Marcus Armstrong was a fan of Scott Dixon all his life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his New Zealanders to autograph the visor helmet that hung on his bedroom wall.
Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate next year.
Armstrong named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will govern n. 11 next time in the streets and roads.
A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.
In No. 11 is essentially in No that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has driven in the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars in a consecutive order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.
So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?
A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in the Formula One manufacturer’s F2 series, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and a former teammate of Callum Illot and former team-mate Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just finished their rookie IndyCar seasons.
“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that was really well televised 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 grew, which is why it’s a championship – I like to challenge myself and the level of 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.
Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory 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 difference, Armstrong never once considered racing with Dixon as a fantasy.
After winning five national karting championships, he convinced his father to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at the age of 14, where he moved to pursue his own racing career. Armstrong said, pretending to have received parental permission, he never looked back.
Armstrong moved to Italy two years later in Formula 4 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 believe in yourself to be successful in the game. 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. It’s followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as a reserved 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 consolidate myself in the fantastic event that is IndyCar and just do my best.
“I’m not looking for F1 as a landing spot – I’m looking for IndyCar, and that’s exactly what I’m here for.”
New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong teams up with childhood idol Scott Dixon first appeared in NBCSports.com