What Drivers Are Saying about Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix in Indianapolis

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Here’s what drivers are saying about Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Verizon IndyCar Series points leader): “It’s been really great to have some time off before Indianapolis, but we’ve definitely been hard at work still. My team put together a really strong car at our last road course event at Barber, which won us the race. Now, we’re headed to the INDYCAR GP and the guys have put together what I’m sure will be another super-fast No. 1 Verizon Chevrolet. I’m feeling really good about it. Really, I’m excited for the whole month of May in Indianapolis. There’s really nothing like it and I know the whole team is ready to put on a great show at our next two races.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m back! I’m so excited to be back with Team Penske at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in INDYCAR. I’ve been really enjoying my time with the team’s IMSA program, but I’m really excited to jump back into the No. 3 Verizon Chevrolet. We have a great team of guys put together for both the INDYCAR GP and the Indianapolis 500. I’m ready to kick off the month with a road course race and get some time in the car with the new aero kit. More importantly, I’m excited to go out there and put on a great show for the fans there.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I’m excited for my first month of May in INDYCAR. It’s a pleasure to be here and I’m looking forward to the month. I’m happy with the performance of the car so far and I think we have great potential here at the Indy road course. We had a tough qualifying in Barber, but the race was pretty good, so I think we had a decent pace there. We’ll try to carry the momentum to Indy and have a great month here. Personally, the Indy road course is a track I really like, last year I got my first podium in Indy Lights here (finished third) so I’m looking forward to the race.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “Like I’ve kind of been saying all year, we’re going to every racetrack for the first time with these new kits, and obviously, the INDYCAR GP is no different. We kind of had a half test day here earlier in the year – kind of hampered by weather a little bit – that didn’t go super well for us. We’ve seen that before this year, and as a team, we’ve managed to fight back, so we’re just going to try and do what we’ve been doing: stay focused, keep our heads down and deal with whatever issues come up on a race weekend. At the end of the day, it’s May; we’re excited to finally be kicking off the month on track in the Arrow Electronics car. Fingers crossed we can keep up the level of performance, if not raise it another level.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “I’m really excited to get the month of May started. It’s going to be my first! First, we have to get through the INDYCAR GP. I wasn’t able to do the test here a few weeks ago because of an (off-track) injury, but I think we’ve made some good steps after the testing James (Hinchcliffe) had. I think, if everything runs smoothly, we’ll score some good points in the Lucas Oil car and try to keep this momentum we have going.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “The (INDYCAR) Grand Prix is becoming a really cool tradition here in Indianapolis to start off the month of May. Any time you can add a race, especially when you don’t have to leave home, it’s a win, I think. The focus is definitely on the road course this weekend, but with the recent delayed testing on the oval we did last week, I think everyone is also thinking about the big one, as well, later this month on Memorial Day weekend. I don’t think we’ve had the start to the season we’d hoped for in the PNC Bank car, but it’s a great time to get a strong result and get things going the right direction this weekend.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I’m really looking forward to the INDYCAR Grand Prix. It’s going to be quite a bit warmer there this weekend than when we were last here. A few of the first races haven’t gone our way this season, but there is a lot of potential and I’m excited for us putting a whole race together. The whole team at Chip Ganassi Racing has done a great job so far this season with pit stops and strategy and everything. We are on the right track and hope to start getting the results soon.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, 2017 INDYCAR Grand Prix winner): “After a couple weeks off, I’m ready to get back at it. We had a rough go of it at Barber, but we’re putting it behind us. The month of May is such a special time in Indianapolis and I’m really excited to go back there. Last year we won the INDYCAR GP in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy and I see no reason we can’t do it again. Historically, it’s been one of our better tracks as a team, and I think we will be really strong and I know we’re going to have a good shot at winning there again.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “There is always a big anticipation for the Grand Prix because it is the race just before the (Indianapolis) 500. I love the road course and I’m excited to be back and expecting good things. You’re at the Speedway so it’s always a cool race. In the past, we used to stay here the whole month, but then they shortened the month of May, and now by adding the Grand Prix, the month of May came back in my opinion. I’m really excited to be back.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “I always think that the INDYCAR Grand Prix is one of the more important races of the year, just to get the momentum going for May and the Indy 500, and I certainly think that will be the case this time around as well. We have had a good start to the year. I have been pleased with the performance of our team on race day. Obviously, we need to keep working on that and I need to work on making less mistakes myself in qualifying. It will be really important for the United Rentals team to have a strong May and collect a lot of points and then carry on from the Grand Prix into the Indy 500 and then on to Detroit. Normally Detroit is where we really start getting good. Hopefully, we can start that process a little earlier this year. I have always loved this place. It is definitely unique. I think we are going to be pretty strong. It’s got long straightaways, a flowing section of corners and this track allows you to go race for sure and make a lot of passes so it’s an ideal track.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): “This will be my fifth INDYCAR Grand Prix and I have to be honest, the first couple of years, finishing fourth, I was a bit disappointed. The last two years we had decent cars, but things just didn’t go our way. I like the design of the circuit. There are a couple of good passing zones, but like all road and street courses, qualifying will be very important. The SealMaster Honda No. 18 has shown good pace the first four races of the season and we’re in the championship hunt, but we know we have our work cut out for us.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I feel confident going into the INDYCAR Grand Prix this weekend and there is definitely a bit of buzz around Indianapolis about it, as well. This is the first circuit I have been able to spend a day testing at prior to the race weekend, so I am sure that will help. We were really quick at the test and we are looking to continue where we left off with the Fuzzy’s Vodka car.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet): “It is always the best time of the year when we get to race around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Obviously we have the Indianapolis 500, but first, we get to race the road course for the INDYCAR Grand Prix. Ed Carpenter Racing is really excited to go back to the GP where we had a really strong race last year. Hopefully, we can have similar pace and competitiveness this year in the Preferred Freezer Services car and start off the Month of May strong.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s the Month of May in Indianapolis. What more can you say? The whole series really rallies around the month and INDYCAR does a great job of really giving the fans a lot to do with two races. The INDYCAR GP is always a lot of fun and it’s a race myself and the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet team are really comfortable with. We won that race a few years ago and are ready to do it again. My team has been working hard to prepare great cars for the month and we saw a lot of really great speed at the recent test at Indianapolis. I really just can’t wait to get back on track in Indiana.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet): “As much as we look forward to 500 miles at the end of May, I always enjoy the challenge of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course to kick off the month. I’ve had three fifth-place finishes and strong qualifying sessions here for the INDYCAR Grand Prix, and I hope to move up to the podium this weekend for Carlin’s debut. I think the entire Carlin team has been rolling with some momentum the past few weeks, from a strong finish for the No. 23 team in Long Beach to close qualifying lap times in Barber. Of course, this is an entirely different animal, but I know we’ll all be working hard to start the month on a high note.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Group One Thousand One Honda): “The month of May is finally here! The INDYCAR GP is always special as it’s the final race before the Indy 500. We had a great test here about a month ago and I’m very excited to see what we can accomplish this weekend. The last two races have been personal bests for me in one aspect or another and I hope to keep that progress going for our whole Group One Thousand One team.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “The month of May is finally here! I am so excited to kick it all off with the INDYCAR GP as it is one of my favorite tracks on the calendar. We had a very successful test there last month and I’ll be looking to translate that into a strong result to get the month off to a positive start for the NAPA Racing team.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “The INDYCAR GP kick starts the month of May at IMS, so it’s important to get the momentum rolling for the Indy 500. Coming off our P2 finish at Barber, the No. 28 DHL team is headed in the right direction. We’ve finished this race in second and third, so we’ll be working hard to get on that top step of the podium.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “The INDYCAR GP is quite fun. The long straight and the heavy braking areas provide a lot of opportunities for drivers to overtake, so it is usually a very exciting race. We had a productive test day on the road course in March, and look forward to the opportunity to have a strong race and make up some ground in the championship. Obviously, it is an important race for the 500, so we want to have a good, strong event to have good momentum for the month of May. The section from the main straight, which is the opposite direction that we use for the Indy 500 is something that reminds me of my Formula One days. Going from the speedway to the road course is always unique, so that’s my favorite part.”

KYLE KAISER (No. 32 NFP / Juncos Racing Chevrolet): “I’m glad the INDYCAR Grand Prix weekend is here. I’ve been itching to get back to racing since Long Beach. Last year, we had success in Indy Lights winning the Indy GP, so this is a track I’m very familiar with and enjoy driving. The team has continued to work very hard and improve the car and I’ve been working hard to improve on the progress we’ve built after our previous races. I’m ready to get back behind the wheel and continue to enjoy this incredible opportunity.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “I love the month of May and getting back out on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think the INDYCAR Grand Prix is such a great way to kick off the month before we all switch into 500 mode. My first year on the IMS road course, I finished mid-pack and by last year we’d worked our way into the top 10 with a seventh-place finish, so it’s definitely turned into a track that I really enjoy and one that suits my driving style. It’s really exciting to be a part of Carlin’s first month of May Indy car experience and I’m really hoping we can have some good results for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): “The GP is a very important race for us because it helps to set the momentum for the big one – the Indy 500. We had a decent test on the Indy road course; we look to qualify in Firestone Fast Six and get a podium finish. I think so far this season, we’ve had the pace to do that.”

‘Baby Borgs’ bring special Indy 500 bonds, memories for Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi

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Mike Levitt/LAT Images/BorgWarner
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THERMAL, Calif. – Winning the Indy 500 is a crowning achievement for driver and car owner, but for Chip Ganassi, last May’s victory by Marcus Ericsson had meaning even beyond just capturing one of the world’s greatest sporting events.

When Ganassi was 5 years old and growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his father, Floyd, attended a convention in Indianapolis in 1963. Floyd went to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to tour the track and visit the former museum that used to stand next to the main gate on 16th and Georgetown.

Ganassi’s father brought young Chip a souvenir from the gift shop. It was an 8-millimeter film of the 1963 Indy 500, a race won by the legendary Parnelli Jones.

“I must have watched it about 1,000 times,” Ganassi recalled. “More importantly than that, something you did when you were 5 years old is still with you today.

“I was 50 years old when I celebrated my Thanksgiving with Parnelli. It dawned on me that something I did when I was 5 years old took me to when I was 50 years old. That’s pretty special.”

Ericsson and Ganassi were presented with their “Baby Borgs,” the mini-replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy, in a ceremony Feb. 2 at The Thermal Club (which played host to NTT IndyCar Series preseason testing). The win in the 106th Indy 500 marked the sixth time a Ganassi driver won the biggest race in the world.

Ganassi will turn 65 on May 24, just four days before the 107th Indianapolis 500 on May 28. The 2023 race will mark the 60th anniversary of the victory by Jones, who is now the oldest living winner of the Indianapolis 500 at 89.

Jones wanted to do something special for Ericsson and Ganassi, so each was given framed photos personally inscribed by Jones.

Parnelli Jones (Steve Shunck Photo For BorgWarner)

“Congratulations Marcus Ericsson and my good friend Chip Ganassi on winning the 2022 Indianapolis 500,” Jones said in remarks conveyed by BorgWarner publicist Steve Shunck. “There is no greater race in the whole world and winning it in 1963 was by far the biggest thrill in my life.”

Ganassi’s relationship with his racing hero began 60 years ago, but the two have shared some important moments since then.

It was Jones that signed off on Ganassi’s first Indianapolis 500 license in 1982. Jones was one of the veteran observers who worked with Ganassi and other rookie drivers that year to ensure they were capable of competing in the high-speed, high-risk Indianapolis 500.

When Ganassi turned 50, he got to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with Jones.

“We’ve been friends over the years,” Ganassi told NBC Sports. “He wrote me a personal note and sent me some personal photographs. It really says what this race is all about and how important it is to win the biggest auto race in the world.”

Michelle Collins, the director of global communications and marketing for BorgWarner, presented the “Baby Borgs,” first to Ganassi and then to Ericsson.

“More special is winning the Indianapolis 500,” Ganassi said during the presentation. “It’s been a big part of my life. I want to call out my buddy, Roger Penske, and thank him for the stewardship of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and what it means to us. It’s about the history, the tradition and, to me, it’s about the people that have meant so much in my life.

“Thanks for the trophy, Marcus.”

Marcus Ericsson and Chip Ganassi hold their Baby Borgs while posing with the Borg-Warner Trophy (Bruce Martin).

The Baby Borg presentation also came on the birthday of sculptor William Behrends, who has crafted the Bas-relief sterling silver face of each winner on the Borg-Warner Trophy since 1990. The “Baby Borg” presents each winner with a miniature of one of the most famous trophies in sports.

“I have to thank BorgWarner for everything that has happened since winning the Indianapolis 500, including the trip to Sweden,” said Ericsson, who took a November victory lap in his native country. “I’m very thankful for that because it’s memories that are going to be with me for the rest of my life.

“To bring the Borg-Warner Trophy to my hometown, seeing all the people there on the city square on a dark day in the middle of November. It was filled with people and that was very special.

“I’m very proud and honored to be part of Chip Ganassi Racing. To win the Indianapolis 500 with that team is quite an honor. It’s a team effort and a lot of people worked very hard to make this happen.

“Our focus now is to go back-to-back at the Indy 500.”


If Ericsson is successful in becoming the first driver to win back-to-back Indy since Helio Castroneves in 2001-02, he can collect an additional $420,000 in the Borg-Warner Rollover Bonus. With Castroneves the last driver to collect, the bonus has grown to an astronomical amount over 21 years.

Ericsson is from Kumla, Sweden, so the $420,000 would have an exchange rate of $4,447,641.67 Swedish Kronor.

“It’s a nice thing to know I could get that if I do win it again,” Ericsson told NBC Sports. “But the Indianapolis 500 with its history as the biggest and greatest race in the world, it doesn’t matter with the money, with the points, with anything. Everyone is going to go out there and do everything to win that race.

“It’s great to know that, but I will race just as hard.”

Marcus Ericsson points at the newest face on the Borg-Warner Trophy (Mike Levitt/LAT Images/BorgWarner).

A popular slogan in racing is “Chip Likes Winners.” After winning the 106th Indy 500, Ganassi must really love Ericsson.

“It doesn’t get much bigger than that, does it? I’m very thankful to be driving for Chip,” Ericsson said. “He likes winners and winning the Indianapolis 500, it doesn’t get better than that.”

When Ericsson was presented with his Baby Borg, he stood off to the side and admired it the way a child looks at a special gift on Christmas morning. The wide-eyed amazement of his career-defining moment was easy to read and met with delight by executives of BorgWarner (an automotive and technology company that has sponsored the Borg-Warner Trophy since its 1935 debut).

“I noticed that immediately and I was watching him look at it wishing I had a camera to capture that,” Collins told NBC Sports. “But maybe not because we always have our phones in front of us and it’s nice to take in that moment as it is. That is what makes the moment well worth it.”

Marcus Ericsson (Bruce Martin)

Said BorgWarner executive vice president and chief strategic officer Paul Farrell: “It’s very special to have the big trophy that has been around since 1935 and to have a piece of that. Hopefully it’s something that (Ericsson) cherishes. We think it’s special, and clearly, Marcus Ericsson thinks it is very special.”

The trophy process begins shortly after the race as the winner has the famed Borg-Warner Wreath placed around his neck, and the Borg-Warner Trophy is put on the engine cover. The next morning, the winner meets with Behrends, who has been sculpting the faces on the trophy since Arie Luyendyk’s first victory in 1990. Later in the year, the winner visits Behrends’ studio in Tryon, North Carolina, for a “Live Study.”

The process takes several more steps before the face is reduced to the size of an egg and casted in sterling silver. It is attached to the permanent Borg-Warner Trophy and unveiled at a ceremony later in the year. Ericsson’s face was unveiled last October during a ceremony in Indianapolis.

That’s when it hit Ericsson, a three-time winner in IndyCar after going winless in Formula One over 97 starts from 2014-18.

“Until then, it was strange because you are so busy with your season right after the Indy 500 you don’t really get much time to sit back and think about what you had accomplished,” Ericsson said. “It was the offseason before I really realized what I had done.”

The permanent trophy remains on display at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but has been known to travel with the winning driver on special tours, such as the Nov. 3-7 trip to Sweden.

“It’s been incredible to see the amount of interest in me and the IndyCar Series and the Indy 500,” Ericsson said. “The trophy tour with the Borg-Warner Trophy we did in November really made a huge impact in Sweden. I was on every TV show, morning TV, magazines, newspapers, everywhere. People are talking about IndyCar racing. People are talking about Marcus Ericsson. It’s been huge.

“I was back in Sweden last month for the Swedish Sports Awards and I finished third in the Sports Performance of the Year. Motorsports is usually not even nominated there, and I finished third. That says a lot about the interest and support I’ve gotten back home in Sweden.”


Ericsson continued to reap the rewards of his Indianapolis 500 victory last week at the lavish Thermal Club, about a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs, California.

Earlier in the day before the Baby Borg presentation, Ericsson, and Chip Ganassi were among the 27 car-driver combinations that completed the first day of IndyCar’s “Spring Training” on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile road course. The next day, Ericsson turned the test’s fastest lap.

The 32-year-old still seems to be riding the wave, along with his girlfriend, Iris Tritsaris Jondahl, a Greece native who also lived in Sweden and now lives with Ericsson in Indianapolis.

“Today, receiving my Baby Borg, it was another thing of making it real,” Ericsson said. “It’s not a dream. It’s reality. To get the Baby Borg and bring it home. My girlfriend, Iris, and I are house hunting, looking for a house in Indianapolis. It will definitely have a very special place in our new home.”

Marcus Ericsson and girlfriend Iris Tritsaris Jondahlc share a kiss at the Baby Borg presentation (Mike Levitt/LAT Images/BorgWarner).

Ericsson told NBC Sports his most cherished trophy before getting his Baby Borg was for his first NTT IndyCar Series win in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix in 2021.

“It was such a huge win for me and such a huge breakthrough for me and my career,” he said. “After that, it catapulted me into a top driver in IndyCar.”

The Brickyard win was another level for Ericsson, who moved to Ganassi in 2020.

“Marcus kept himself in the race all day,” Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull told NBC Sports. “Anybody that ran a race like Marcus ran, maybe you deserve the race win, but you don’t always get it. Marcus did everything that it took, and we are really, really proud of him.”

Ericsson also proved last year to be one of the best oval drivers in the series, a much different form of racing than he experienced until he came to the United States.

“Racing in Europe and around the world, I always liked high-speed corners,” he explained. “It was always my favorite. I always had this idea if I go to IndyCar and race on the ovals, it is something that would suit me and my driving style. I was always excited to try that. When I came to IndyCar and started to drive on ovals, I liked it straight away. It worked for me and my style.

“The first few attempts at Indy, I had good speed, but it was always some small mistakes that got me out of contention. I learned from them. I’m very proud I was able to pull it off, but it was a lot of hard work behind that.”

Michelle Collins of BorgWarner presented Baby Borgs to Marcus Ericsson and Chip Ganassi at a ceremony also attended by Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull (Mike Levitt/LAT Images/BorgWarner).

The victory in the Indianapolis 500 is etched in history, as is Ericsson’s face on the trophy.

“It’s such a special thing,” the driver said. “The BorgWarner people and IndyCar and everyone at IMS, I get to experience so many cool things since winning the Indy 500. It’s a win that keeps on giving. It never ends. It still does.

“I can’t wait to get back to Indianapolis, the month of May, as the champion. I still have to pinch myself. It’s a dream, for sure.”

Ganassi doesn’t have to pinch himself — all he needs to do is look at his collection of Baby Borgs.

His first Indy 500 win — as a team co-owner with Pat Patrick — came in 1989 with Emerson Fittipaldi’s thrilling duel against Al Unser Jr.

In 1990, Ganassi formed Chip Ganassi Racing. Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000, Scott Dixon in 2008, Dario Franchitti in 2010 and 2012 and Ericsson in 2022.

“It’s a feather in the team’s cap for sure just to have our representation on the Borg-Warner Trophy with five other drivers,” Ganassi said. “It’s a testament to the team, a testament to Mike Hull that runs the team in Indianapolis. I just feel really lucky to be a part of it. It’s great to work with a great team of great people.

“Just to relive that moment again and again never gets old; never goes away. I’m really lucky to be in the position I’m in. It’s an honor to represent the team with the great people that it took to bring Marcus across the finish line. He and I get to celebrate events like this, but it’s really about the people at Chip Ganassi Racing in Indianapolis that pull this all together.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500