Kanaan Signs On To Drive In The 2023 Indianapolis 500

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, December 1 2022

Brazil’s Tony Kanaan will drive an Arrows McLaren car in May in Indy.

By John Sturbin/Senior Writer

Popular INDYCAR veteran Tony Kanaan will chase a second Indianapolis 500 victory in 2023 in a one-off appearance with Arrow McLaren SP.

Kanaan’s Indy 500 entry will be a fourth Chevrolet-powered Dallara fielded by AMSP under first-year Racing Director Gavin Ward. The 2013 Indy 500 champion with KV Racing Technology-SH Racing, Kanaan will be competing in his 22nd running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 28.

Kanaan joins the McLaren camp for the race’s 107th edition after a third-place finish at IMS last May 29 in the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Led by race-winner Marcus Ericsson of Sweden, CGR capped a dominant Month of May by placing two cars in the top three. Kanaan recorded the fifth top-three finish of his 500 career in his second consecutive Indy 500 start for team-owner Chip Ganassi.

Kanaan will be teamed with AMSP newcomer Alexander Rossi _ winner of the 100th Indy 500 in May 2016 with Andretti Autosport _ as well as native Mexican Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden. 

“I feel extremely lucky to get another shot racing in the Indy 500,” said Kanaan, a native of Brazil who will turn 48 on Dec. 31. “I’m excited to work with Pato, Felix and Alexander and race with the Arrow McLaren SP team. My biggest battle in last year’s race was against these three drivers, so working with them and driving with them will be exciting for all of us.”

Rossi, who finished fifth at IMS last May, has been assigned the No. 7 AMSP Chevrolet for his inaugural season with the organization. O’Ward _ the 2022 Indy 500 runnerup _ returns in the No. 5 Chevrolet. Rosenqvist placed fourth at IMS last May. 

Kanaan’s INDYCAR resume includes a second-place result in 2004 with Andretti Green Racing and three third-place finishes over 21 appearances on the famed 2.5-mile IMS oval. “T.K.” has 17 INDYCAR victories as well as the series championship in 2004, when he won three races and completed all 3,305 laps contested. 

“Tony proved last year he can compete with the best of them, and I’m excited to see him put on a show with our team next May,” McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said.

NTT DATA’s parent company, NTT, has been title sponsor of the open-wheel series since 2019. Under the new agreement with Arrow McLaren SP, NTT DATA will be lead partner on Rosenqvist’s No. 6 Chevrolet for 10 races in 2023, highlighted by the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street race in Florida. In addition, NTT DATA will sponsor its “home race” on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth; the Indy 500; Music City Grand Prix on the Streets of Nashville and the season-finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in California.

McLaren Racing was founded by driver Bruce McLaren of New Zealand in 1963. The team entered its first Formula One race in 1966. Since then McLaren has won 20 FIA F1 world championships, more than 180 Formula 1 grand prixs, the Indianapolis 500 three times and endurance racing’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in its first attempt.

Reigning Indy 500 champion Marcus Ericsson’s excellent offseason featured a recent Champion’s Tour of his native Sweden with the Borg-Warner Trophy.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson is touring the world with the Borg Warner. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)

A native of Kumla, Sweden, Ericsson drove to victory in the 106th edition of the Indy 500 in the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. The Champion’s Tour unofficially kicked off with the unveiling of Ericsson’s likeness on the Borg-Warner Trophy on Oct. 27 in Indianapolis. The bas-relief, sterling silver image of Ericsson is the 109th face to be affixed to the iconic trophy, awarded annually to the winner of the Indianapolis 500 since 1936.

Ericsson, 32, is the second Swede to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” joining Kenny Brack of A.J. Foyt Racing in 1999. Ericsson scored the fifth Indy 500 victory for Chip Ganassi Racing as a sole entrant and sixth overall.

Renowned sculptor Will Behrends created Ericsson’s image, as he has for every winner since 1990. The unveiling ceremony took place at Union 50 in downtown Indianapolis.

“I’m truly honored to have my face sculpted onto the historic Borg-Warner Trophy as an Indianapolis 500 winner,” Ericsson said. “It was an incredible experience to work with Will Behrends and see his dedication and artistry first-hand. Will has done a marvelous job. Joining all the previous winners on the trophy is something I’ll always be very proud of and will never forget.”

Stops on the promotional tour included a Stockholm media swing and fan-facing events as well as a celebration in the city square of Marcus’ hometown of Kumla.

The visit to Sweden marked only the fourth time the Borg-Warner Trophy was taken outside the United States. The trophy previously traveled to Japan in 2017 for a celebration of Takuma Sato’s victory in the 101st Indianapolis 500. During the summer of 2018, the Borg-Warner was displayed at the Silver Anniversary Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England, and later at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England. It also travelled to Paris in 2019 for the likeness unveiling of 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud of France.

Originally designed in 1935, the sterling silver trophy measures over 5-feet, 4-3/4 inches tall and weighs more than 110 pounds as it carries the sculpted face of every Indy 500 winner since 1911. Early next year, Ericsson will receive his BorgWarner Championships Driver’s Trophy, also known as the Baby Borg, a miniature replica of the large-scale Borg-Warner Trophy.

“The Borg-Warner Trophy represents much more than just a victory on the racetrack; it symbolizes the great tradition of the Indy 500 and honoring the driver for their triumph while paying homage to the champions of the past,” said Michelle Collins, global director, marketing and public relations for BorgWarner. “It is our honor to add Marcus’ image to the trophy and, together as a company, congratulate him on his countless hours of work and dedication to his craft.”

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has revised the entry designation for its three fulltime programs for the 2023  season. Graham Rahal will continue in the No. 15 Honda-powered entry while Jack Harvey will take over the No. 30 car and Christian Lundgaard will wheel the No. 45 car. 

Graham Rahal is set for the 2023 season. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)

“We have been looking at ways to ensure our increased performance and improve our potential for success for 2023 and one of our decisions has been to reassign cars to Jack and Christian,” said Bobby Rahal, the 1986 Indy 500 champion and co-owner of RLL. “We made a commitment to our drivers, team members and sponsors to perform at our highest level possible and although 2022 didn’t work out as we wanted, we have made moves to improve this. One was the commitment we made when we hired Technical Director Stefano Sordo, who can bring a new perspective.

“We feel this recent decision on our driver/car lineup will also be a positive one for both Jack and Christian as well as our organization as a whole.”

Harvey will begin his fourth full season in INDYCAR in 2023. A native of Great Britain, Harvey’s best start to-date is second in the 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and 2020 GMR Grand Prix. His best finish is third at the 2019 Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Lundgaard will begin his second full season in the series in 2023. The native of Denmark was named 2022 INDYCAR Rookie of the Year after a best-finish of second in the Gallagher Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July and best start of third in the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix of Nashville in August.

Ed Carpenter Racing has launched an in-house driver development program featuring teenager Josh Pierson. The 16-year-old will continue his path through the Road to Indy ranks with the intent of competing in the IndyCar Series in 2025 with ECR.

A native of Oregon, Pierson will be mentored by team-owner and oval-track specialist Ed Carpenter. Additionally, Pierson will begin testing one of ECR’s Chevrolet-powered cars in 2023.

“I have truly enjoyed getting to know Josh Pierson and his family,” said Carpenter, the only active owner/driver in the series. “For such a young man, he’s already accomplished so much in his racing career.  Along with that, he’s such a well-spoken and professional person. I’m confident with the plan that we have in place he will develop into a complete racing driver. We very much look forward to working with him as we finalize his path to the NTT IndyCar Series starting in 2025.”

After a decade of karting experience with numerous championships and national titles, Pierson began racing open-wheel cars at age 13. At 14 and 15 he was the youngest driver on the grid in the Road to Indy’s USF2000. In early 2022, he became the youngest driver to participate in IMSA’s Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Two months later, Pierson emerged as youngest race-winner in the FIA’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) with a victory at the 1000 Miles of Sebring.

As of June of 2022, he is the youngest starter in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and finished 10th overall. Pierson recently concluded his 2022 WEC season with a second place at Bahrain, third in the championship standings and was named WEC’s equivalent of Rookie of the Year.

“I’m honored by the confidence Ed Carpenter has placed in me and so incredibly grateful to have a path to INDYCAR with Ed Carpenter Racing,” Pierson said. “I’ve been dreaming about racing in the NTT IndyCar Series for as long as I can remember.”

Indeed, a seat in INDYCAR is the end game of Pierson’s five-year program. For the next two years, he will focus on INDY NXT by Firestone, formerly known as Indy Lights. INDY NXT is the final step on the Road to Indy ladder. With plans for a partial season in 2023, he will challenge for the INDY NXT championship in 2024 as he races the full calendar.

The 2023 race season will see Pierson build upon his experience in multiple disciplines, competing in both U.S.-based and international series. Stateside, he will compete in a partial INDY NXT schedule with HMD Motorsports. He also will aim to continue his endurance racing success in LMP2 with United Autosports, competing across the globe in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

As part of his development driver program with ECR, Pierson will begin testing one of the team’s Chevrolet-powered cars in 2023. Pierson made his INDY NXT testing debut on Oct. 21 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course with HMD Motorsports. 

ECR will continue to campaign two full-time INDYCAR entries in 2023 _ the No. 20 Chevrolet driven by Conor Daly and Dutchman Rinus VeeKay’s No. 21 Chevrolet. Carpenter will join Daly and VeeKay for the series’ four oval races, expanding ECR’s lineup to three cars for those events.

Andretti Autosport has signed Jamie Chadwick, a three-time W Series Champion, to compete in the 2023 INDY NXT by Firestone season. Chadwick will make her American racing series debut in the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Dallara and become the first female in 13 years to compete full-time in the INDY NXT championship.

The British racing driver joined the female free-to-enter championship W Series during its inaugural season in 2019. Chadwick scored two race wins and three podiums en route to the 2019 W Series Championship. Chadwick added the 2021 and 2022 W Series Championships, while also being named a Formula One Reserve Driver for Williams Racing. Chadwick will remain part of the Williams Racing Driver Academy in 2023 with an enhanced role to be announced soon.

“I’m hugely excited to be joining Andretti Autosport for the 2023 INDY NXT season with DHL,” said Chadwick, a 24-year-old native of Bath, United Kingdom. “My aim is always to challenge myself and continue my progression as a driver and this represents not only a big step up but also a big step toward my goal of competing in the highest categories of single-seater racing. Andretti Autosport’s standing in the sport is second to none and I hope to bring more success to such a prestigious team. I can’t wait to get started.”

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside (sponsor) DHL for the 2023 INDY NXT season,” said Michael Andretti, CEO/chairman of the organization. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but INDY NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing. We’ve turned out five INDY NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Andretti Autosport, a pioneer in driver development, views Jamie’s signing as an important step  for young women in the male-dominated racing environment.

“DHL are proud to partner with Jamie as she takes the next progressive step in her motorsports career,” said Mike Parra, CEO, DHL Express Americas.

Chadwick’s first race with Andretti Autosport will be on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., for the 2023 INDY NXT season-opener March 3-5, 2023. Chadwick joins Andretti Autosport INDY NXT teammates Hunter McElrea (No. 27 Dallara) and Louis Foster (No. 26 Dallara) and becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United Extreme E.

Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1995) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y.) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service, Ford Racing and Used Car Dealer magazine).


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, December 1 2022
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