ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Sunday, March 5, 2023) – Marcus Ericsson dodged multiple incidents in a chaotic season-opening race for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, winning the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Sunday in a day overflowing with drama.
2022 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Ericsson earned his fourth career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory by 2.4113 seconds in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda over runner-up Pato O’Ward in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet.
Ericsson, who started fourth, took the lead when O’Ward slowed suddenly exiting Turn 14 on Lap 97 of the 100-lap race when his engine shut off momentarily due to a brief fire in the plenum chamber of his powerplant.
“I feel bad for Pato for having the issue, but that’s racing,” Swedish driver Ericsson said. “You need to get there to the finish line. We were having such a good weekend. The car was fantastic all the way through. We were hunting him down, putting the pressure on, and that’s when things happen. It was a hell of a start to the season.”
Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon finished third in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Alexander Rossi finished fourth in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet in his debut with the team after seven seasons at Andretti Autosport.
Callum Ilott rounded out the top five after starting 22nd in the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet, with his 17 spots gained the most of any driver in the race.
O’Ward took the lead on Lap 74 when leader Scott McLaughlin in the No. 3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet and second place Romain Grosjean in the No. 28 DHL Honda collided while dueling side by side for the lead, both plunging into the tire barriers in Turn 4. McLaughlin had just exited the pits on cold Firestone tires after Grosjean had pitted earlier and was on warm rubber, and McLaughlin took responsibility for the incident in a post-race interview.
McLaughlin and NTT P1 Award pole sitter Grosjean were the dominant drivers out front, leading 37 and 31 laps, respectively.
On the ensuing restart on Lap 79, O’Ward built a 2.8-second lead in just one lap and appeared to be destined for victory. But Ericsson steadily chipped at O’Ward’s gap, helped by saving twice as much Push-to-Pass time as O’Ward for the final stint of the race.
Ericsson pulled to within one-half second of O’Ward on Lap 97 when O’Ward’s car suddenly slowed with the plenum problem and then regained speed.
“We did everything right today,” a crestfallen O’Ward said. “There’s always something. The boys deserved that. Compared to where we were here last year, this is a massive step. But we gave that one away. We can’t have that happen anymore. I know we’re second, but …”
Ericsson slipped past O’Ward, taking the lead for the first time and cruising to the checkered flag to enthrall a chanting corps of Swedish fans in the grandstands. Ericsson will split $10,000 with his Chip Ganassi Racing team and his chosen charity, Riley Children’s Foundation, for his victory as part of the PeopleReady Force For Good Challenge.
Two major incidents on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit thinned the 27-car field in the first half of the race.
On a restart on Lap 41, Rinus VeeKay’s No. 21 Bitnile.com Chevrolet nosed into the barriers in Turn 4 amid heavy traffic. The No. 30 Kustom Entertainment Honda of Jack Harvey had nowhere to go and plowed into the back of VeeKay. Then the trailing No. 27 AutoNation Honda of Kyle Kirkwood hit the rear of Harvey’s car and vaulted over that machine and VeeKay’s wounded car.
Harvey was taken to a local hospital in stable condition for further evaluation as a precautionary measure, according to INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Julia Vaizer. The other drivers in the incident were unhurt.
The race started with a chaotic incident on the first lap. Felix Rosenqvist’s No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet and Dixon’s car made side-by-side contact in Turn 2, with Rosenqvist being shoved into light wall contact.
That minor clash triggered a big, chain-reaction collision involving six cars that wiped out two teams’ hopes for a strong finish in the race. Drivers involved: Meyer Shank Racing teammates Helio Castroneves in the No. 06 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda and Simon Pagenaud in the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM, AJ Foyt Racing teammates Santino Ferrucci in the No. 14 AJ FOYT RACING/SEXTON PROPERTIES Chevrolet and rookie Benjamin Pedersen in the No. 55 AJ FOYT RACING/SEXTON PROPERTIES Chevrolet, rookie Sting Ray Robb in the No. 51 biohaven Honda and Devlin DeFrancesco in the No. 29 EVTEC Honda.
DeFrancesco’s car was tossed into the air in a pirouette when T-boned by Pedersen in the unfolding maelstrom. None of the drivers involved in the incident was hurt.
The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is the PPG 375 on Sunday, April 2 on the 1.5-mile oval at Texas Motor Speedway.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Saturday, March 4, 2023) – Romain Grosjean led an Andretti Autosport sweep of the front row in qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Saturday, winning the NTT P1 Award for the second time in his career.
Grosjean, from France, led the Firestone Fast Six with a best lap of 59.5532 seconds in the No. 28 DHL Honda on his final trip around the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit that hosts the opening race of the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Teammate Colton Herta qualified second at 59.9687 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.
It was the first pole for Grosjean since May 2021, when he took the top spot for the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course as a series rookie after a decade of driving in Formula One.
“Last year was a really good end of the year, good winter testing,” Grosjean said. “We got here, and I said, ‘Boys, yeah, I think we’ve got something.’ We put it out.”
The 100-lap race starts at noon ET Sunday, with live coverage on NBC, Peacock, Telemundo Deportes on Universo and the INDYCAR Radio Network. A 30-minute pre-race warmup starts at 9 a.m., live on Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
Grosjean’s pole lap completed his rollercoaster of a day. He spun off track in Turn 13 in the morning practice, with his car becoming stuck. Four hours later, he was celebrating the NTT P1 Award with his wife, Marion, and their three children, attending their “home” race from their residence in Miami.
It also marked a powerful return to form for Andretti Autosport, which won just two races and three NTT P1 Awards last season. Grosjean was winless and didn’t earn a pole last year in his highly anticipated first season with Michael Andretti’s team.
“I knew last year that something was just not coming my way,” Grosjean said. “We worked hard to find something.”
Pato O’Ward will start third as the fastest Chevrolet-powered driver in the field after a top lap of 1:00.0163 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet.
“Man, those Andretti cars are quick around here,” O’Ward said. “We knew that coming into the weekend. I’ve got to say the team arrived here with such a good package for me compared to last year. Last year we truly started on the back foot. We’ve got a car to fight with tomorrow.”
2022 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Marcus Ericsson qualified fourth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, with a top lap of 1:00.4435 thrilling a merry band of supporters from his native Sweden in the sun-splashed grandstands.
Kyle Kirkwood will start fifth in the No. 27 AutoNation Honda as he earned a spot in the Firestone Fast Six for the first time in his young NTT INDYCAR SERIES career and in his Andretti Autosport. Kirkwood drove for AJ Foyt Racing last season as a rookie.
Reigning race winner Scott McLaughlin rounded out the Firestone Fast Six in the No. 3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet.
Neither Kirkwood nor McLaughlin recorded times during the Firestone Fast Six due to separate incidents, with their best times from the second segment establishing their starting spots. McLaughlin spun exiting Turn 12 late in the session, triggering a red flag and erasing his two quickest laps to that point. That incident left time for only one more flying lap in qualifying for the remaining drivers in the Fast Six.
Kirkwood’s dream weekend to this point took a turn early in the Firestone Fast Six. He slid through the grass and into the wall in Turn 14 as he was approaching his first flying lap. Kirkwood was fourth in both practice sessions leading into qualifying, but his Andretti Autosport crew will have extra work this evening rebuilding the damaged nose and left front of his car.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Friday, March 3, 2023) – It’s hard to believe, but none of legendary six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon’s 53 career wins have come on the streets of St. Petersburg.
That might change Sunday, if the results of the opening practice Friday are any indication.
Dixon was quickest during the opening practice session of the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, turning a top lap of 1 minute, 1.6145 seconds in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon will look to take the top step of the podium in the race Sunday (noon ET, NBC, Peacock, Telemundo Deportes on Universo, INDYCAR Radio Network) after four second-place and two third-place career finishes at this event.
“The first session was a little messy,” Dixon said. “The session ran really long, an hour and 15 minutes, which was good. A couple sets of tires for most of the field. We ended up at the top, which is a nice way to start the weekend. Now the tough part is trying to stay there.”
Up next on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit is practice at 10 a.m. ET Saturday, followed by NTT P1 Award qualifying at 2:15 p.m., with live coverage of both sessions on Peacock.
It was a strong start to the season for Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport, whose drivers took the top four spots.
2021 St. Petersburg winner Colton Herta was second overall with a top time of 1:01.6475 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda fielded by Andretti Autosport. 2021 season champion Alex Palou ended up third at 1:01.6790 in the No. 10 The American Legion Honda fielded by CGR.
Kyle Kirkwood produced a strong start to his Andretti Autosport career in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES by placing fourth at 1:01.6851 in the No. 27 AutoNation Honda. Kirkwood drove for AJ Foyt Racing last season as a rookie before returning to the team with which he won the INDY NXT by Firestone championship in 2021.
2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five at 1:01.6963 in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda fielded by Meyer Shank Racing despite stopping on course just shy of halfway into the 75-minute session.
Rinus VeeKay was the quickest Chevrolet-powered driver, sixth at 1:01.8514 in the No. 21 Bitnile.com Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter Racing. Marcus Armstrong was the quickest of the four rookies in the field, ninth at 1:01.9444 in the No. 11 Ridgeline Lubricants Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
2022 St. Petersburg race winner Scott McLaughlin was one of a handful of veteran and rookie drivers who encountered problems between the unforgiving concrete walls of the circuit, which includes the streets of St. Petersburg and a runway at Albert Whitted Airport. McLaughlin was 10th overall at 1:01.9882 in the No. 3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet despite brushing the wall and damaging a toe link during the session, forcing repairs in the pits.
NDIANAPOLIS (Friday, March 3, 2023) – Simu Liu, the groundbreaking star of Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings,” will ride in the Fastest Seat in Sports at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding, leading the full field of drivers to the green flag of the season-opening NTT INDYCAR SERIES race Sunday, March 5.
The live telecast of the race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, will start at noon ET on NBC, Peacock and Telemundo Deportes on Universo.
INDYCAR’s Fastest Seat in Sports is a high-speed, high-octane, super-charged thrill ride in a custom INDYCAR SERIES car with a special back passenger seat. At almost every race on the schedule, the car advances the field of drivers to the start/finish line to signify the beginning of the race, with a special passenger in the guest seat. Previous participants in the Fastest Seat in Sports include Lady Gaga, NBA champions Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard, actor Channing Tatum and many others.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES represents the ultimate challenge in racing, with drivers competing at speeds of 200+ mph across a demanding set of ovals and road and street courses. The race for the championship begins this weekend on the sunny city streets of St. Petersburg.
Liu made history as the lead of the first Asian-fronted movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which earned him the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Action Movie Star.
For five seasons, Liu starred in the CBC/Netflix comedy series “Kim’s Convenience,” which won the ACTRA Awards for Outstanding Ensemble in 2017 and was also nominated for the same award in 2018.
He most recently completed production on Greta Gerwig’s feature “Barbie” for Warner Bros. opposite Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling and will next star alongside Mark Wahlberg in “Arthur the King” and on the film adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s bestseller “One True Loves” opposite Phillipa Soo.
Liu’s New York Times best-selling memoir, “We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story,” was released by Harper Collins last May. He also was named as one of “The World’s Most Influential People” in June 2022 by TIME magazine.
Many Innovative Features Bring Action, Excitement to Fans Everywhere
INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, March 2, 2023) – INDYCAR and NTT DATA have joined forces to reimagine and redesign the popular INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA, with the new-look app available now internationally for all Android and iOS devices.
The INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA gives fans the insider’s edge on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, North America’s premier open-wheel championship and one of the most competitive racing series globally. With the power of NTT DATA’s best-in-class mobile technology, the INDYCAR App in 2023 provides a better experience for fans by fully capitalizing on the capabilities of modern iOS and Android devices and platforms.
“While downloads and use of the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA grew to unprecedented levels in 2022, we wanted to continue to work with our innovative partner NTT DATA to make this an even more essential way for fans to follow the world’s most exciting racing series,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “Mobile continues to be one of the most popular ways to engage our new and existing fans, and we want to bring the action, excitement and personalities of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to our fans wherever they are, whenever they want.”
Among the highlights and features of the new INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA:
Live timing and scoring leaderboard data in near-real time, with an enhanced 2D track map and driver-specific telemetry information
Single sign-on feature for fans to seamlessly enjoy the race across multiple Android and/or iOS devices, connect through social channels and access premium features
Exclusive livestream videos, along with highlight clips, race recaps and video features
Integration with INDYCAR Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone, the official fantasy racing game of INDYCAR
New for 2023: Users can select multiple favorite drivers and teams, allowing fans to stay up to date on what matters most to them
A minimum of 11 in-car cameras during the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season and up to 15 in-car cameras for select races
Detailed schedule with a list of races, locations, session times and broadcast channels for the entire season
Race-specific content, including INDYCAR’s interactive spotter guide, pit assignments and the full weekend schedule
Custom push notifications for race start times, news updates, special announcements and more
“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Penske Entertainment to bring new digital technologies to help expand and enhance the racing experience, especially on race day. That’s what the redesigned NTT INDYCAR Series mobile app accomplishes,” NTT DATA Services CEO Bob Pryor said. “We expect INDYCAR’s passionate fan base will appreciate the new app to debut now, so they can have it on hand for the 2023 season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.”
The robust new app debuts just before the 2023 season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on March 3-5 at St. Petersburg, Florida. Fans can download it at Google Play for Android devices and the App Store for iOS devices. The app automatically will update for existing users who have automatic updates turned on their devices.
This new app launch comes after the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA reached more fans than ever in the 2022 season. Growth increased to 68,000+ users on race weekends, and over 110,000+ users during the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, both all-time records. There were more than 188,000 new app downloads in 2022, the most in a single racing season.
McLaughlin Puts Viewers in Driver’s Seat before Season Debut with ‘ZERO’
NDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, March 1, 2023) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES offers the most competitive and challenging racing in motorsports, and its new promotional campaign will bring all the action, drama and intrigue to new audiences as the season gets ready to launch this weekend.
The first INDYCAR campaign spot of the year – “ZERO” – focuses on the fierce race for victory at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding at St. Petersburg, Florida, where exactly ZERO mistakes can be made by the driver hoping to stand atop the podium Sunday, March 5.
“ZERO” is narrated by 2022 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race winner Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske.
In the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, every track and every race is different – but the one thing they have in common is their combination of breakneck speed, harrowing turns, epic crashes and unbeatable competition. As the season progresses, INDYCAR will introduce a new spot, tailored to various stops on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar and narrated by a driver with a special tie to that event.
“We know our racing is the best on the planet, and we know there’s no greater challenge in motorsport than winning an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race,” said Penske Entertainment President & CEO Mark Miles. “From a very personal and engaging perspective, our drivers are going to tell everyone what makes our sport unique and what it takes to win at each specific venue.”
Spots will run from Wednesday to Sunday of Race Week and are part of a larger multichannel, national media plan.
INDYCAR partnered with creative agency Motive to develop the spots and with local Indianapolis agency EchoPoint Media as a paid media partner. The next spot will be unveiled ahead of the PPG 375 on Sunday, April 2 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Live coverage of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding starts at noon ET Sunday, March 5 on NBC, Peacock, Telemundo Deportes on Universo and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
Race distance: 100 laps / 180 miles (NTT INDYCAR SERIES) | 45 laps / 81 miles / 55 minutes (INDY NXT by Firestone)
Push-to-pass parameters: NTT INDYCAR SERIES: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum single duration of 15 seconds. The push-to-pass is not available on the initial start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race. | INDY NXT by Firestone: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation
Firestone tire allotment (NTT INDYCAR SERIES): Six primary sets, five alternate sets (teams must return a set of each before qualifying). One additional set of primary tires is available to rookie drivers for use in the Friday afternoon practice session.
Scott McLaughlin (No. 3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet)
INDY NXT by Firestone
Matthew Brabham (No. 83 Andretti Autosport)
2022 NTT P1 Award winner (NTT INDYCAR SERIES): Scott McLaughlin (No. 3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet), 59.4821 seconds, 108.940 mph
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
Will Power, 59.3466 seconds; 109.189 mph, Feb. 26, 2022 (set in Round 2 of qualifying)
INDY NXT by Firestone
David Malukas, 1 minute, 4.6491 seconds, 100.233 mph, April 23, 2021
NBC Sports telecast: Race, noon ET Sunday, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey is the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, alongside analysts Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee and Dave Burns are the pit reporters. Telemundo Deportes on Universo will provide a Spanish-language telecast.
Peacock Live Streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions, qualifying and races as well as INDY NXT by Firestone races will stream live on Peacock, NBC’s direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.
INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the anchor alongside driver analyst Davey Hamilton. Nick Yeoman, Jake Query and Michael Young are the turn announcers. Ryan Myrehn, Alex Wollf and Georgia Henneberry are the pit reporters. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race and all NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying sessions air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM INDYCAR Nation 160 and SiriusXM NBC Sports Audio 85, racecontrol.indycar.com and the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA. All INDY NXT by Firestone practice and qualifying sessions and races are available on racecontrol.indycar.com, the INDYCAR App and SiriusXM 160.
At-track schedule (All Times Local/Eastern Time):
Friday, March 3
1:55-2:40 p.m. – INDY NXT by Firestone practice, INDYCAR LIVE
3-4:15 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, Peacock
Saturday, March 4
9-9:45 a.m. – INDY NXT by Firestone practice, INDYCAR LIVE
10-11 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice (Limited guarantee of 45 minutes of green flag time), Peacock
1:35-1:55 p.m. – INDY NXT by Firestone qualifying (15-minute session or eight minutes of green condition, whichever comes first), INDYCAR LIVE
2:15-3:30 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), Peacock
Sunday, March 5
9-9:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock
10 a.m. – INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (45 laps / 81 miles / 55 minutes), Peacock (Live)
Noon – NBC Sports on air
12:23 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines”
12:30 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding (100 laps / 181 miles), NBC, Telemundo Deportes on Universo and Peacock (Live)
“3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR” AT ST. PETERSBURG:
1. Can anyone dethrone the kings? Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske have won the past 10 titles with Scott Dixon, Will Power and Josef Newgarden combining for eight of them.
So, who breaks the streak? It’s best to look Arrow McLaren, where Alexander Rossi (No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet), Felix Rosenqvist (No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet) and Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet) are employed, or Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda).
Those four drivers were the highest-placed drivers in the championship who didn’t drive for Team Penske or Chip Ganassi in 2022. Herta, O’Ward and Rossi are the only three in that group to find victory last season.
Just remember, if you come for the kings, you better not miss.
2. Power Plays Poles at Will. Will Power is the greatest qualifier in modern INDYCAR SERIES history, as his 68 career poles are the all-time series record.
The tale of Power’s qualifying success can best be told through the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, where he has won nine of the last 13 poles.
The only drivers to score a pole in the last 10 years in St. Petersburg not named Will Power are Takuma Sato in 2014, Robert Wickens in 2018, Colton Herta in 2021 and Scott McLaughlin last season. In total, Team Penske has won the pole position in 11 of the past 16 St. Petersburg races.
Power has scored at least one pole position in each season since 2009, including five NTT P1 Awards last year. It’s a sure bet that the reigning series champion will add to his record this season, and don’t be surprised if it starts during NTT P1 Award qualifying Saturday afternoon.
3. Dixon seeks his first win on the streets of St. Petersburg. Who wouldn’t take Scott Dixon’s resume as an NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver?
He has six NTT INDYCAR SERIES championships, which trails only the seven INDYCAR SERIES titles collected by A.J. Foyt. His 53 wins rank second on the all-time INDYCAR SERIES victory list, behind Foyt’s 67, but Dixon has never won at St. Petersburg.
Still, he has been successful on the streets of the Florida Gulf Coast city.
Dixon has four runner-up finishes at the circuit and has an average finish of 7.88 in his 18 previous starts. He has finished in the top 10 in his last seven starts.
NTT INDYCAR SERIES Notes:
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding will be the 20th INDYCAR SERIES race on the streets of St. Petersburg, dating to 2003. Scott McLaughlin won the 2022 race after starting from the pole position. Paul Tracy won the inaugural race on Feb. 23, 2003, under CART sanction, while Sebastien Bourdais started from the pole that year.
The St. Petersburg INDYCAR SERIES race has been run every year since 2003 except for 2004. No driver has competed in every St. Petersburg race, but Scott Dixon has started 18 consecutive races.
The 27-car field for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding is the largest NTT INDYCAR SERIES field at St. Petersburg. The previous high for the race was 26 in 2008, 2012 and 2022.
Helio Castroneves (2006, 2007 and 2012), Will Power (2010 and 2014) and Josef Newgarden (2019-2020) are the only entered drivers to win at St. Petersburg more than once. Six past winners are entered: Castroneves, Power, Newgarden, Graham Rahal (2008), Colton Herta (2021) and McLaughlin.
For the first time since 2015, Team Penske’s Will Power arrives at the season opener as the defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion. The two-time champion made history in 2022 as he became INDYCAR’s all-time qualifying king by winning his record-setting 68th pole in September at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, where he also clinched the title. He will look for more history by becoming the first to repeat champion since Dario Franchitti won three in a row from 2009-11.
Team Penske has won at St. Petersburg 11 times, including seven of the last 11 races with Castroneves (2012), Power (2014), Juan Pablo Montoya (2015-16), Newgarden (2019-2020) and McLaughlin (2022).
Four drivers have won the race from the pole – Castroneves (2007), Power (2010), Herta (2021) and McLaughlin (2022). The St. Petersburg winner has qualified fourth in four of the last 10 seasons.
Dixon is expected to make his 369th INDYCAR SERIES start, tying A.J. Foyt for fourth on the all-time list.
Dixon has made 305 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in INDYCAR SERIES history.
Simon Pagenaud is scheduled to make his 200th INDYCAR SERIES start.
Rookies Marcus Armstrong, Agustin Canapino, Benjamin Pedersen and Sting Ray Robb will make their NTT INDYCAR SERIES debuts at St. Petersburg.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ 100% Renewable Race Fuel will make its competition debut in St. Petersburg. Created by Shell, this new product consists of a blend of second-generation ethanol derived from sugarcane waste and other biofuels to create a fuel that is 100% comprised of feedstocks categorized as renewable under the applicable regulatory frameworks. The fuel will enable a 60% life cycle greenhouse gas emissions reduction compared to fossil-based gasoline.
As with all street courses on the 2023 schedule, the Firestone Firehawk alternate tire will be made with sustainable, domestically sourced guayule rubber. For the 2023 season, Firestone will supply more than 1,900 tires using a sidewall material made exclusively with rubber derived from the guayule woody desert shrub grown on the company’s own farm in Eloy, Arizona. The initiative builds on the 2022 competitive debut of guayule race tires at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville last August.
INDY NXT by Firestone Notes:
The 19-car field for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the largest INDY NXT by Firestone field at St. Petersburg since 2009.
The 2023 season features a deep and talented field with INDY NXT race winners such as Hunter McElrea, Danial Frost and Christian Rasmussen joining a promising rookie class that includes Jamie Chadwick (three-time W Series champ), Louis Foster (USF Pro 2000 champ), Jagger Jones (USF2000 Rookie of the Year) and rising stars Nolan Siegel (USF Pro 2000) and Josh Pierson (World Endurance Championship’s youngest winner). Other contenders include returning drivers Jacob Abel, Rasmus Lindh, Kyffin Simpson and Ernie Francis Jr.
Two teams with championship pedigree have rejoined the series for 2023. Two-time champions Juncos Hollinger Racing will field a pair of cars for rookies Reece Gold and Matteo Naninni. Cape Motorsports – which last fielded a team in the INDY NXT in 2010, will field cars for Enaam Ahmed and Jones.
A new qualifying format will place a premium on banking a quick lap around the 1.8-mile street circuit. Teams will have a single 15-minute session or eight minutes of green flag running, whichever comes first. If an entry does not set a time, their order will be based on entrant points. (At St. Pete, it will be based on 2022’s entrant points.) If a team doesn’t have previous year points, then their spot will be placed after those that do.
Since 2005, the driver who won at least one of the races at St. Petersburg has gone on to win the INDY NXT by Firestone title six times, the most recent being Kyle Kirkwood, who won the first race of the doubleheader in 2021.
INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, Feb. 24, 2023) – Another winter is about to give way to a thrilling launch of NTT INDYCAR SERIES and INDY NXT by Firestone seasons along the palm tree-lined streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, as the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Sunday, March 5 will see the most entries in each series in over a decade.
That’s only the beginning of the 2023 storylines:
For the second consecutive season, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will appear on NBC network television a record 15 times, including two days of qualifying for the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. The first seven races of 2023 will be featured on broadcast TV and six of the final seven leading to the climactic season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Once again, all INDYCAR SERIES races will be simulstreamed via Peacock. For the second consecutive year, Telemundo Deportes on Universo will provide Spanish-language coverage of the season-opening race, the Indianapolis 500 and the season finale.
In addition, fans will see a new side to INDYCAR with a first-of-its-kind broadcast series, “100 Days to Indy,” via the VICE Media Group and The CW Network. Cameras and crews already are capturing and chronicling the bold and brash storylines leading up to “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on Sunday, May 28. The premiere episode will air Thursday, April 27 on The CW Network.
“This is a year of unprecedented coverage of the stars of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “Between the front row seat that The CW Network will provide fans and the best seat in the house provided by NBC, there won’t be a storyline without a spotlight. We look forward to taking INDYCAR’s fierce and intense competition to a new and more youthful audience throughout 2023.”
A Sustainable Present and Future
This will be the most sustainable season in INDYCAR SERIES history, as the series and its teams continue to work to develop renewable technologies.
Among the highlights are the first use of Shell’s 100% Renewable Race Fuel and continued use of renewable diesel for all INDYCAR team transporters supporting the series. The use of the Firestone Firehawk alternate race tire with a green sidewall, made from guayule rubber, will expand to all street circuit races after its successful debut last August in the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee.
Finally, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will continue to prepare for a more sustainable future as development continues with Chevrolet and Honda for the 2024 engine package. Testing of the 2.2-liter turbocharged V-6 with hybrid technology will take place throughout 2023.
Records Meant To Be Broken
2022 was a record-breaking season, with two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Will Power becoming the sport’s all-time leader in pole positions (68). In addition, the Indianapolis 500 featured the fastest pole speed in history, fastest front row in history and fastest field in history. The most competitive open-wheel racing series on the planet was highlighted by the most on-track passes in seven seasons. The finish at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix – Scott Dixon edged Scott McLaughlin by .1067 of a second – was the closest on a street circuit in INDYCAR SERIES history.
More records are in sight in 2023. Six-time INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon looks to add his name to the Astor Challenge Cup for a record seventh time – tying the legendary A.J. Foyt. Helio Castroneves returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May for a second attempt at a record fifth “500” victory.
“2022 was another record-setting season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “Each offseason, in collaboration with our owners, teams and drivers, we evaluate all aspects of competition-related initiatives and believe our updates will make 2023 even more competitive. Our growing paddock is a testament to the energy and momentum, and we are excited to get the season started.”
Improved Safety, More Technological Choices
A number of adjustments are being made for the upcoming INDYCAR SERIES season with an eye on safety and technical performance.
From a safety perspective, 2023 will feature:
In partnership with Indiana University Health, a new INDYCAR Medical Unit providing an environment for consistent and accessible care during each INDYCAR event
Mandatory rain vanes to wick water from the aeroscreen in wet conditions
New safety-inspired rear attenuator and stronger rear-wheel tethers
New highly visible LED rain lights on the rear of the race cars
New and higher headrest protection
A new mandatory and more forgiving steering arm designed to take more punishment without breaking
For the first time in NTT INDYCAR SERIES history, alternate-compound tires will be used on an oval. The Sunday, Aug. 27 race at World Wide Technology Raceway will feature the Firestone Firehawk alternates. Teams will follow the same rules as road and street circuits, with mandatory use of a new set of the alternate tire compound during the race.
Also new for 2023 is the addition of EM Motorsports Telemetry to the EM Marshalling System, which debuted in 2022. The new telemetry system will give all race teams the ability to quickly receive reliable information and react with split-second decision making. It will also introduce more over-the-air features new to INDYCAR.
From an aerodynamic standpoint, the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES rulebook is allowing:
Optional short oval barge boards on road and street course events
At Texas Motor Speedway, the underwing sidewall has been made optional
On the IMS oval:
New optional underwing flap wicker
New mandatory stability wickers
The option of a new additional underwing inner bargeboard (also optional at other ovals)
Optional underwing road and street course strakes
Speedway infill wicker made optional (also at Texas Motor Speedway)
Additionally, a new pillar specification will allow 3 degrees more range for the adjustable rear wing on the IMS oval. It will increase the options for teams looking for additional or less downforce.
“At the Indy 500, drivers in the pack can run up to 10% more downforce than last year,” said Tino Belli, INDYCAR director of aerodynamic development. “With the increased rear wing range, teams can still try and trim out the rear wing for end of race speed – and go for the win – if they have worked their way up into the lead group.
“Overall, INDYCAR wants to give race teams more options going into 2023. The optional barge boards give them a crucial tool when they consider, strategically, what it will take to get to victory lane.”
Recently announced, single points will be awarded for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. The change comes after a review of the double points system, first used in 2014. Analysis showed full-time championship teams were overly penalized for poor performance in the “500.”
Popular “second groove” practice sessions on the ovals at Texas Motor Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway will continue in 2023. The additional practice, designed to help “rubber in” a higher racing line, will be available for all entries.
From an officiating standpoint, the first red flag during Segments One and Two of road and street course qualifying will stop the 10-minute clock. The clock will continue to run for the second and subsequent red flags during Segments One and Two. The Firestone Fast Six will continue to feature six minutes of guaranteed time.
Also new, to maximize time during the segments, the qualifying clock will not start until the first car during the session passes the alternate start-finish line on the racetrack.
Next Up: INDY NXT by Firestone
INDYCAR’s developmental series enters 2023 with a reimagined look. INDY NXT by Firestone is a more youthful and energetic pathway to North America’s premier open-wheel racing series. This season, 19 drivers from nine countries will pursue the 2023 championship and an increased $1.4 million purse.
The INDY NXT by Firestone champion will receive $850,000 to be applied to an oval test at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 Open Test and Rookie Orientation Program, an entry for the 2024 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and an entry for an additional 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES event. For the first time, the championship team will receive a prize of $35,000.
After an expansion of teams and car count in 2022, the 2023 season will feature the highest entry list for the developmental series since 2009.
“Incorporating this series with the rest of the INDYCAR paddock has increased the profile and excitement for the drivers and teams,” INDY NXT Director Levi Jones said. “Firestone’s enthusiastic return also is another important step in developing the new generation of racers and growing the series to new levels.”
All 14 INDY NXT races again will be available in the United States via Peacock with coverage on INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR’s direct-to-consumer streaming service, in those countries not covered by international agreements.
Other developments to watch during the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, include the return of the hugely popular PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge. The first entry to win on all three types of circuits – road course, street circuit and oval – will split $1 million with the race team and the driver’s chosen charity. In 2022, two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden claimed the grand prize with wins at Texas, Long Beach and Road America.
PeopleReady is continuing to offer an additional $10,000 to the winner of every race this season, also to be split with the driver’s favorite charitable organization.
INDYCAR’s season begins March 3-5 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. Coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season debut, Sunday, March 5 will be available at noon ET on NBC with a simulstream available on Peacock.
Peacock also will provide coverage of the INDY NXT season opener that same day beginning at 9:50 a.m. ET. The INDYCAR Radio Network will provide coverage of both races, with audio available on the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.
Advance Auto Parts Named Official Sponsor of Checkered Flag for NTT INDYCAR SERIES Advance Also Becomes Official Automotive Aftermarket Retail Partner of INDYCAR, IMS
INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023) – Advance Auto Parts (NYSE: AAP), a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider, today announced a multiyear agreement to become the official sponsor of INDYCAR’s checkered flag used at each NTT INDYCAR SERIES race through the 2025 season.
The partnership connects Advance’s distinctive logo, which features the checkered flag icon, with the iconic flag NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers aspire to see first at the end of each race. Through the agreement, Advance also becomes the official automotive aftermarket retail partner of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Advance’s marks will be displayed on the iconic IMS Scoring Pylon and other digital boards throughout the “Racing Capital of the World” for its signature events, including the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in May and the Brickyard Weekend tripleheader in August.
“We’re honored to welcome Advance Auto Parts to both the INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway families,” said Mark Miles, president & CEO Penske Entertainment Corp. “Advance is a world-class and highly respected brand, and the perfect partner emblem to display on the checkered flag welcoming our NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers to the finish-line at the iconic Yard of Bricks and across all of our events.”
Advance’s partnership with INDYCAR will include a charitable component during the 2023 season. As race-winning drivers strategically use “advance” as a verb in their post-race interviews, Advance will gift winning drivers a cash prize to be donated to a charity of their choice.
“It’s a privilege to associate the Advance brand and our checkered flag with those used at the Indianapolis 500 and every INDYCAR race,” said Jason McDonell, Advance’s executive vice president of merchandising, marketing and eCommerce. “We know INDYCAR fans are incredibly passionate about the sport, its heritage and future. Whether they’re road-tripping to the next race or tackling their everyday commute, race fans know we’ll be ready with quality auto parts and expert advice to help them advance to their own checkered flag.” Advance and INDYCAR also will team up on a unique content series viewable on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Leading into each race weekend, INDYCAR will create a video highlight reel celebrating the most exciting wins and checkered flag moments at that track, giving race fans an opportunity to witness some of auto racing’s most historic wins though archived footage.
The 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season starts with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Sunday, March 5 (Noon ET on NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network).
VIEWERS, START YOUR ENGINES! THE CW NETWORK SETS MOTORSPORTS DOCUMENTARY SERIES “100 DAYS TO INDY” PREMIERE FOR THURSDAY, APRIL 27
Unscripted Series from VICE Media Group, Penske Entertainment & NTT INDYCAR SERIES to Chronicle Road to the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race
February 17, 2023 (Burbank, CA) — Let the countdown begin. Today, on the 100th day until the start of the world’s premier motorsports competition, the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, The CW Network is announcing its new documentary series 100 DAYS TO INDY will premiere on Thursday, April 27 (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT). Produced by Penske Entertainment and VICE Media Group, the six-part series will take fans behind the scenes to chronicle the bold and brash personalities of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as they begin the 2023 season and start their quest for racing’s greatest prize.
“As we hit the 100 day milestone until the Indianapolis 500, the production team behind 100 DAYS TO INDY has been working tirelessly to capture the powerful stories of these incredible drivers as they compete at death-defying speeds to be the best of the best,” said Brad Schwartz, President of Entertainment, The CW Network.
From the balmy high-speed turns of St. Petersburg, Florida, to the demanding banked oval in Fort Worth and the sun-swept streets of Long Beach, California, every mile is an epic moment as 100 DAYS TO INDY takes viewers into the drivers’ seat for unprecedented access to top NTT INDYCAR SERIES stars as they compete for racing’s greatest prize: the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Of the 33 drivers racing for a coveted spot on the Borg-Warner Trophy, Helio Castroneves is eyeing his record fifth win while last year’s champion, Marcus Ericsson, is hoping to repeat. But they face fierce opposition from legendary Team Penske, led by two-time series champion Josef Newgarden, and rising stars from other rival teams like Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta and Christian Lundgaard. 100 DAYS TO INDY will showcase all the intense preparation, relentless competition, a few pranks and plenty of speed before the green flag drops and 300,000 fans roar at the world’s largest single-day sporting event.
Produced by multiple-award winning VICE World News, 100 DAYS TO INDY is directed and co-executive produced by Emmy® Award-winner Patrick Dimon and executive produced by Bryan Terry for VICE. Adam Marinelli serves as showrunner and co-executive producer, and Falguni Lakhani Adams is executive producer for VICE TV. 100 DAYS TO INDY is distributed globally by Vice Content Distribution.