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IndyCar Nashville

Armstrong targets full-time Ganassi IndyCar ride in 2024

IndyCar’s leading rookie Marcus Armstrong says turning his part-time ride with Chip Ganassi Racing into a full-time deal in 2024 is his main target for the rest of this season.

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Armstrong, who leads the rookie standings despite running a non-oval schedule in CGR’s #11 car, has scored top-10 finishes in half of his eight IndyCar starts.

He’s handed over the car to Takuma Sato for all of the oval events but has set his sights on running full-time with the team that leads this year’s championship with Alex Palou.

When asked by Autosport what his ideal 2024 plan would look like, he replied: “I haven't exactly kept it a secret, but I'd love to stay here at Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I think I've been reasonably vocal about trying ovals for the first time. It would be a dream come true to compete at the Indy 500.

“At the moment my focus is on just getting good results because my own results are going to help me in the long-term. It's not really in my hands on the contractual side, let's say.

“All I can do is just compete at the maximum of my ability, try and stay present, which is fairly easy seeing as though it's going well. The team, it's a very enjoyable environment.

“I feel like it's all trending in the right direction. I just have to keep pumping out some good results.”

Armstrong’s chances of retaining his seat are strengthened by the likely exit of Palou and team-mate Marcus Ericsson, although commercial requirements will play a role.

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images

Fellow Kiwi Scott Dixon will remain the pillar of the driving squad, while its other seats – both salaried and sponsorship-required – remain a hotbed of silly season speculation.

Former Ferrari Driver Academy member Armstrong, who won four races during three seasons racing in Formula 2, has impressed the team with his approach. He comes into this weekend’s Nashville round with a season’s best seventh place at Toronto last time out, but has only qualified in the top 10 once.

“I would say it's more so getting to the pace quicker,” he said when asked about his qualifying struggles. “I’ve been learning the circuits.

“Circuits have a lot of character. When you come back time and time again, like the other guys have, it's quite difficult to arrive straightaway and be as quick as them. I make big steps through the weekend from FP1 to the end of Q2, then the race.

“I feel like I just need to be, yeah, on the pace in FP1, then make smaller steps onwards. For the moment, I'm having to find big chunks from session to session.

“I understand that that's part of it, but I feel like we have everything. We have all the ingredients to do a very good job in qualifying. We just need to get there quicker and chip away at the small details leading into the final laps of quali, yeah.”

Armstrong claims that the requirement to share the ride with Sato this year hasn’t had a hugely negative impact on him, given that he’s learning the series without the huge jump of being thrown in at the deep end on high-speed ovals too.

“It isn't difficult to sort of step in and out,” he said. “I think throughout a season you always gain momentum and start to get into a rhythm.

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

“I mean, in a way I would love to sort of have the continuity of constantly racing, just chipping away at everything.

“Obviously the two disciplines are very different, oval racing and street [and road] course racing. Whether or not one complements the other, I'm yet to find out.

“In any case, I'm at the [oval] races. I'm sitting on the stand. I'm doing everything but driving the car, so... I don't feel like it's messing with my own performance.

“If anything, it's helping it because I actually get the time to sit back and chitchat with people that I wouldn't normally get the chance to do, talk a bit more personally, let's say, with my team-mates and everyone that I work with just due to the fact that I have more time on my hands.

“IndyCar weekends are very compact. You have a lot to do in a short amount of time.

“So having these weekends to actually sit back and communicate with everyone I think has been extremely beneficial, just to give myself a good perspective of the situation and why one guy is doing so well and what they all do differently.”

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