Winter is usually a slower time for the IndyCar fan. I sort of told myself I would take a more laid-back approach in December, getting in some extra (paying) work and spending time with family. However, IndyCar apparently had other plans:
-We've had the official announcement of Tony Kanaan in the much-vaunted #10 Target Chip Ganassi ride, and Ryan Briscoe announced for the #8 NTT Data machine. That means that Chip Ganassi will be featuring a team chock full of race winners: Kanaan, Briscoe, defending champion Scott Dixon, and the rising Charlie Kimball.
-Was Ryan Briscoe the right pick for the open Ganassi seat? I asked this on the social media rounds last week, and the result seemed to be a lukewarm-to-warm "yes". With Justin Wilson still under contract to Ganassi, unless Chip went with a youth movement, Briscoe just seemed the logical choice, given his experience with sponsors and top teams. Personally, I'm squarely in the IndyCar Blogger Fantasy Realm every offseason, which usually includes elaborate, groundless theories about Conor Daly, Bertrand Baguette, and Joey Hand, but when I come back down to earth, it definitely seems to be a safe pick that seems likely to work out pretty well for Ganassi.
-Outside of that, if recent interviews and commentary are any gauge, it sounds as if Sage Karam is having a hard time in finding a full-time spot in IndyCar for 2014. There are so many experienced drivers out there, and not many seats remaining--KVSH, a second Rahal ride, the ever-present 2nd Coyne--where does he slot in? It's great for the entire ladder system when the champs do move up, but right now, it's tough to see just how it's all going to pan out for 2013's Lights champ.
-In other Indy Lights-related news, Alex Baron (no, not Alex Barron) has signed with Belardi Auto Racing for the 2014 Indy Lights season. The young French driver (and USF2000) winner was quickest at the Chris Griffis test last month, and it will be interesting to see how he stacks up against other Lights contenders like Matthew Brabham and Zach Veach. It sounds like Lights is on track for possibly double digit car counts again next year, which doesn't sound like much, but would be a great step in the right direction.
-Are you up for one more bit of Lights commentary? Perhaps you saw where Jack Harvey will be joining the Schmidt Peterson Lights effort next year. The British prospect is going to have a bit of a transition to make, but his record as a rookie in GP3 this year compared favorably with drivers such as Conor Daly. It's an interesting add to a series, but we'll have to see how quickly he'll adapt to ovals. That's always the big question, isn't it?
So, a busy offseason clicks right along, and I have no doubt things will continue to pick up after the Christmas holiday. There are still seats to be filled, after all. Who's getting a nice present, and who will end up with coal?