By: Spencer Neff
March 3, 2023

Nearly six months of waiting have come to an end. On Friday, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES begins its first of 17 rounds with opening practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Ahead of the new season, here’s a look at predictions for all 17 rounds of the championship. There will also picks for Series Champion and Rookie of the Year.

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Will Power became the model of consistency on his way to a second championship in 2022.

The Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia native started off his year by qualifying second and finishing third on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course in Florida.

Power’s 2022 Championship season began with a front-row start and podium finish (Chris Owens/INDYCAR)

After setting a track record in the second round of qualifying, he narrowly missed record-extending 11th pole (credited with nine; 2016-concussion forced him out of the race) and started second to Penske teammate and eventual winner Scott McLaughlin.

For 2023, Power will start off his championship defense with a dominant street course performance and be the first defending series champion to win the season opener since 2011 (Dario Franchitti-2011).

Texas: PPG 375

Texas Motor Speedway has been one of INDYCAR’s most daunting tracks. For Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, he adapted to the fast-paced 1.5-mile oval as well as anyone.In three previous starts, the Kiwi has two second-place finishes and an eighth-place finish.

Last year, he started second and led a race-high 186 laps but was edged out by teammate Josef Newgarden for the win. This year, McLaughlin gets redemption and his first career oval win.

McLaughlin was .066 of a second back of his teammate in his bid for a first oval win (Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)

Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

In his first appearance on the 1.968-mile,11-turn temporary street circuit in California, Alex Palou started 10th and finished fourth, clinching the 2021 Championship. Last year, Palou led 22 laps after starting third, ultimately finishing there at the conclusion of the 85-lap race.

Palou’s four wins have all been on natural terrain road courses but he has earned four podium finishes in 11 career INDYCAR races on temporary courses.

In what is expected to be his last season with Chip Ganassi Racing, the No. 10 goes to Victory Lane following the 85-lap race.

Barber Motorsports Park: Children’s of Alabama Grand Prix

In eight of his first 11 starts at his “home track”, Hendersonville, Tennessee’s Josef Newgarden has posted a Top 10 finish. The three-time winner on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course in Birmingham, Alabama has not finished better than 14th in the last two races.

Newgarden won at Barber Motorsports Park in 2015,2017 and 2018 (Matt Fraver/INDYCAR)

For 2023, he gets back to Victory Lane for his first win of the season

IMS Road Course Race 1: GMR Grand Prix

Over his first eight starts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Road Course, Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward has a best finish of fifth (twice).

In each of his last three races, the Monterey, Mexico native has started in the Top Five, leading in two races for 21 laps at the 2.439-mile, 14-turn circuit.

This year, it’s career win 5 for the driver of the No. 5.

O’Ward prior to last year’s GMR Grand Prix (Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)

107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge

Despite not leading for the first time, Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist earned his first career Top Five at the Indianapolis 500 in 2022 with a fourth-place finish.

The Swede may be flying under the radar with Arrow McLaren bringing on former winners Alexander Rossi and Tony Kanaan. Last year, fellow swede Marcus Ericsson won for another star-studded lineup at Chip Ganassi Racing.

Rosenqvist goes from the No. 7 to No. 6 for 2023 (Chris Jones/INDYCAR)

Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix

Since arriving in the U.S. following his Formula 1 career, Marcus Ericsson’s strong point has been temporary street circuits and Belle Isle particularly. In 2019, he got his first INDYCAR podium at the venue and won his first race there two years later. Ericsson also won the series’ last street course debut at Nashville later in 2021.

With the series returning to downtown Detroit (CART previously raced there in 1989-1991) after 31 races between 1992-2022, Ericsson makes it two in a row on the new tracks, this time, the CGR driver takes his No. 8 to Victory Lane on the 1.7-mile, 10-turn course.

Ericsson on the Raceway at Belle Isle during the 2022 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix weekend (Karl Zemlin/INDYCAR)

Road America Sonsio Grand Prix

Josef Newgarden has won three of the last sixpoles and two races in that span at Road America. If not for mechanical issues on a late restart, it easily could be three victories.

This year, Newgarden becomes the fourth driver to win consecutive races on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Newgarden celebrates following his 2022 Road America win (Chris Jones/INDYCAR)

Mid-Ohio: Honda Indy 200

Few drivers have been as dominant at one track as Scott Dixon has at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 9 has earned six victories in his career at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Lexington, Ohio road course.

With his first win of 2023, Dixon adds to his records for most overall and consecutive years with a victory (22 and 19, respectively).

Dixon at Mid-Ohio in 2022 (Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)

Honda Indy Toronto

Street circuits have produced some of Will Power’s most dominant performances throughout his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career.

Despite three wins at Exhibiton Place, Power has not won on the 1.786-mile, 11-turn street course since 2016, with his last of two poles there a year prior.

Look for the two-time series champion to regain his form and head back to the top step of the podium.

Power rounds Turn 1 and passes the iconic “Princes’ Gates” at Exhibition Place (Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)

Iowa Speedway: Hy-veedeals.com 250 and Hy-vee Salute to Farmers 300

Iowa Speedway has been Penske territory as of late, as the organization has earned five victories in the last eight races there.

Driver Josef Newgarden, who has four victories in his last eight starts on the .894-mile oval in Newton, Iowa, dominated both races last year winning the first and leading in the second race before a crash ended his day. Newgarden is the easy pick for at least one victory that weekend.

McLaughlin and Newgarden mingle with fans during a weekend autograph session at Iowa Speedway (Chris Jones/INDYCAR)

There has not been a sweep of an oval doubleheader weekend since Rick Mears’ 1981 Atlanta Motor Speedway sweep.

Although Penske’s dominance continues, it is Scot McLaughlin who caps off the weekend in Victory Lane.

McLaughlin finished third in Race 2 to rebound from a disappointing 22nd in Race 1 last year.

Big Machine Music City Grand Prix

The first two runnings of the street race in Tennessee’s capital city have featured no shortage of chaos and carnage.

In both races, Chip Ganassi Racing drivers have worked their way from 18th on the grid to win.

Last year, McLaughlin was edged out by Scott Dixon in a New Zealand 1-2 that produced the closest street course finish in history.

McLaughlin started on pole in 2022 at Nashville (Chris Owens/INDYCAR)

In his third trip to the 2.1-mile, 11-turn temporary circuit, he and the “Thirsty 3s” make it three wins in 2023 at Nashville.

IMS Road Course 2: Gallagher Grand Prix

In the race’s first two runnings since being added to the NASCAR weekend, drivers have snapped lengthy winless streaks to win at the Brickyard.

This year, Colton Herta continues the trend, earning his second win on the road course and first win of 2023.

Herta during the 2022 Gallagher Grand Prix (Travis Hinkle/INDYCAR)

World Wide Technology Raceway: Bommarito Automotive Group 500

Just like at Iowa, WWTR Gateway in Madison, Illinois has been dominated by Josef Newgarden and Team Penske. Since its return to the calendar in 2017, the No.2 team has earned four victories in seven races, three more than any other driver on the 1.25-mile oval.

Capping off the oval portion of 2023, he makes it a fifth win.

Newgarden after his series-leading fifth win of 2022 (Chris Jones/INDYCAR)

Grand Prix of Portland

Although Scott Dixon has yet to win at Portland International Raceway, he’s earned five Top 10 finishes in six previous starts, including third-place finishes in the last two events. With the season winding down, he earns victory 55 on the 1.964-mile, 12-turn Oregon road course.

Dixon at last year’s Grand Prix of Portland (James Black/INDYCAR)

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

Closing out the season on a two-race “West Coast Swing”, Dixon checks another track off in his 56th victory. In his five previous starts, Dixon has four Top 10s on the 2.258-mile, 11-turn circuit in Salinas, California.

Following teammate Alex Palou’s dominant 2022 win, CGR makes it two in a row and a fourth win at the famed road course.

Dixon rounds “The Corkscrew” (Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)


A pattern has developed since his first championship in 2003. Four of Dixon’s six career INDYCAR titles have been separated by five years apiece. This year, he makes it a fifth and ties A.J. Foyt with a record seventh crown.

Top 10 Predictions:

Dixon celebrating the latest of his six championships in 2020 at St. Petersburg (James Black/INDYCAR)
  1. Scott Dixon
  2. Josef Newgarden
  3. Scott McLaughlin
  4. Will Power
  5. Alex Palou
  6. Marcus Ericsson
  7. Pato O’Ward
  8. Colton Herta
  9. Felix Rosenqvist
  10. Kyle Kirkwood

Rookie of the Year

Armstrong getting set for a recent test at Sebring International Raceway (Chris Owens/INDYCAR)

Although he is foregoing the oval slate for 2023, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Armstrong has been fastest among this year’s four rookie drivers. While the New Zealander will have five fewer races than his competitors in which to accumulate points,

Armstrong’s performance makes up the gap and he takes the No. 11 to CGR’s first Rookie of the Year win since Juan Pablo Montoya’s 1999 Championship debut in the CART Fedex Championship Series.

Header Image By Chris Owens/INDYCAR


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