Good morning from a cold and wet downtown Indianapolis for the NTT INDYCAR Series Media days with the 2024 drivers. The season’s official start is 58 days away and is being held in St Petersburg, Florida.
Josef Newgarden started the morning in his crisp new driver’s suit. The reigning Indy 500 champion is excited to get back to racing even though the off-season has not just been time off for him. His Team Penske group is always planning for the coming season.
The winningest American driver in the series, Newgarden is looking forward to the challenge this season with the addition of the double Milwaukee Mile races and the World Wide Technology race under the lights in Madison, Illinois. The American is excited to run the million-dollar challenge at the Thermal Club in Palm Springs despite the timing for an exhibition race after the season starts.
Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon is entering his 24th season, with 23 of those seasons with CGR. With five cars on the roster for this season, the tenured driver was asked how he thought the team would operate.
“I think with different programs and maybe the size of the team maybe not changing so much and having kind of the depth there really helps. But you’re still adding a lot
of moving parts to an already pretty big team.”
“Hopefully we can jump in and dive in, and it’s going to be no missteps. That’s obviously the biggest and best goal that we can have. But we’ll see how that plays out.”
“Five cars is a lot of people and moving parts. Yeah, it’ll be interesting.”
The New Zealander is looking forward to IndyCar returning to Milwaukee this Labor Day weekend. ” Excited to go back to Milwaukee. I don’t think I’m super excited about a double-header on another short track. But that’s the way it is.”
“I’m excited to see how the partnerships work. I love the circuit. I love the track. I love how difficult it is. There’s so many positives. I just hope it’s a great execution, although having two races could make for a difficult weekend. ”
Dixon was asked about the forthcoming Hybrid engine, that he has done testing with in the off season. “I think the process has been to make it as reliable as possible or to make it roll out in a smooth way.”
“At the moment in testing when it fails, you have to stop the car immediately. I don’t know if that’s going to be true when you get to — say you’re leading a race by 20 seconds and you’ve got three laps to go, I don’t think any driver of a team is going to stop the car. Whatever happens in that case. There’s a lot of unknowns — well at least for me it’s
unknown. I’m sure other people know about it.”
New IndyCar Roles for Helio Castroneves Don’t Include Much Racing
Helio Castroneves will not be a full-time driver this season but is looking for his fifth Indy 500 win in his ‘Drive for Five’ at the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by
Gainbridge coming up May 26.
“My new role will be very interesting, a learning curve with MSR. We are working already intensively, our group. As you guys know, the MSR, a lot of the people from sportscar end up being on my side on the INDYCAR side for the third car.”
“The last two IndyCar Indy 500s basically was interesting. I felt that we worked well as a team but unfortunately weren’t able to execute with speed. We didn’t find what we are looking for,
and I feel that now we are definitely on the right track, which I’m very happy to say.”
“My role now as a team owner, it’s learning and understanding the other side. As a driver, you don’t see much of it. Sometimes team owners doesn’t share that. You just go with what you see at the moment.”
The energetic Brazilian was asked about the delay on introducing the hybrid engine. “At the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do. We’ve got to take our time. Because of that, we don’t want to ruin the biggest race of the season, which is the Indy 500, so we
want to take our time to make sure that it happens. Plus it’s not only that, it’s the supply issues for a lot of the teams who hardly have the equipment from Dallara and the gearbox. It’s been a challenge from that aspect.”
“It was the right thing to do, the right decision. ”
Rossi tied the knot
Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi has added a wedding ring to his wardrobe since last season. The American was asked what races he is looking forward to this season.
“I think obviously the 500 goes without saying. I think Thermal is going to be a really
exciting event. It’s pretty cool that INDYCAR is doing like a prize money race and obviously having the Thermal Club members involved there and the format of the event and having it be kind of an elimination round to get to the final, a proper made-for-TV event is really exciting, so I’m looking forward to that and seeing how it all goes and
winning a bunch of money; obviously that’s cool.”
” I’m just thinking about St. Pete, honestly. That’s probably the other one, the first one
of the season. ”
Rossi also commented on the fact that the hybrid engine introduction was being delayed until mid season. “Ultimately, there’s going to be an evolution and progression of the car this year with the hybrid coming on board, and the fact that that’s delayed, if people have a problem with that, then that’s fine. But ultimately, there’s a really good direction that the series is heading, and I think people are going to be excited about it.”
“I think there’s a lot of positive news that’s going to be coming over the next three to five months that people are going to be very excited about. There was obviously great news yesterday with INDYCAR returning to iRacing, which is fantastic.”
Lucille Dust reporting live from Indianapolis