The 2023 IndyCar Series begins on Saturday. And just like its European counterpart (IndyCar), there are a lot of new changes, particularly with the drivers – four of which are notable rookies. Alex Palou, after all the hullabaloo, also returns with Chip Ganassi Racing. But that hasn’t stopped Arrow McLaren from making more moves as they look to deliver on the IndyCar odds.
The Deal with Arrow McLaren
McLaren was this close to swiping Palou from the hands of Chip Ganassi. Alas, the Spaniard will stay with his current team after being threatened with a lawsuit last summer. Palau, the 2021 IndyCar Series champion, has one year left on his deal and will race it out on the team with which he won his first and only title.
IT’S RACE WEEK! 😎
— Alex Palou Montalbo (@AlexPalou) February 27, 2023
Felix Rosenqvist, who Palou was supposed to replace, returns with McLaren. Rosenqvist will rejoin Pato O’Ward and two new teammates in former champion Tony Kanaan and Alexander Rossi. Both are new signings with Rossi leaving Andretti Autosport, with whom he spent seven years.
Rossi, at +2500 on the sportsbook, remains a long shot to win his first IndyCar title despite the switch. The former F1 driver has eight wins and 28 podiums under the IndyCar banner. He came close to winning in 2018 when he finished in second place behind Scott Dixon.
A.J. Foyt, Other Teams Making Moves
Taking Rossi’s spot with Andretti Autosport is 2021 Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood. He comes over from A.J. Foyt Racing and will drive the No. 27 entry. Only in his second year, Kirkwood’s outright odds are not much worse than Rossi’s at 33-1. His spot will then be taken by a rookie, Benjamin Pedersen. The Danish-American finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights.
Pedersen will be joined by Santino Ferrucci, who will drive the No. 14 entry. He first made his debut with IndyCar back in 2018. He was primarily a reserve driver in 2022 and returns full time.
Another returning driver will be Katherine Legge for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The Briton returns to IndyCar for the first time in over a decade and will drive the No. 44 entry. Her compatriot, Stefan Wilson, also joins Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. The team also formed a partnership with Cusick Motorsports over the offseason.
The New Guys: Rookies Face Insurmountable Odds
Pedersen will be one of four new drivers eligible to win the Rookie of the Year award. He also has the best odds when betting online, though that does not say a lot. Marcus Armstrong is another high-profile rookie as he will join Chip Ganassi Racing.
Armstrong will race the road and street course tracks in the No. 11 entry while Takuma Sato, who leaves Dale Coyne Racing after one season, will drive the oval courses. The 22-year-old Kiwi, a product of the Ferrari Driver Academy since 2017, even won the Italian F4 Championship. He’s also had a podium finish with F3 and last raced in F2.
The 2020 Indy Pro 2000 champion, Sting Ray Robb, joins Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing. He finished as the runner-up for the 2022 Indy Lights and will replace Sato to drive the No. 51 entry.
Finally, Agustin Canapino will join Juncos Hollinger Racing as part of the team’s expansion to two entries. He will join Callum Ilott and race the No. 78 entry.
Last season was one of the most competitive so expect plenty of shakeups given all the changes. Christian Lundgaard finished in 14th place last season to win the Rookie of the Year. He came close to winning a race by finishing second at the Gallagher Grand Prix. Pedersen could be that guy this season as he looks to move A.J. Foyt up from the bottom of the standings.