INDIANAPOLIS — We knew it would eventually come and on Thursday, it did – Santino Ferrucci will be back with Dale Coyne Racing for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season. The American will replace Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 18 Honda.
The reason though that the Connecticut native is in the 18, not the No. 19 is, Ferrucci was virtually replaced by rookie Alex Palou in that seat.
When Honda penalized DCR and Bourdais for manufacturer points in 2019, it hurt the team. They needed some additional funding to remain a two-car outfit and Bourdais didn’t have much.
So, with Vasser-Sullivan and SealMaster back on the 18 car, Palou made sense to take over the pay for play seat in the 19 and Ferrucci with his funding to come over to the 18.
Then there’s this, DCR is going to be in a rebuilding effort too this season. Gone are their two engineers from last year. They lost Craig Hampson (Arrow McLaren SP) and Michael Cannon (Chip Ganassi Racing) this offseason. Those were two big pieces for their engineering department.
Then, factor in losing a talented veteran like Bourdais and you get a big loss at three of their top four positions for race weekends.
In turn, you get a second year driver and a rookie driver with two new engineers for the upcoming season. That’s a big reshuffle. How fall will they drop though?
DCR used to be a backmarker but Justin Wilson and Bourdais turned that around in the driving department. Then, getting guys like Hampson and Cannon to lead engineering teams, DCR quickly moved forward.
The “TBA’s” of the world were gone from DCR and they had good planning/results. While they do know their lineup in January, it’s going to be a big test for them early on in the season.