Race Preview: Indianapolis 500



Posted on 05/15/2023

Race Preview: Indianapolis 500

As INDYCAR turns the page toward the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500, Chip Ganassi Racing is eager to defend their win and capture the team’s sixth all-time victory in the historic race.

CGR dominated throughout the Month of May last year and capitalized with a triumphant performance on race day. All five drivers led a lap in last year’s race, combining as the frontrunners for 163 of the available 200 laps (82%). That’s the most combined laps led by a team since CGR themselves led 172 laps in 2000 (Montoya: 167; Vasser: 5).

“All five drivers supported by the 160-plus at Chip Ganassi Racing contributed to Marcus’ win,” Managing Director Mike Hull said after Marcus Ericsson’s win this past May. “This is a globally significant event, so how he won, represents our ethic of unselfish teamwork.”

The team enters the Greatest Spectacle in Racing with another powerhouse of talent with three of their four drivers (Dixon; Ericsson; Sato) boasting Indianapolis 500 race wins under their belt along with Alex Palou, who finished as the runner-up in 2021 and just notched a win at the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday.

Ganassi’s four-car operation will look to take the victory home again with Honda power, which would mark the fourth consecutive win in the race for the manufacturer.

NBC and Peacock will carry coverage throughout the Month of May, with the race culminating on the network on Sunday, May 28, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Marcus Ericsson - No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda

"The Month of May is here and I can't wait for everything honestly. It's going to be amazing and I'm looking forward to be here competing as the defending champion. It's an exciting month ahead. Let's do it."

The Kumla, Sweden, native returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he captured victory last year to bring home the team’s fifth all-time victory in the historic race. He did so in impressive fashion, staving off the competition in a two-lap shootout.

With another victory in the race, he would become the first driver to win consecutive Indianapolis 500’s since 2002.

Ericsson has improved on ovals each year he’s been with the team, thanks to hard work alongside his No. 8 team, learnings from Dario Franchitti and putting in hours of studying on-board footage of Scott Dixon. He posted an average finish of 5.0 (2nd-best among field) on ovals last season after averaging a 12.8 finishing position in 2021 and 16.2 in 2020. 

Alex Palou - No. 10 American Legion Honda

"I'm feeling pretty good for the Indianapolis 500. We've been really fast the past two years. I think we just need to try to get the strategy right, get more confident in traffic and just get a clean day. We have the championship lead, which feels amazing, and we need to keep it and go for the Indianapolis 500, as well."

“Redemption” is the keyword Palou references when discussing his mindset for this year’s Indianapolis 500. Palou was running up front and unfortunately fell from P1 to P30 on a lap 77 restart due to a yellow flag coming out just as he entered the pits. He was forced to then serve a drive-through penalty for stopping when pits were closed, but still fought his way back through the field and earned a top-10 finish.

Palou has performed quite well on ovals since joining CGR in 2021, boasting the 3rd-highest average finishing position (8.0) of any driver on such tracks, while leading laps in half of those races (5-of-10).

He has qualified among the front two rows in each of his Indianapolis 500 starts with CGR, going on to lead laps in both races (2022: led 47 laps before P9 finish; 2021: led 35 laps before P2 finish). 

Scott Dixon - No. 9 PNC Bank Honda 

"Really looking forward to the 500, as always with the Month of May. We're going to try and go out to get some redemption from last year. I hope that our cars are as fast as they always are with Ganassi here for the 500. I'm going to try and enjoy it as much as possible and get after this race and see what lies ahead."

Dixon made history this past year by becoming the all-time lap leader (665) in Indianapolis 500 history. He also set a pole record with a four-lap average of 234.046 mph, seizing pole position for the second consecutive year. Dixon will look to become the first driver to ever take the pole in three consecutive races. A pole win would also tie Rick Mears (6) for the most in race history.

Dixon embarks on his 21st career start in the Indianapolis 500 in search of his second career victory (2008). 

Takuma Sato - No. 11 Deloitte Honda

"I'm extremely excited to finally unveil the No. 11 Deloitte-sponsored Indianapolis 500 car for Chip Ganassi Racing. I am so grateful to Deloitte for continuously supporting our program as a technical partner and the title sponsor. Our goal is very clear and the team's preparation for May is just simply impressive. I am looking forward to being back in the car, working with the engineers, crews and my teammates for practice sessions starting tomorrow."

The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner will suit up for his 14th start in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing – but his first with Chip Ganassi Racing. 

Sato has claimed two wins (2020; 2017) and three podiums (P3 in 2019) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while leading laps in five of those 13 career starts.

He will look to become the 11th driver to produce three wins in the 500, and the first to do so since Dario Franchitti in 2012.