2023 INDIANAPOLIS 500: Open Test Preview

By: Spencer Neff
April 20,2023

Preparations for the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented By Gainrbidge will ramp up over the next two days. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will hold their yearly open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday and Friday. Per INDYCAR, the schedule is as follows: Veterans will take to the oval from 10 a.m.-noon Thursday, Eligible participants include any driver who participated in an oval race proceeding last year’s Indianapolis 500.

The Rookie Orientation Program and refresher tests from noon-2 p.m. For the three rookie drivers in this year’s field (Agustin Canapino, Sting Ray Robb and Benjamin Pedersen), they will be required to run 10 laps at 205-210 miles per hour, 15 laps at 210-215 and 215+ each. Veteran drivers (Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Stefan Wilson and Katherine Legge) will only be required to run 15 laps each at 210-215 and 215+ mph.

All eligible participants will be permitted on track from 2-6:30 p.m. Friday’s testing is open to all drivers eligible for participation.

Before cars are on track, here’s a look at some headlines to keep tabs on.

Chevrolet vs. Honda

Since Lotus departed following their ill-fated 2012 return, the Chevrolet and Honda dynamic that is the engine rivalry for INDYCAR has been a major headline. At the Indianapolis 500, it is even more intense.

Since General Motors’ flagship brand rejoined the series as an OEM (Original Engine Manufacturer), they have won the race four times and the pole six times. Since the beginning of the decade, Honda has been the dominant power unit for the 2.5-mile oval. Their teams have won all 3 races and poles, sweeping the front row in qualifying and Top 5 in the race in 2020.

Christian Lundgaard’s RLLR Honda leads Josef Newgarden’s Penske Chevrolet during last year’s test (James Black/INDYCAR)

Outside of IMS, Chevrolet’s dominance has been apparent on the ovals. Excluding the “500”, the last seven times IndyCar has run on an oval, Chevrolet has won and earned pole in five of those seven races (Texas Qualifying was rained out in 2021).

The law of averages would suggest the advantage has to swing back to the Bowtie Brigade soon, whether their premiere teams like Penske, Arrow McLaren and Ed Carpenter Racing can lead a resurgence at the front of the grid remains to be seen. The on-track time during the next two days could provide some early hints.

Scott Dixon’s record-breaking career

As his career goes on, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon continues to rewrite the history books, particularly at the Indianapolis 500. Last year was more of the same. After becoming the 11th driver to win consecutive pole positions for the race with the second-fastest qualifying speed ever (234.046), the Australia-born New Zealander led 95 laps, passing Ralph DePalma and Al Unser for sole possession of most laps led in the race’s 106 runnings of the race (665).

Although he led the most laps (95) for a sixth time, the 2008 race winner’s chance at a second win evaporated due to a pit road speeding penalty. He would finish 21st. Dixon’s pursuit of history will continue in qualifying, as he looks to tie Rick Mears’ record with a sixth pole and become the first three-peat pole sitter.

Dixon has led in 15 of his 20 starts (Chris Owens/INDYCAR)

Dixon’s performance this week could be a good barometer for his teammates. Last year, the five-car Chip Ganassi Racing team all qualified in the Top 12 and led a combined 166 of 200 laps. Dixon’s teammate Marcus Ericsson took the team’s first “500” in a decade.

Dixon, Ericsson and Alex Palou return from the 2022 lineup. For the ovals, they are joined by two-time race winner Takuma Sato. Whether the new veteran presence can provide a repeat of 2022 will begin to be answered tomorrow.


Only five of the 33 drivers partaking in the Open Test have yet to run an NTT INDYCAR SERIES event this season.

Representing the “one-off” or Indy-only entries include 2013 winner Tony Kanaan, running his final career race with Arrow McLaren. In addition, 2014 race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay returning for the race with Dreyer and Reinbold alongside Stefan Wilson.

Andretti has been an Indy-only driver since 2021.(Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)

2020 pole winner Marco Andretti returns to Andretti Autosport and Katherine Legge ends a decade-long absence in a fourth Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry. Those five have a combined 59 “500” starts, two poles and two race victories.

Although RC Enerson and the No. 50 Abel Motorsports Chevrolet is on the entry list, the team will not take part in this week’s test. They are expected to be ready for Opening Day of practice on May 16.

With 34 entries vying for a spot in the traditional 33-car grid, one entry will not qualify. Thursday and Friday will be pivotal as teams look ahead to qualifying and making sure they avoid the Last Row Shootout and qualify in one of the top 30 spots.

Header Image By Walt Kuhn/INDYCAR


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