What Drivers Are Saying about Saturday’s INDYCAR race at Texas

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Here’s What Drivers Are Saying about this Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway (courtesy INDYCAR Media Relations):

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “We’ve had a few weeks that haven’t gone our way but we’re ready to change all that at Texas. The team learned a lot at Indianapolis and have some new things they plan on trying out on the No. 1 Verizon Chevrolet that I’m really excited about. They’ve been working hard in this long stretch, but we’re ready to do whatever we can to get back into victory lane. Texas fans are always really fun and I always really enjoy getting to meet the passionate INDYCAR fans out there.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “This will be my first time in Texas so I’m excited for my second superspeedway experience. We had a great car in Indy so hopefully, we’ll have a great car in Texas, too. I’m looking forward to more oval action. I’ll try to learn the track as quick as I can and try to maximize our tools and have a great weekend.” (How do you prepare for it?) “Most of the times I just watch videos to prepare myself for the races. It was like that in Indy, so I’ll take some time to watch some races from the past years. But it’s a new car so you don’t know how it’s going to be in traffic, we don’t even know how it’s going to be by ourselves so hopefully, we’ll have a good run there.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “We’ve had really strong cars at Texas the last couple years, so we’re really hoping that can translate into a good weekend for us. Obviously, Detroit wasn’t what we wanted, so we have to put that one behind us and focus on getting the Arrow Electronics car to the front on Saturday night.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “I had a test day at Texas Motor Speedway for a manufacturer test, so it’s actually going to be the first oval on the schedule that I’ve been to before the race weekend. Hopefully, we can hit the ground running a little easier without as many teething issues being new to oval racing. It wasn’t a great test for us since it was so windy that day, but summertime in Texas, I’m sure it’s going to be hot and completely different to how it was then. The tough INDYCAR schedule keeps on trucking, and I’m looking forward to getting back into another race weekend. We had a pretty good weekend in Detroit, so hopefully, we can keep this momentum going.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We’ve won twice at Texas and we were in contention for a third victory last year until we got taken out so hopefully, we’ll have a shot at it again this weekend. The whole PNC Bank team has been pushing hard and we had good pace last weekend in Detroit, which we hope to continue into this weekend. The last three races have been good points races for us and we’ll be trying hard to do that again Saturday night.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Honda): “I’m very happy with the recent results. I had my best qualifying effort ever in Detroit of fourth, but we know there is more to be done to get us to the next level. It’s a big weekend for our sponsor NTT DATA in Texas and we want to put on a great show for them and give them something to cheer about.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m really looking forward to going back to Texas. The team has really been on a roll with a lot of success in the past month and we are ready to keep doing that. The No. 12 Verizon Chevy team brought home a win last year at Texas and we feel strongly that we have another good shot at it. The fans are always a lot of fun there and really seem to enjoy the type of racing we get to do there. I’m really excited to go back there.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Texas is actually my highest average finish of all the tracks that I’ve been to. I’ve finished on the podium nine times there… we may bring to A.J. (Foyt) the big Texas win there. It will be fun. I don’t know why I’ve done well there. They’ve changed the layout of the track too. I like those types of races. Look at Indy, and those types of ovals, the mile and a halfs and two miles (tracks) are something that I probably understand a little bit better. I enjoy it a lot so I can’t wait.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Honda): “It has been a love/hate relationship for me at Texas Motor Speedway my whole career. I have had some really good moments and some moments that weren’t so good. In recent years it has certainly been more on the love side since we have had some great results. I think it’s a great place for us to go to right after this past weekend. I think it’s a place we can go to and have a good result, so I’m definitely excited to get out there and get running in the Fleet Cost & Care Honda. I think the new aero kit is going to behave quite differently than it did at Indy, but I also think that when we show up it’s going to be a real work in progress. I’m sure that from an aerodynamic perspective, INDYCAR is going to have to keep doing some work to get it right. If you look at the way the aero package is set up currently, I think that it’s going to be very difficult to run together but I did not test there so I’m not a great judge of that because I haven’t had any laps there yet. But I definitely think it’s going to be a work in progress and the folks at INDYCAR are ready, willing and able to adjust if we need to, to make the show great. We’ve had a great season so far minus my error in Detroit. I definitely think that we’re in a pretty good spot. We’ve just got to keep it going. A good, solid weekend will help a ton, points-wise. It would get us right up there in the hunt.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): “Some of our sponsors are based or operate in Texas, so the race means a lot to them, their guests and the team. The SealMaster Honda No. 18 car had good pace at both Phoenix (pole) and Indy (qualified fifth). We also had a good test at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year, but the weather and track conditions will be totally different this weekend We just have to hope we unload off the truck with a good baseline and then work from there to fine-tune the car as the track changes and give everyone the result we need.”

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “This will be my first time racing at Texas Motor Speedway and I’m really looking forward to it. It will be nice to get back in the No. 19 Paysafe car after a week off. I feel that we can be very competitive this weekend as I’m more confident with my oval racing after all the time spent on track during the Indy 500.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “It is always great to race at Texas Motor Speedway! It’s a track that we have had success at before and we are excited to see if we can do it again. I am ready to keep the momentum going that the Fuzzy’s Vodka team built during the month of May!”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “Texas is one of the races I have been looking most forward to this year. I’ve tested there a couple of times, but not yet run in a race. I am really enjoying being able to race on the ovals this year. We qualified strong at Indianapolis but the race didn’t end how we were hoping, so it’s exciting to get to another high-speed oval so soon afterward and see what we’ve got.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “Detroit was a bit of mix for us but we were glad to bring home a decent finish on Sunday. Now, we’re focused on getting the No. 22 DXC Technology Chevrolet back to victory lane in the DXC-sponsored race. Texas is always a challenging racetrack but is always exciting for the fans and one of my favorites. My team has a few things up their sleeve and we’re ready to put on a good show for the fans with one of our few night races.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): “It’s been a long stretch for everyone in the Verizon IndyCar Series since the beginning of May, but we always look forward to going to Texas Motor Speedway. I had my first pole position there last year, so it’s always nice to have some extra confidence going into qualifying. It’ll be interesting to see how the new cars take on the night race. I’m ready for some Texas-sized fun with Carlin!”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda): “Texas has been a race I’ve been looking forward to racing the past five years. I don’t think anyone would argue with me that it’s had some of the best Indy car racing we’ve seen. I’ve always been a fan of night races and fast ovals, they make for an exciting combination — on new tires when pushing pretty hard, it can be very exciting. I’m excited to go out there and race for the very first time and see if we can be there in the end because finishing this race is an achievement all in itself.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “Texas has been an interesting race for us the past couple years, and with this new car it’s going to be a curveball for everyone to learn in a short period of time. The temperatures look very hot, but we’ve always had strong cars there in the past – we qualified third there last year. Hopefully, we can have that same qualifying performance with a better outcome and recover some of the points we missed in Detroit. These NAPA AUTO PARTS guys have been working their tails off to give me the best car and they deserve to be leading this championship.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Texas is always an exciting race under the lights. The conditions this weekend will be very hot, so it will be interesting to see how that affects the racing. We have a few top-10s at Texas Motor Speedway, but it’s a track we haven’t been able to add to a win list yet. Coming off a strong weekend in Detroit for the DHL team, we’re hoping to keep the momentum rolling.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 ABeam Consulting Honda): “Texas is always exciting; a typical 1.5-mile oval!  The last few years we had very close racing and I enjoyed it. We will go back to the speedway and put on another exciting show. We want to get a good result and make up some ground in the championship. Hopefully, we have a strong package at Texas.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “I really enjoy the oval at Texas Motor Speedway and I’m excited to get back out there this weekend. We had good results there last season, qualifying sixth and then avoiding all of the trouble until three laps to go in the race where we were still able to come through with a top-10 finish in eighth and lead some laps. Last weekend in Detroit was great for Carlin with a top-10 finish and the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet just outside the top 10, so hopefully we can keep improving and get us both into the top 10 this weekend at Texas.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “Super excited to get back to Texas. I always have had good results at this track. This is where we had the first top-five finish for Harding Racing and I can’t wait to get back there. Last year, we had a really good race and a competitive car. I think this year we’ll be in a really good position by coming back with a similar baseline. That way we can be competitive all weekend and hopefully get back into a good result and a good groove and rhythm to keep carrying the momentum forward.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Honda): “Coming off a solid weekend in Detroit, we’re eager to keep pushing our way up in points at Texas. There’s no denying this isn’t one of my favorite tracks, and the heat is going to be brutal, but we’re going to give it everything we have to bring home a good result for U.S. Concrete in their backyard.”

IndyCar Preseason, Day 1: Simon Pagenaud on why he likes teasing Josef Newgarden

Newgarden Pagenaud feud
Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment
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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — A roundup of nuggets from the opening day of preseason IndyCar Content Days for media that lead into two days of preseason testing Thursday and Friday at The Thermal Club, starting with a playful “feud” between former teammates Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud:

After making a point to needle Newgarden during the Rolex 24 at Daytona (when he was warned for being deemed to have caused a spin by the car driven by Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), Pagenaud laughed about why he likes poking at his ex-teammate at Team Penske.

“I just love to press the button with Josef,” Pagenaud said. “I just love it. I’m being very open about it. I think he knows it, too. It’s funny to see him unsettled a little bit. I like when he gets aggressive. I don’t know why. It’s funny.”

They scrapped a few times as Penske teammates. Pagenaud notably was hot after a 2017 incident at Gateway during Newgarden’s first season with the team, but he later backtracked and blamed it on his French blood.

Pagenaud says all is good between now – though he also admits with a devilish grin that he’s taking advantage of the freedom from leaving Penske last year.

“Absolutely, yeah. I couldn’t do that before,” he said with a laugh about teasing Newgarden. “I would get in trouble.

“Yeah, I can be myself. I can say what I want to say. Nobody is upset about it. I love Josef. Don’t get me wrong. I love the guy.

“Do I love the driver? Not always, but I enjoy pressing the button with him because he seems like such a confident person. Yeah, I like to just go press it a little bit.”

When he was informed of the sardonic comments (Pagenaud asked reporters to make sure they relayed that he enjoyed passing Newgarden in the race) after his first stint at Daytona last weekend, Newgarden took a shot back.

“He doesn’t get many opportunities these days, so I’m sure he enjoyed that,” Newgarden said. “Take them when you can get them. There’s so much happening I don’t even remember half the stuff that happened when I was out there. Hey, he’s a big note-keeper, that guy.”

Pagenaud, who is winless since 2020, conceded that point Tuesday at IndyCar’s media session.

“I will do better this year,” he said. “But I got to build my team up, put myself in that situation. We were not there yet. I hope we can be there this year.

“But certainly not being teammates, you race differently. Now, the driver that he is, I have a huge amount of respect for him. He’s tremendous. I mean, he’s one of the best at what he does. So beating him is even a better reward. But I like my résumé better than his.”

For the record, Newgarden has one more IndyCar championship than Pagenaud but is empty in the Indy 500 win column compared to the 2019 winner at the Brickyard.

During his Rolex 24 availability, Pagenaud also took playful aim at the “Bus Bros,” the branded social and digital content that Newgarden and teammate and buddy Scott McLaughlin have been producing for nearly a year.

“Apparently they hang out together all the time,” Pagenaud cracked. “They’re ‘Bus Bros.’ Do you guys know what this is, the ‘Bus Bros’ thing? Have you watched it? I should start watching it.”

Newgarden and McLaughlin are scheduled to appear together on the second day of the preseason media event at the Palm Springs Convention Center, so stay tuned for the next round of snark.


Pagenaud is among many drivers enthused to get acclimated to The Thermal Club, which is a $275 million motorsports country club of sorts.

But for the Frenchman, Thermal represents more than just a chance to tune up for the 2023 season. Pagenaud, who made his first visit to the desert track three years ago after winning the Indy 500, is thinking about his long-term future.

“It’s actually something I’m really interested in for my future but in another life,” he said. “I love the concept. Actually before my IndyCar career, I was on a project like that myself in France. I was going to build something similar. I had the backing, I had everything going on, but my career took off. I had to give up on the project.

“But it is something I’ve always been interested in. My dad used to run my home racetrack. I had access to it, so I could see how that was going.

“I always had a passion for it because it’s a way to allow the fans to get closer to the car, allow the sport to be more known to the general public. There’s so many things that you can do with a racetrack, not only for races, but so many people that can come to bicycle races, you can have runners do a marathon. It doesn’t have to be just racing. It can be events. I’m into that. I’ve always been. Certainly when it’s time to stop driving, it will be something that I’m interested in, yes. That’s maybe 20 years from now.”


Felix Rosenqvist returns for his third consecutive season at McLaren, the longest stint with one team for the Swede since 2014 in F3.

But he finds himself somewhat in a similar position to last season when his return was uncertain for months during the Alex Palou-Chip Ganassi Racing saga. Palou is back with Ganassi but still expected to join the team in 2024, and with Rossi and O’Ward on long-term deals, Rosenqvist would be unable to stay unless the team added a fourth car.

He is taking it all in stride with the same grace in which he managed last season’s uncertainty.

“I think I handled it probably as good as I could,” Rosenqvist said of last year. “That’s probably a reason why I’m here this year. I think it’s a massive opportunity for me to be back for a third year. I feel like I have all the tools I need to perform, feeling very good with everyone at the car. As I said, there’s so many things happening last year on and off the track. I think as a team, we just really learned a lot from that that we can bring into this season.

“I think we’ll be tough this year. We have a lot of things in the bag to try early this season. A couple of things here at Thermal we want to try. Going into the season, we have pinpointed some areas where we feel we were lacking a little bit, like the short ovals, for example. I feel like we’ve done the best we can to attack all those areas and bring the best possible package we can.”

Rosenqvist is winless since his breakthrough victory over O’Ward at Road America in 2020. Ending that skid certainly would improve his prospects, but he isn’t worried.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” he said. “That’s a long time until next year. I think it’s a great opportunity for me. I’m in a good spot. I’m in a well-performing team. I feel well with everyone around me. I feel like I have a good support from the team. I don’t really think too much about that stuff. I just try to do what I can do, which is go fast forward and try to win races.”


After being frozen out of remote access to team data last year, Palou said his working relationship at Ganassi is “back to 100% like it was before from both sides.” The 2021 series champion said he had full privileges restored after he closed the season by winning the finale at Laguna Seca Raceway and then settled on staying with Ganassi a day later.

He is allowed to continue his F1 testing with McLaren, too, though IndyCar will be the priority in-season.

“It was a tough year,” said Palou, whose contract dispute lasted for two months. “Could have been a lot worse, for sure, than what we had but also could have been a little bit better if we didn’t have anything around in our minds. It’s a part of racing.

“I’m just happy that now we know that even with things in our minds, we were able to be successful. Hopefully, we can be back to 2021 things during this season. Yeah, obviously there’s always some moments (in 2022) where you’re like, ‘Oh, no, my God, this is not going the direction I wanted.’ But there was things that were out of my control, obviously. Some things that I could control, as well. But at the end of the day I had all the information from my side, from other sides. I knew that everything could be settled, and it did.”


Pato O’Ward unplugged from the racing world for six weeks during the offseason, ensuring he was fully recharged when the new year arrived.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to do it in the past few years,” said O’Ward, who tested an F1 car in 2021 and then went right into preparing and racing (then winning) the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona. “I said, ‘I want at least six weeks. Don’t talk to me, don’t text me, I don’t want to hear anything.’ It’s healing. It’s very healing.

“As much as you love what you do, you need to find a balance of just doing something else. I always tell people, there’s a huge difference between relaxing and recharging. How I recharge is doing things I don’t normally do during the year. Just being at the beach to me is my favorite thing to do after driving race cars. I made sure that I had that kind of time to just enjoy my loved ones. After I was finished with that, I was like, ‘OK, race cars now.’ ”


Marcus Ericsson is planning on a long future with Chip Ganassi Racing, and the 2022 Indy 500 winner seems well-positioned to become the team’s anchor driver if he can maintain last season’s consistency.

Jimmie Johnson has been replaced by the Marcus Armstrong-Takuma Sato combination, and Alex Palou is leaving after this year.

Six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, 42, is Ganassi’s unquestioned dean until his retirement, but Ericsson clearly is interested in the mantle after that.

“I’m feeling very much at home in the team,” said Ericsson, the Formula One who is entering his fourth season with CGR. “I’m super happy about that. I wish to stay for a very long time, as well. There is some uncertainty with other places maybe in the future, but Dixon seems to be just getting better and better. He might be here for another 10 years or so, who knows.

“But that’s great. Me and Scott, we work really well together. I can still learn a lot from him. I want to be here for a long time and win races and championships together.”

The Swede had a droll response when asked if no longer being the only Marcus will get confusing in Ganassi debriefs. “Yeah, it is; I’m angry,” Ericsson deadpanned. “I think we’re OK. He seems like a good kid. He has a good name.”


Following in the footsteps of Callum Ilott and Christian Lundgaard from F2 to IndyCar, Armstrong is OK with deferring his F1 dreams to run road and street courses as a rookie in 2023. The New Zealander grew up as an IndyCar fan rooting for Dixon, his boyhood idol and fellow countryman.

“I’ve been watching him on TV since I was a kid,” Armstrong, 22, said. “It’s cool because IndyCar is massive where I’m from because of him. I’ve always been so attracted to this championship. Of course, I spent my entire life chasing F1. You can never say ‘never.’ If I’m honest with you, I’m happy where I am now. It’s a dream come true.”

Armstrong hopes to move to full time in 2024 and believes being aligned with a powerhouse such as Ganassi will give him an opportunity to post strong results immediately (just as Ilott and Lundgaard had flashes as rookies last year).

“I’ve been genuinely impressed by the organization, just the strategic point of view that Chip Ganassi Racing has, it’s really quite remarkable,” he said. “I can understand why they’ve had so much success. I think fundamentally I need to get on it straightaway. I have all the information in the world, really. I just need to hit the ground running, do well immediately.”


In among the wildest stories of the offseason, rookie Sting Ray Robb revealed he landed his ride at Dale Coyne Racing because he ran into Indy Lights champion Linus Lundqvist at PitFit Training, a physical fitness and performance center used by many drivers in Indianapolis.

Lundqvist was the presumptive favorite for the DCR No. 51 Dallara-Honda, which was the last open seat heading into the 2022 season. Because of his Indy Lights title (since rebranded as “IndyNXT”) with HMD Motorsports, Lundqvist had a six-figure sponsorship to bring to an IndyCar team, and DCR is partnered with HMD.

“There was a few teams that we were talking to, and Dale’s team was not the one that was at the top of the list because we thought they already had a driver,” Robb said. “Obviously with Linus winning the championship, we assumed with the HMD association there that there would be a straight shoe-in for him.

“But I actually was at PitFit Training one day with Linus and discovered that was not the case. That created an opportunity for us that allowed me to call up my manager, Pieter Rossi, and get him on the phone, and he immediately called Dale and said, ‘Hey, we’re available.’ I think there was a mutual understanding of what availability was for either one of us. That’s when conversations began. Then we had a really good test in 2023 right at the beginning of January, and I think that was kind of the one that set the tone that allowed me to get in the seat.

“I think there’s been some opportunities that were miraculously created that we couldn’t have done on our own.”

Robb, who finished second in last year’s Indy Lights standings, hasn’t talked to Lundqvist since their PitFit meeting.

“Linus does deserve a seat” in IndyCar, Robb said. “His on-track performance was incredible. But it takes more than just a driver to get into IndyCar. You’ve got to have a village around you that supports you, and so I think that that is where my group made a difference. It wasn’t just in my performance, but it was the people around me.

“I feel bad for Linus because as a driver I can feel that way towards him because I could be in that seat if I didn’t have those same people around me. So there you go.”