By: Spencer Neff
February 24, 2023
Continuing our look at the drivers and teams of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, we’ll take a look at the four drivers that make up this year’s rookie class. This series will be done in order of the driver’s car number.
First, we’ll look at Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Armstrong. After impressing many in the motorsports world, the Kiwi joins the No. 11 for the road and street courses. Although the Christchurch, New Zealand native will not be contesting the full season like his three peers, he’s already making an impact.
Like many of the drivers throughout open-wheel racing around the world, Armstrong’s story begins on the go-kart circuit. In 2010, he began his career on the karting circuit. A year later, he would earn a victory in the Kartsport NZ National Sprint Championship.
Armstrong would add seven class victories as well as a third-place finish in 2013 Shifter Kart USA Super Nationals.
By 2015, he would move on to the global karting stage. He would finish 12th in the KF2 Category of the Karting World Championship.
During his first of two seasons with Tony Karting, Armstrong earned a second-place finish at the South Garda Winter Cup.
For 2017, he would begin his single-seater racing career, moving to the Italian Formula 4 with Prima Powerteam. Not only did Armstrong’s five wins, 13 podium finishes and six pole positions earn him the series championship, he also collected the Vice Championship in Germany’s F4 Series.
On top of those victories, he was named to the prestigious Ferrari Drivers Academy. Moving back to his native New Zealand to compete in the 2018 Toyota Racing Series with M2 Motorsport. During his first two years in the series (both with M2), Armstrong earned five victories and three pole positions, finishing second and third in points.
Returning to Europe, he notched a win and three pole positions en route to a fifth-place effort in the Formula 3 Series championship. At the end of the year, he would finish eighth in the prestigious Macau Grand Prix.
In 2019, he would earn five race victories and two poles in his final season of Toyota Racing Series Competition. Armstrong would finish the year second in points, 10 behind series champion Liam Lawson. In Formula 3, he earned a second-place finish on the strength of two sprint race wins (Hungaroring and Spa-Francorchamps)
Formula 1 Dreams
Like many drivers around the world, Armstrong’s ultimate pursuit would be a Formula 1 ride. In 2020, he would move one step closer to that goal. Driving for ART Grand Prix in GP2, the highest feeder series on the ladder to F1, Armstrong earned a podium finish in each of his first two race weekends. By year’s end, he would be 13th in the standings.
Armstrong moved to DAMS for 2021 and in April, earned an F1 test with Ferrari at the Italian manufacturer. At the series’ inaugural visit to the Jeddah Street Circuit in Saudi Arabia, he earned his first career victory in the weekend’s sprint race.
Armstrong earned an additional podium earlier in the year at the Silverstone Circuit in England, where he finished second and equaled his points finish from 2020.
2022 would see him venture to Hitech Grand Prix after opting to leave the Ferrari Driver Academy. During the F2 season, he earned three victories, all of which were during sprint races. Those victories occurred at Imola, Speilberg’s Red Bull Ring and Zandvoort. As in his first two seasons, Armstrong finished 13th in points.
Following a path taking by many international drivers, Armstrong’s success garnered the attention of INDYCAR ownership. During the offseason, he first tested with Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring International Raceway.
Following his October test with DCR, Armstrong was announced as the road and street course driver for the No. 11 Chip Ganassi Racing entry. Armstrong has expressed interest in participating on the ovals but those will be run by Takuma Sato in the No. 11 for 2023.
“I’m ecstatic to be a part of the INDYCAR SERIES, but especially with Chip Ganassi Racing because it is such an iconic and successful team. I have an extraordinary opportunity in front of me to learn from people that have been performing at the absolute highest level in this sport,” said Armstrong in the December 2 announcement of his INDYCAR arrival. He the first rookie at CGR since Max Chilton in 2016, the longest any current team has gone without a rookie driver.
Armstrong, who hails from the same city as 2021 Rookie of the Year Scott McLaughlin will join a team featuring six-time champion and fellow New Zealander Scott Dixon, something not lost on the rookie.
“As a Kiwi, I’ve always watched Scott Dixon succeed in the championship with this team, so on a personal level this is quite special for me. I am a hard worker that looks to improve every single day. With the knowledge and personnel that this team has, I’m very excited to take on this new challenge.”
As a 22-year-old, what is in common to others who have climbed into INDYCAR with CGR is that at that age he already knows how to win,” said Mike Hull, Managing Director of CGR. “That’s been repeatedly proven at the highest global level. Besides talent, the intangible that he brings creates measurement through opportunity. Bring on 2023!”
In preseasons testing at the Thermal Club, Armstrong was the fastest rookie in all four on-track sessions during the two days in California. This weekend, he embarks on his first INDYCAR race at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the Florida streets.
Header Image By Chris Jones/INDYCAR