At the 12-car Sonoma test in February, one IndyCar stalwart, a man I’ve always known to possess a healthy cynicism, remarked: “Is it just me or are we finally on an up-tick here? A real one, I mean – not just blowhards saying, ‘Everything’s great’?”
I agreed that his optimism wasn’t misplaced, that there had been quite a few steps forward recently.
“This,” he continued, “is the most positive off-season I can remember since the [Indy Racing League/Champ Car] merger 10 years ago. Actually, more positive, because the merger was needed but, shit, those first couple of years were rough. And we lost a lot of good people.”
Skip forward 10 years, on the eve of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, and the situation is very different. There are new teams coming in – Carlin and Harding full-time, Juncos and Michael Shank Racing part-time, while Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has expanded to two cars. These more than offset the fact that Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing have reduced their fulltime lineups by one and two cars, respectively.
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