2023 INDYCAR Preview: Arrow McLaren

By: Spencer Neff
February 15, 2023

Returning to INDYCAR after a 40-year absence, McLaren joined forces with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. In the following three seasons, the team has earned seven poles and four victories.

During the 2022-23 offseason, Arrow McLaren SP became Arrow McLaren IndyCar. While Sam Schmidt and Rick Peterson keep their involvement, the program has undergone major changes.

After operating as a three-car team on a limited basis, Arrow McLaren has expanded to include a third entry on a full-time basis.

With Pato O’Ward signed through 2025 and Felix Rosenqvist staying with the program for 2023, 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi joined the outfit. Entering his eighth season, the eight-time race winner spent the first seven years of his career with Andretti Autosport.

O”Ward and Arrow McLaren celebrate after winning the HyVee Salute to Farmers 300 at Iowa Speedway (Joe SKibinski/INDYCAR)

The offseason changes did not end there. In October, the team announced that 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan would join O’Ward, Rosenqvist and Rossi for the May 28 event.

Previously, 2000 and 2015 winner Juan Pablo Montoya contested the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the team.

This morning, Kanaan announced that it will be his final race

Pato O’Ward

After winning the 2018 Indy Lights (now INDY NXT By Firestone) Championship, O’Ward contested a part-time schedule with Carlin Racing. By season’s end, O’Ward would sign with Arrow McLaren.

In his first three full-time seasons, O’Ward has finished fourth, third and seventh, with two wins in each of the last two seasons. During his sophomore campaign, O”Ward briefly held the points lead late in the season.

In 2022, he earned wins at Barber Motorsports Park and Iowa Speedway Race 2. The Monterey, Mexico native also finished second at the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, his best result in three outings.

After starting 2021 with a pole position at the track, O’Ward earned his third career victory at Barber Motorsports Park in 2022 (Chris Jones/INDYCAR)

O’Ward’s recent success have many pegging him as one of the favorites for the “500” and a perennial contender. If Arrow McLaren’s offseason moves work out, O’Ward could have the most to gain.

Felix Rosenqvist

In 2021, Felix Rosenqvist joined Arrow McLaren after contesting the first two seasons of his career with Chip Ganassi Racing. The 2020 Road America Race 2 winner has not returned to Victory Lane since.

During his second campaign with Arrow McLaren, he did earn two pole positions (Texas and IMS Road Course 2). Earning his first podium finish since his maiden win, the driver of the No. 7 earned a third-place on the street course in Toronto.

Rosenqvist earned his second pole of 2022 and the second of his career on the IMS Road Course at the Gallagher Grand Prix (Chris Owens/INDYCAR)

For 2023, the Varmao, Sweden-born racer will move to the No. 6 entry. Rosenqvist turned in a relatively quiet but consistent performance over the 2022 season. Now, he will look to return to the top step of the podium as an INDYCAR race winner.

Alexander Rossi

Ending streaks that had lasted over three seasons, Alexander Rossi showed no signs of distraction after his departure from Andretti Autosport was confirmed. In June, he earned the seventh pole of his career at Road America. In July, he notched his eighth career win at the second IMS Road Course event.

Now, Rossi will pilot the No. 7 entry and will be joined in the move by his 2022 strategist Brian Barnhart. Barnhart takes over as Team general Manager following Taylor Kiel’s departure.

Rossi at The Thermal Club during the Open test on February 3 (James Black/INDYCAR)

Rossi’s arrival will bring more than 40 new employees with him in Arrow McLaren’s expanded program.

How their new driver and a revamped team mesh together will be an imperative part of their 2023 success. If things go well, a return to Rossi’s 2018-2019 form is within reach.

Tony Kanaan

After contesting the 2021 oval slate and the 2022 Indianapolis 500 presented By Gainbridge with Chip Ganassi Racing, Kanaan moves to Arrow McLaren in a fourth entry for this year’s race.

Kanaan and Rossi’s arrival gives Arrow McLaren the drivers who finished second, third, fourth and fifth in the 106th Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan will contest his 22nd Indianapolis 500 this May (Chris Owens/INDYCAR)

For 2024, Arrow McLaren has announced 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Larson will compete at the Indianapolis 500 with the organization.

Kanaan and McLaren have proven to be contenders at Indianapolis. This pairing of driver and team could give the popular Brazilian his second “500” victory, a decade after his first.

Header Image By Chris Jones/INDYCAR


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