MADISON, Ill – The racing world has seen a shift recently in terms of direction. See, teams can’t run more than really 4-5 cars per season. It just gets too expensive to do so. But, they can run more and collect more data if they actually team with another organization.
It’s happening in both NASCAR as well as IndyCar.
On the NASCAR side, Joe Gibbs Racing was aligned with Furniture Row Racing for a few years before FRR had to shutter their doors. That alliance has since shifted to Leavine Family Racing.
JGR has five drivers under contract to run in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next season but only four seats available. That’s a NASCAR rule to keep the big teams from having a monopoly on the sport. So, the way to rectify that is to work closer with LFR and put one of their five drivers there.
That’s shifted to IndyCar now. While teams aren’t capped to how many cars that they can run, they can align and work in a different way.
Andretti Autosport aligned with Harding Steinbrenner Racing for the 2019 season and put Colton Herta in that seat. It’s worked for Andretti too. Herta, won in the second race of the season in COTA and have had the benefit of having a fifth car per say for all season activity.
We’ve recently learned that Chip Ganassi Racing is interested in a similar deal with a team. Meyer Shank Racing has done so the last two years with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports but with SPM teaming with McLaren for 2020 and needing to switch to Chevrolet, that left MSR eyeing a new team to align with.
Now, Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing is potentially on the search too. Graham Rahal noted in his media availability on Friday that instead of adding a third car for 2020, maybe they seek an alliance instead.
He notes that they could use a third car in any way that they can get it.
“It would help,” said Rahal. “I don’t think we’ve been good enough as maximizing the two cars, to be honest. Something from even practice today, we were emphasizing, we need to divide and conquer. We show up to a racetrack every weekend, we have 20 different things to try. There’s no way that one car can get that done. We weren’t good enough before at just splitting that task up and staying committed to it, making it happen.
“This morning was definitely a really good improvement with that. So for sure three cars would be better. Trust me, every available driver in this pit lane has called me as if, like, I’m a decision maker. The door of my motorhome was like a round-robin coming in last week. What is going on here?
“Yeah, that’s not my department. It would be good if we can figure it out. As you guys know, what has worked well and will continue to work well, these partnerships, as long as IndyCar allows it, doesn’t crack down on it, these partnerships like a Harding and Andretti, which is really just Andretti all the way around.”
Rahal, notes that a loop hole that Andretti and HSR have found is that they can be in two separate places testing and get data for each. I mean, we have three races left in the season and Andretti/HSR had cars at two of those three remaining tracks just last week.
“What it’s allowed them to do is like Colton (Herta) could come here (Gateway) and test last week because he’s not considered Andretti, while the Andretti cars were out in Portland testing,” Rahal continued. “They can double up on their data and testing, which we cannot do. We weren’t able to test at either place because of the way our testing rules are. We need to look at partnerships like that, too, because that’s a big benefit. Until they crack down on it, that’s a big benefit.”
Will the series crack down on it? I’m sure they’re looking at regulating it because this could get out of control but until they do, why not make the most of it?