The Fulltime Grid is Now Complete

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After sharing our personal news on Monday, I am now behind on commenting on the IndyCar news that has suddenly started flowing. I’ll spend today and Friday catching up. Early last Friday morning, right at 6:00 am CST, Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) dropped the news on social media that Conor Daly would be driving the No. 20 car fulltime this season in the NTT IndyCar Series. On Friday, I’ll discus the third car at Foyt, and other news we’ve learned from IndyCar Content Days.

There were many surprising elements to this news. First of all, about six or seven weeks ago – it looked as if Conor Daly may be shut out altogether at ECR. Personally, I thought his best bet would be in some unspecified role at Carlin – if they answered the bell at all in 2022. Many people, including myself, penciled in Ryan Hunter Reay driving the No. 20 car on the non-ovals, while Ed Carpenter continued his campaign on the ovals. That’s not happening.

ECR (or perhaps Daly himself) has secured sponsorship through BitNile. You’ve never heard of BitNile? Neither have I.

Conor 1

The press release says: “BitNile Holdings, Inc. is a diversified holding company specializing in disruptive technologies, including cryptocurrencies and innovations in the field of Decentralized Finance (“DeFi”). BitNile focuses on large-scale crypto mining with energy-efficient, powerful operations strategically located in North America. In addition, they currently operate their own high-density data center. With a mission to simplify the DeFi process for all involved, BitNile invests in technology platforms that provide crypto holders a vehicle to earn interest on their crypto assets.”

What does that translate to? I have no idea. I might as well be reading a medical textbook explaining the intricacies of brain surgery. Obviously, it has something to do with Cryptocurrencies – which is another topic I know absolutely nothing about. The term disruptive technologies doesn’t sound like anything good, but what do I know? I still prefer writing checks to using Venmo. Paying bills online with my debit card is about as advanced as I get.

What I do know, is this is good for Conor Daly and the NTT IndyCar Series. By now, I think we know what Conor Daly is, and what he isn’t. I don’t think anyone is going to confuse him with Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden or Alex Palou. But I think he is a better driver than what his results have shown. This will be the first year since the 2017 season, that Daly has driven a full season with the same team. The last time that happened was in the second car at AJ Foyt Enterprises, in a season that was bad, even by their standards. I don’t think we can underestimate how lack of continuity from rce to race affects a driver.

With James Hinchcliffe out of the paddock and in the NBC booth, that’s one less engaging personality among the current drivers. Whether or not he is the fastest driver on the grid, the series is better off with Conor Daly in it.

While I may not know anything about cryptocurrencies or BitNile, I do know that this is one good-looking car. You can never go wrong with a blue and gold livery.

Conor 2

What does this mean for Ed Carpenter, the driver? The press release mentioned that the team would campaign a third car this year for Carpenter for the Indianapolis 500 (presumably carrying a different car number that No. 20). There was a vague mention of the possibility of Carpenter running a third car at other races, but nothing was confirmed at this time for Ed, except for the Indianapolis 500.

It would not upset me if Carpenter became an Indy-only driver. With two fulltime cars on the grid, I think he and team would be better served if he devoted all of his attention to running his team, rather than trying to focus on driving at Texas, Gateway and Iowa.

I’ve stated that before and incurred the wrath of some readers. They wondered who was I to tell Ed Carpenter how he should run his team. I’m flattered that they think that Ed Carpenter comes to this site for direction on the best way to run his team, but we know that’s not happening. It’s just my opinion, and since it’s my site, I have the right to state my opinion.

Now that the music has stopped in this game of musical chairs (rides), the one left standing without a chair is Ryan Hunter-Reay. All of the full-time rides on the grid have been filled. I think the best that Hunter-Reay can hope for is either a fourth car at either Rahal Letterman Lanigan for the Indianapolis 500, or the same in a third car at Dale Coyne.

Listening to Trackside last week, they were entertaining the possibility of Hunter-Reay in a fourth Penske car for the Indianapolis 500. I’m not sure that Roger Penske, the team-owner, would do that; but Roger Penske might see a benefit as the owner of the series and IMS. They also floated a scenario that had Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) running Hunter-Reay in a third car for the 500 as some sort of super team, with six Indianapolis 500 wins among the three drivers. I’m not sure I see that happening, especially with MSR having a technical association with Hunter-Reay’s old team, Andretti Autosport.

As it usually is in this business, good news for one driver is bad news for another. While Conor Daly’s IndyCar career has been given a new lease on life, Ryan Hunter-Reay’s is now officially running on fumes. That’s the nature of the beast.

George Phillips

5 Responses to “The Fulltime Grid is Now Complete”

  1. “In business theory, disruptive innovation is innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually displaces established market-leading firms, products, and alliances.”

    Now we know……

    • Matthew Lawrenson Says:

      Makes you wish for all those Entirely Legitimate motorsports sponsors of the past, doesn’t it? Racing is a always a good way to get through dubious money because it burns through cash so fast.

    • Dope mutha Says:

      Makes you wonder if bitniile is such a player why would they come to a bottom tier driver on a 3rd tier team. This has ges and rich energy written all over it

  2. Matthew Lawrenson Says:

    Rumour is Hunter-Reay will be the oval driver for the Foyt car Tatiana Calderon will be running on the roads and streets. Depends how desperate ol’ Captain America is to continue in the series. All the fulltime rides are gone.

  3. billytheskink Says:

    Part of the reason none of us have heard of Bitnile is because name is just a few months old, it is a spinoff and rebrand of a holding company that has been around for over 50 years. Granted, none of us had likely heard of Ault Global Holdings either…

    Daly certainly doesn’t lack for hustle when it comes to finding sponsorship, and that’s worth appreciation (and, pragmatically, a ride) in this day and age. Personally, I’d still like to see Carpenter at the other ovals as well, but that will likely depend on how much money he’s willing to fish out of the Sonax petty cash drawer.

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