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IndyCar Sebring February testing

Cassidy keeping options open after first IndyCar test

Nick Cassidy called it a “big honor” to test for Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda and he could be very interested in racing in IndyCar, but is keeping all his options open for 2024.

Nick Cassidy, Envision Racing, 2nd position, celebrates on the podium

Cassidy, fresh off a runner-up finish for Envision Racing in last weekend’s Formula E round, tested the Ganassi-Honda of 2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou at Sebring on Tuesday. Driving the sole Honda-powered car in action in the eight-car test, the 28-year-old New Zealander turned 156 laps of the 1.7-mile short course, and finished the day 0.636sec off top spot but within 0.4sec of the second place car.

Cassidy, who spent four seasons in Super Formula, winning the championship in 2019, admitted it took a couple of hours to adapt back to powerful open-wheel cars, but that by the afternoon he was able to give his best.

“I was really excited about today because of my Super Formula experience,” he told Motorsport.com, “but I’ve been out of those cars for over three years now, so I definitely needed the morning to blow off the cobwebs. But from lunchtime onwards I felt pretty good, and it was quite interesting to feel the similarities and the differences.

“Because of that Super Formula experience, my neck was fine, but I’ve know this test was coming up so I was putting in the work necessary, and physically I felt fine. In fact the biggest issue was jet-lag.”

Cassidy said the focus of this Sebring outing was running through test items for Ganassi and from that point of view he was mold his driving style around the inherent handling traits of an IndyCar rather than tweaking the car to suit him.

“It was a bit of both, but I was really more trying to adjust myself to the IndyCar,” he said. “The team is very successful, they certainly know what they’re doing, and they had development items that they wanted to go through. I tried my best to do that for them, and provide the best feedback I could, and more stick to their plan than change anything for myself. And actually, I think that was good for me.”

The biggest challenge, remarked Cassidy, was the Sebring short course itself.

“I felt pretty good with the car today,” he said, “but Sebring has got a couple of funky little corners, and bumps that were just new for me, because our styles of circuits are very different. The car itself is something I felt very comfortable with.”

Should he decide to transfer to IndyCar at some point, Cassidy said that he would be all-in, and eager to race on all types of course.

“If I’m going to be here, I’m going to be committed,” he stated. “The Indy 500 is something that everyone should dream to win. It’s one of the biggest races in the world. And I grew up racing speedway midget cars – on the dirt in ovals. Obviously a superspeedway in an IndyCar is quite a bit different, but I love all oval racing and I wouldn’t be scared of tackling ovals in an IndyCar.”

Regarding the future, Cassidy would not be drawn on which series appeals to him the most for 2024. He is only four races into the 16-round 2022-’23 season, but it’s known that he’s in the third and final year of his current contract with Envision. As well as his success in Super Formula, he was also a champion in Japan’s SUPER GT, and he has won races in DTM and Formula E. For now, Cassidy isn’t narrowing his field of opportunity in the medium-term.

“I’m keeping my options open, for sure,” he said. “If I look at my career, I’d say I’m quite loyal in terms of the teams. I was with TOM’S for six years, I’m in my third year with Envision in Formula E, so I want my next contract to be home for a long time in terms of team and championship. Whatever I end up doing, I want to be as committed as I can be.

“I really liked the IndyCar, I think the championship’s really cool, and I like longer races, the refueling, having to deal with dual tire compounds, and so on. But I’ve got to assess my options and everything’s open, so I’ll have to wait and see. I’m really lucky where I am at Envision, we look really competitive, and the championship’s strong.

“But whether you’re looking at IndyCar, Formula E, IMSA, WEC, the top drivers and top teams are all really strong and none of those championships are easy to just walk into. I’m one of those guys who never underestimates anything, I never really think that I’m better than anyone else. I know whatever move I make is going to require learning the championship, learning the team, and that’s when you can produce the results.

“It’s nice to talk about it and I’ll be excited for whatever comes next, I’m very positive, but it’s hard to say much more right now.

“What I can say is that it was great today to test for one of the world’s most successful racing teams – a big honor to drive one of Ganassi’s cars.”

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