Normally, I don’t like to speculate on silly season material, as I just wait until I have something concrete before posting anything. But, after getting a lot of questions on this topic on top of reading between the lines on some things, I decided to post why we could see some personnel/number changes with a few drivers at Andretti Autosport.
First off, we now know the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series driver lineup with the team. Three of their four drivers return (Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti) while Zach Veach is the newcomer replacing Takuma Sato. That announcement will be revealed officially on Friday at Sonoma.
But, it’s not necessarily going to be Veach to the No. 26 Honda while everyone else stays the same. While I do think Veach will be in the No. 26 (that was his number in the MRTI Series’ with Andretti) I think we could see some more swapping. I also think Ryan Hunter-Reay will remain in the No. 28 Honda too as that number is significant to him. The number 28, is a show of support for the estimated 28 million people living with cancer worldwide. Hunter-Reay’s mom passed away in 2009 due to cancer.
Those two numbers seem to be locked in.
But, I wouldn’t count out a shift for Marco Andretti from No. 27 to No. 98 and Alexander Rossi from No. 98 to No. 27. Here’s why.
We know the No. 98 Honda will be used with the team again. Bryan Herta confirmed that move at Watkins Glen. He’s always used that number since he formed Bryan Herta Autosport. With the “Bryan Herta Autosport” merger with “Andretti Autosport” on the No. 98 Honda, both sides confirmed that agreement is still indeed in place for 2018 and that the car number will remain the same.
Notice I said that they made it clear that the merger is intact as well as the number. I never mentioned “Rossi.” Neither side would confirm that Rossi would indeed be in the No. 98 Honda. After all, Rossi signed with “Andretti” not “Herta.” Both sides said they’d weigh all options before announcing who would be in the No. 98 next season.
If it was to stay status quo, wouldn’t you think they’d just say Rossi will remain with the same team for 2018 and the future?
So, with Hunter-Reay in the No. 28 and Veach bringing funding and with “Andretti” too, the No. 26 makes sense for him. That means that Marco seems like the logical choice to switch numbers. His contract with “Andretti” is up but he can reup with “Andretti-Herta Autosport” and move to the No. 98 entry. That gets him his change of scenery but not have to leave his family team in the process.
Marco, has switched numbers in the past. He ran the No. 26 from 2006 to 2012. Then, he moved to the No. 25 in 2013 and 2014, before going to the No. 27 from 2015 until now. So, a move to No. 98 isn’t out of the realm.
Also, Bryan Herta moved to Marco’s pit box for this season. That’s been a positive move for them. Herta confirmed at Toronto in July that he’s signed up to be on Marco’s pit box in 2018. Wouldn’t it fit to have Marco drive Herta’s entry?
I’m not saying all, some or any of this will come true, but I would look for this to possibly happen.