Sato To Drive Ovals For Chip Ganassi Racing in ’23

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 19 2023

Takuma Sato is back in an Indy car for the upcoming season.

INDYCAR’s “Taku” will turn left exclusively during 2023, his debut season with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Takuma Sato, a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion, will drive CGR’s No. 11 Honda in the NTT IndyCar Series’ five oval-track races, with Marcus Armstrong competing in the 12 road and street-course events.

Sato brings more than two decades of open-wheel experience to CGR, which won the 106th running of the Indy 500 last May with Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson. CGR has won 14 INDYCAR championships, including nine across the past 15 seasons under the guidance of team-owner Ganassi and Managing Director Mike Hull.

“First of all, I would like to thank Chip and Mike for helping put this all together,” Sato said in a team release from Indianapolis. “The organization has been at the top of our sport for decades and needless to say, extremely competitive. Focusing on the oval races is a new chapter for me but I’m thrilled to have the ability to race with team members and teammates that have won the championships and Indianapolis 500 in the past, which is a tremendous advantage. I just can’t wait to get started.”

Sato has competed in INDYCAR the past 13 seasons, earning six wins, 14 podiums and 10 pole positions. A native of Tokyo, Sato’s 215 career INDYCAR starts are sixth-most among active drivers and 22nd all-time.

“What a terrific opportunity to have Takuma Sato drive our No. 11 Honda on the ovals in 2023,” Hull said. “He is a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner who contributes with the experience of knowing how to win, by matching the strength of his three teammates, which equals four who race as one. Chip Ganassi Racing looks forward to the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500.”

CGR’s fulltime lineup in 2023 features six-time series champion Scott Dixon of New Zealand, winner of the Indy 500 in 2008; 2021 series champion Alex Palou of Spain and reigning Indy 500 champ Ericsson.

Sato, who will turn 46 on Jan. 26, is the most recent driver to score multiple Indy 500 victories. Sato won the 2017 edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” driving for Andretti Autosport. Re-claiming the lead from then three-time Indy 500 champ Helio Castroneves of Brazil with six laps to go, Sato became the first Japanese driver to win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sato posted his second Indy 500 victory driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing during the COVID-19 delayed edition in August 2020 after starting from the front row in P3 in the traditional field of 33.

Sato exited RLLR at the end of his fifth season with the organization in 2021 to join Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing for the 2022 campaign. Sato replaced Frenchman Romain Grosjean, a former Formula One regular who left DCR for Andretti Autosport. Sato finished 25th in the 106th edition of the Indy 500 last May.

Sato is working on a two-year winless streak that includes no podium finishes in 33 starts. He ranked 19th among series regulars last year with an average starting position of 14.6 and average finish of 16.0. Sato led 33 of the 2,018 laps he completed in Coyne’s Honda-powered Dallaras.

Prior to his INDYCAR career, Sato raced in the FIA’s F1 World Championship for seven seasons (2002-08). He earned 44 points with one podium appearance across 90 career starts. Sato registered a top-10 finish in the F1 point standings in 2004, posting his podium in the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sato also won the British Formula 3 championship in 2001, earning 12 wins as well as victories in the Marlboro Masters of F3 at Zandvoort, and the prestigious Macau F3 GP.


A.J. Foyt Racing has revamped the engineering staff that will work with veteran Santino Ferrucci and rookie Benjamin Pederson during the 2023 season.

Championship-winning engineer Michael Cannon, formerly of Chip Ganassi Racing, will reunite with Ferrucci. A native of Canada, Cannon will lead Foyt’s engineering group as well as oversee Ferrucci’s race-day efforts. Cannon, who exited CGR in November 2022, has previous experience with Andretti Autosport, Dale Coyne Racing _ where he worked with Ferrucci _ and Ed Carpenter Racing. Cannon will report to Team President Larry Foyt.

Cannon replaces Mike Colliver, who engineered Foyt’s signature No. 14 Chevrolet-powered Dallara with Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais and 2022 series rookie Kyle Kirkwood. Longtime Foyt employee Daniele Cucchiaroni will work as Pederson’s race engineer.

Scott Harner, Foyt’s veteran VP of Operations, left the organization at the end of the 2022 season. Larry Foyt replaced Harner with Indy Lights veteran Craig Brooks, who began his role as team manager in November. Brooks oversees the team’s Indianapolis and Waller, Texas, shops. Chris Sheffer is Foyt’s Indiana shop manager. The team also hired six new mechanics, according to a report on Racer.com.


The 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28, headlines NBC Sports exclusive coverage of the 2023 schedule. The tour features 13 races on the NBC broadcast network and streaming of every event on Peacock, including one exclusive presentation.

For just the fourth time in the last 50 years, INDYCAR will have 13 or more races carried on network television in the United States. The total appearances on broadcast TV become 15 with the addition of PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying coverage, Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21, ahead of the 107th Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The first seven events of 2023 will be featured on NBC, including “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on the 2.5-mile IMS oval on May 28. The season will finish with six of the final seven races on network television. The 2023 season will include three races on USA Network, and for the second consecutive year, one exclusive event on Peacock.

Peacock will present live simulstreams of all races on NBC and USA Network, as well as live coverage of all qualifying and practice sessions.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 season was the most-watched campaign in six years and most-watched across NBC Sports on record. Powered by NBCUniversal’s streaming service, Peacock, the 2022 season also was the most-streamed season on record.

Half of the 2022 season’s 16 races on TV featured a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of more than 1-million viewers, the highest mark since 2008. Last year’s season-opener on the Streets of St. Pete in Florida was the most-watched opener in 11 years.

Drivers will compete in seven road-course races, five street-circuit events and in five oval-track races.

After the 2023 season opens for the 13th time in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, March 5, North America’s premier open-wheel racing series will return to Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth on Sunday, April 2, for the 36th event at “The Great American Speedway.” Once again, the TMS event is the only oval-track scheduled before practice and qualifying for the 107th edition of the Indy 500.

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach follows with its traditional mid-April date on Sunday, April 16. It will be the 39th time INDYCAR has been featured on the iconic streets of Southern California as the event hosts its 48th edition.

Barber Motorsports Park will play host to its 13th INDYCAR race on Sunday, April 30, before the series moves into the traditional Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway _ the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 13; Indy 500 qualifying weekend, Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21 and the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 28.

The traditional early June date for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix returns in 2023, but at a new site. The debut of the Streets of Detroit circuit _ a move to the downtown site from its previous location at Belle Isle Park _ is booked for Sunday, June 4. A nine-turn/1.7-mile street circuit will provide unprecedented access with more than half of the event’s footprint open to the public. The relocated layout also represents a connection to the event’s heritage, which began on the downtown streets of the Motor City in 1982.

USA Network will carry the early-summer swing on the classic road-courses of the Sonsio Grand Prix presented by AMR at Road America, Sunday, June 18, and The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, which returns for another Fourth of July weekend on Sunday, July 2. Road America will present the teams with a newly repaved 4.048-mile layout. Mid-Ohio matches Long Beach as it hosts INDYCAR for the 39th year.

The schedule hits its stride with eight races in the final nine weeks. Peacock will provide an exclusive presentation of the Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday, July 16, the series’ annual appearance in Canada’s largest city. After that stop, six of the final seven races will be carried on NBC broadcast TV.

That stretch will include the Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend and the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. The doubleheader at Iowa Speedway in Newton _ billed as “The Fastest Short Track on The Planet” _ is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, July 22-23.

INDYCAR will return to the Streets of Nashville on Sunday, Aug. 6. Last year’s race in the Music City featured the closest street-circuit finish in INDYCAR history, as six-time series champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing edged Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske by a margin of 0.1067-seconds.

With the Brickyard Weekend returning to a traditional August date, the NASCAR/INDYCAR tripleheader on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course will present the NTT IndyCar Series’ Gallagher Grand Prix on Saturday, Aug. 12, on USA Network.

The season will conclude with three races on three consecutive weekends _ all on NBC _ beginning with the final oval event at World Wide Technology Raceway for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 on Sunday, Aug. 27.

From there, it’s the traditional two-race/West Coast Swing starting at Portland International Raceway and the newly repaved WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in California. The 29th Grand Prix of Portland is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 3, while the 2023 champion will be crowned and receive the Astor Challenge Cup at the 26th Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sunday, Sept. 10.

“We have worked hard to achieve date and venue equity, which has been an ongoing goal,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “We are excited to return to downtown Detroit, and the repaves at Road America and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will add new challenges for the drivers and teams. The intensity level will also be at an all-time high as we conclude the season with three weekends in a row.

“As we build off the record-breaking 2022 season, we could not be more enthusiastic to see how 2023 unfolds.”



Sunday, March 5 _ Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., NBC/Peacock

Sunday, April 1 _ Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, April 16 _ Streets of Long Beach, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, April 30 _ Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala., NBC/Peacock

Saturday, May 13 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, May 28 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Oval, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, June 4 _ Streets of Detroit, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, June 18 _ Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis., USA Network/Peacock

Sunday, July 2 _ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio. USA Network/Peacock

Sunday, July 16 _ Streets of Toronto, Peacock

Saturday, July 22 _ Iowa Speedway, Newton, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, July 23 _ Iowa Speedway, Newton, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, Aug. 6 _ Streets of Nashville, NBC/Peacock

Saturday, Aug. 12 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course, USA Network/Peacock

Sunday, Aug. 27 _World Wide Technology Raceway, Madison, Ill., NBC/Peacock

Sunday, Sept. 3 _ Portland (Ore.) International Raceway, NBC/Peacock

Sunday, Sept. 10 _ WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif., NBC/Peacock

(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, January 19 2023
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