Winning top rookie despite missing five races was a “tough ask” – Armstrong


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Marcus Armstrong says consistent points-scoring was key to winning IndyCar’s Rookie of the Year title despite missing five of the 17 rounds.

The Ganassi driver only contested the road and street circuits on the calendar this year, missing all the oval rounds. Despite that disadvantage Armstrong ended the season with 214 points, matching the haul of full-time driver Santino Ferrucci.

Armstrong also out-scored his fellow rookies who contested full seasons. “To win the Rookie of the Year championship, I’m extremely pleased to finally lock that down,” he said. “Obviously we didn’t do five races, so it was going to be a tough ask, for sure.”

He peaked with seventh place at Toronto and finished eighth on three occasions, including yesterday’s season finale at Laguna Seca.

“We finished every race, we were consistent, we had some good results,” he reflected. “Sometimes I think we could have done a lot better. [But] we were consistent and fast enough to win it without the ovals.”

The former Ferrari Driver Academy member has already been signed up for a full year in IndyCar next season. He found life in America “quite different to racing in Europe.”

“There is certainly a family culture that is embedded inside the team, which is not common in high-performing racing teams,” said Armstrong. “There’s always a mix between professionalism and a social environment within this team, which I think I like a lot more than what I’ve experienced previously. I feel like they have brought me into their family and really taught me everything. ”

Among those he’s enjoyed the benefit of learning at Ganassi is from six-times IndyCar champion – and fellow New Zealander – Scott Dixon.

“Everyone’s been open,” said Armstrong. “I’ve asked Scott a million and one questions, so I’m very annoying. Everyone else, as well. They’ve all answered truthfully – as far as I know! It’s been great.”

While IndyCar’s rookie drivers have had less time to practice at some events compared to previous years, Armstrong said he’s had better preparation for races than he was used to in recent seasons.

“I would say I get more track time than in other series that I’ve done,” he said. “Like in F2 last year we were really, really tight on push laps. That’s for another reason that’s because the tyre just can’t do so many push laps. Here I actually think I’ve done quite a decent amount of laps in the race weekends.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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6 comments on “Winning top rookie despite missing five races was a “tough ask” – Armstrong”

  1. Had he driven last year, he would have finished 3rd in the rookie standings if you look at the average points per race driven between him, Lundgaard and Malukas. And that’s Ganassi vs RLL vs DCR. Im not very impressed by what he has brought this year and there is certainly no basis for a multiyear deal at a top team when looking at performance alone.

    1. True, but it’s awarded considering current rookies. He had a good year and is very lucky to continue at Ganassi. Like Palou, they certainly see something in him.

    2. There was double points at the Indy 500 last year so he is close to Lundgaard only 0.1 off when you take that into account.

  2. I’m no expert on Indycar but it seems the circuits are way more challenging to drive and I think track experience makes a big difference in this series. He was much closer to the front when they went to a new track that everyone had to learn which kinda proves my point. So I suspect when he goes back for another season we will see him more competitive and he has the benefit of learning from Dixon and Palou which isn’t at all bad.

  3. I don’t know if it was a tough task… his main rookie rival was a guy that didn’t speak english and had not turned a single wheel in a open top car…

    He was good but the rest of the rookie rooster wasn’t brilliant in the circumstances…

    1. @fer-no65 technically, Agustín Canapino has driven in an open wheeled car – that said, it was the grand total of 2 races in the South American Formula 3 championship in 2011. Still, as you note, Armstrong faced rather limited competition (a couple of pay drivers and a touring car driver trying to cope with a major language barrier).

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