealand when I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time went on, as I got closer to F1 and single seaters, the attraction to IndyCar became stronger, which is why it’s a competitive championship – I like to challenge myself and the competition in IndyCar is very high.”

Armstrong, a Christ needs no introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s childhood hero.

Dixon won his 53rd career race last season to tie Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. For Dixon, Ganassi drove in all but 23 of his 345 career home runs.

“I’ve been a fan of Scott Dixon for a long time. I don’t want to compare it to our age,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference between them, Armstrong never once considered racing with Dixon as a fantasy.

After winning five national karting championships, he convinced his father to leave Italy for New Zealand at the age of 14, where he moved on to a career in backpacking. Armstrong said, pretending to have received parental permission, he never looked back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after the move to Italy and won the title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, followed by four wins and eight podiums in three F2 seasons.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I could do great in the game,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to be successful in the game, you have to believe in yourself. I’ve always pictured myself in IndyCar.

“Like Scott’s teammate? I can’t really say I’ve seen it. It’s a unique series of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but only has 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi started the trend in 2016 when he left American F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He was followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, and Lundgaard on Thursday. three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick He was announced as a driver for Andretti Autosport in the second-tier IndyCar development series.

Armstrong said he could stay in F2 for a fourth season, but he had been looking at IndyCar for so long, and after talks with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series. the world He tested Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is for good, he just wants to be in IndyCar now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that’s in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to do as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic event that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a port – I’m looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I’m here.”


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