The 2023 NTT IndyCar Series begins this coming weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg with the largest full-time field in several years at 27 cars. A couple of teams have expanded operations while others have maintained their multi-car lineups as the era of single car teams is now over.
Let’s dive into the 2023 IndyCar field on a team by team basis in alphabetical order.
A. J. Foyt Enterprises
There’s no nice way to say that A. J. Foyt’s team was at the bottom of the 2022 IndyCar points table. None of the team’s two full-time cars placed high enough to finish in the Leader’s Circle purse-sharing program that goes to the top 22 cars in owner points, with exceptions.
The team that is split between Indianapolis and Texas made some changes in the offseason, hiring engineer Michael Cannon and drivers Santino Ferrucci and Benjamin Pedersen to replace Kyle Kirkwood and Dalton Kellett. Recent history suggests that this move is akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, owing to the fact that Conor Daly, Carlos Munoz, Charlie Kimball, Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais and Kyle Kirkwood couldn’t bring the team a win.
With Cannon on board, that could bring enough of a shakeup to the engineering department to affect change, but more resources will need to be devoted to the team in order to move further up the grid.
Michael Andretti’s team has fallen out of the Big Three teams in IndyCar. Once sharing a spot alongside Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske, Andretti Autosport is trying to figure out how to win its first championship since a week before the iPhone 5’s debut in 2012.
The driver lineup has undergone a lot of change with a 75 percent turnover since 2021. Colton Herta is the longest-tenured driver with 2021 Indy NXT champion Kyle Kirkwood taking over Alexander Rossi’s seat for 2023. Romain Grosjean enters his second year with the team after a runner-up finish at Long Beach, a fourth at Road America and a fifth at St. Petersburg constituted his main high points in 2022. Devlin DeFrancesco also returns for his second year with the team after a tumultuous rookie season and the team have work to do to get back into victory lane.
Herta and Rossi both had one win each last season, but several small mistakes cost the team valuable points that would have put them higher in the standings. With Kirkwood joining the team, hopes are high that the Florida native can find his junior formulae magic and work it in IndyCar.
The newest member of the Big Three in IndyCar have made their intentions known with their aggressive expansion for 2023. Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist return to the team for their third year together but are joined by Rossi in a new third car.
O’Ward was a championship contender while Rosenqvist really improved his results as 2022 continued. However, the main thing beating the team was themselves. Both O’Ward and Rosenqvist had two non-contact mechanical retirements in 2022. Given the consistency Will Power showed in winning last year’s championship, those retirements can’t happen if the team wants to win their first title. Expect big things from this squad.
Chip Ganassi Racing
Finishing third, fifth and sixth in points in 2022 was a very good year for Chip Ganassi Racing, though the questions always is what could have been. Scott Dixon was less than one mile per hour over the pit road speed limit at the 2022 Indianapolis 500. Had he not sped, Dixon wins his seventh championship before the season finale.
However, teammate Marcus Ericsson picked up the spoils, giving the team’s eponymous owner his first Indianapolis 500 win since 2012. As for Alex Palou, he won the IndyCar crown in 2021, the first CGR champion not named Dixon since Dario Franchitti in 2011. A July 2022 contract dispute that spilled over through the second half of the season provided an unwelcome distraction to the team. In spite of that, Palou won the season finale in such a dominant fashion that the dispute might be in the rear view mirror going forward.
Marcus Armstrong joins the team in the newly-renumbered 11 entry following Jimmie Johnson’s departure. Armstrong will contest the road and street course races while Takuma Sato will race on the ovals. Sato on the ovals will be a potent combination as the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner looks to put his face on the Borg Warner Trophy one more time.
Dale Coyne Racing
The little minnows that could return in 2023 with David Malukas and a rookie in Sting Ray Robb. Malukas returns in the No. 18 entered in partnership with his family’s team, HMD Motorsports, while Robb will compete in the No. 51 machine entered with Rick Ware Racing.
Malukas nearly won Rookie of the Year in 2022 and was one lap away from winning the race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. The 1.25-mile oval near St. Louis was kind to the Chicago native in Indy NXT and may be a race to watch in August.
Robb, the 2020 USF Pro 2000 champion, had 11 top-five finishes in the 2022 Indy NXT season en route to a championship runner-up finish. This pair could be punchy in 2023 under the right circumstances.
Ed Carpenter Racing
A team that were the very definition of “mid” in IndyCar in 2022, ECR’s main strong point heading into 2023 is stability. The team retained Rinus VeeKay in the No. 21 Chevrolet while Conor Daly is in his second full-time season with the team after racing part time in the No. 20 Chevrolet in 2020 and 2021.
For Daly, a fifth at the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a sixth in the Indianapolis 500 were the only highlights of a year that saw him finish 17th in IndyCar points. Meanwhile, VeeKay had a third place finish at Barber Motorsports Park and a pair of fourth place finishes en route to a 12th place finish in points.
Team owner Ed Carpenter will compete again on the ovals in 2023 and the team will be strong again at Indianapolis if recent history is an indicator, but as for the road and street courses it can be a mixed bag.
If the team perfectly nails the optimum setup for a road course weekend and the proverbial black hole of luck doesn’t strike, then their cars will be near the front.
Juncos Hollinger Racing
The last single car team in IndyCar racing expanded to a second car for 2023. While Callum Ilott did a fantastic job for the small organization, team co-owner Ricardo Juncos wanted to bring in a second driver and found that driver in fellow Argentinian Agustin Canapino.
Canapino is a multiple touring car champion in Argentina and impressed many in spring testing at the Thermal Club near Palm Springs. The team overall remains small, but don’t count them out. Ilott qualified second in the 2022 season finale, so keep one eye focused this direction.
Meyer Shank Racing
There’s not a nice way to say that 2022 did not go as planned for Meyer Shank Racing. Helio Castroneves won the 2021 Indianapolis 500 for the Ohio-based team and then became the highest-placed driver in the 2022 field to not record a top-five finish. Meanwhile, Simon Pagenaud finished second at the GMR Grand Prix in May and then didn’t have another finish above seventh for the rest of the year.
The 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner finished 15th in points, three spots above his more seasoned teammate. If 2022 was a year of growing pains, then 2023 should be better for the former Team Penske teammates.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
One team that expanded operations for 2022 was Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Jack Harvey and Christian Lundgaard joined Graham Rahal to form the team’s first three-car lineup since 2006. The team had several rather anonymous results before a test session at Sebring International Raceway helped turn things around for the team.
The team threw everything and the kitchen sink at trying to improve their road and street course setups and that immediately paid dividends with Rahal finishing fourth at Toronto. Lundgaard finished second at the second IMS road course race and Rahal finished fifth again at Portland International Raceway in September.
Harvey did not have a good season by any metric, but 2023 offers the two-time Indy NXT championship runner-up an opportunity to fix what went wrong in 2022.
The reigning series champions are back with their same three car lineup as 2022. Last year’s champion Will Power is a favorite to repeat again but Josef Newgarden has finished second in the championship standings the last three years in a row. However, the big wild card is Scott McLaughlin. After scoring three wins in 2022, the three-time Supercars champion can’t be ignored in 2023.
All three drivers can fight for the title and finished first, second and fourth in IndyCar points last year. A repeat is certainly possible for the Mooresville, N.C. team.
Champion: Will Power. If he races with the same attitude as last year, then Power can win his third championship. There is a caveat to this, however. If McLaughlin wins two races before June, then the title will go to McLaughlin.
Indy 500 winner: Takuma Sato. Not racing for a championship, Sato will have no reason to think long-term about whether he should or shouldn’t go for a move. Then again, with a motto of “No Attack, No Chance,” Sato has always been one to watch at Indianapolis. A third win at The Greatest Spectacle in Racing is a possibility for the Japanese racer.
Rookie of the Year: Agustin Canapino. Canapino is racing for a team that has a lot of potential and he will adapt to IndyCar racing quickly.
Most improved: Kyle Kirkwood. After getting a year under his belt at A. J. Foyt Racing, Kirkwood will be in a familiar environment and will have more opportunities to succeed in 2023. If the cards go well, expect Kirkwood to win a race.
Wild Prediction: Scott Dixon goes winless. Yes, Dixon is the modern-day IndyCar GOAT, but there were fewer podium finishes in 2023 than there were in the three previous seasons. Dixon’s four podiums was his lowest since matching that number in 2015 and 2016. Has Father Time caught Dixon? Only time will tell.