• Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson heads the time sheets for Honda and Chip Ganassi Racing in NTT INDYCAR SERIES “Spring Training”
  • Honda drivers claim top three positions in full-field test at The Thermal Club
  • 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES opens March 5 in St. Petersburg, Florida

Honda-powered drivers and teams starred at NTT INDYCAR SERIES “Spring Training” at Southern California’s The Thermal Club, with Marcus Ericsson leading the full 27-driver field over two days of testing at the 2.9-mile Thermal circuit.  Second-year Honda driver Christian Lundgaard ran second quickest for Honda and his Rahal Letterman Lanigan team, with Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood rounding out the top three.

In addition, Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta, led both sessions in Thursday’s opening day of Spring Training, while Ericsson’s time on Friday morning was quickest for overall honors.  Completing a Honda sweep of all four practices, the final timed session was headed by Kirkwood.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES “Spring Training”

  •   1st Marcus Ericsson                 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
  •   2nd Christian Lundgaard           Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
  •   3rd  Kyle Kirkwood                   Andretti Autosport Honda
  •   5th Marcus Armstrong-R           Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
  •   7th Alex Palou                          Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
  • 10th Scott Dixon                         Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
  • 11th Simon Pagenaud                Meyer Shank Racing Honda
  • 14th Romain Grosjean                Andretti Autosport Honda
  • 15th Colton Herta                       Andretti Autosport Honda
  • 17th David Malukas                    Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Honda
  • 18th Helio Castroneves              Meyer Shank Racing Honda
  • 19th Devlin DeFrancesco            Andretti Autosport Honda
  • 20th Jack Harvey                       Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
  • 22nd Graham Rahal                   Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
  • 24th Sting Ray Robb-R               Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda

R – Rookie

Marcus Ericsson (#8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) quickest over two days of testing in INDYCAR Spring Training: “Yeah, it’s been two good days here at Thermal. For all of us, this was an important week, our only real test before the season opener in St. Pete. So we had quite an intensive testing program, and we went through all of it.  I feel like both Chip Ganassi Racing and Honda have done a good job over the winter.  But we need to keep pushing, trying to improve our package as a whole.  A good start, and I think we’re ready for St. Pete.”

Christian Lundgaard (#45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) second-quickest overall: “Honestly, it’s been a pretty good test, for both the Rahal crew and in general.  It’s been quite difficult as we’re not going to race here, while we’re trying to get as much knowledge as possible that will help us throughout the season.  We were very strong this morning in the cooler temperatures, but it’s just great to get back in the car and work with this [Rahal] team once more.”

Kyle Kirkwood (#27 Andretti Autosport Honda) third-quickest at the test: “Learned Thermal was quite a bit different than we expected, there was more grip than we thought would be here.  But really, these two days were about ‘knocking the rust off’, rather than trying to develop the car.  We had a few gremlins, and I put it in the gravel one time that lost us about an hour, but overall, we were fast.  I think a Honda led every single [practice] session, and that’s a real positive coming into the first race of the season.”

Colton Herta (#26 Andretti Autosport Honda) led both practice sessions in the first day of testing: “It’s nice to get everybody back together again, and it’s always nice to be back in California again.  Looking forward to St. Pete [the season opener], I think we’ve always brought great cars there.  I’ve had a podium and a win there in the past two years, so it’s been a track that’s been great for me.”

Marcus Armstrong (#11 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Series rookie, finished fifth overall at the test: “For a first test, it was great.  It was interesting.  I had to learn a new car, a new track, new people, new procedures, all that.  I felt like I worked well with the team, they understood what I wanted from the car and at the same time, I was learning from them, as they’ve won so many championships before.”

Kelvin Fu (Vice President, Honda Performance Development) on this week’s Spring Training test and the upcoming 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season: “It’s great to get the 2023 season started, and see all the men and women back in the INDYCAR paddock.  This test at The Thermal Club was great.  It’s an amazing facility, and served to highlight the premier North American open wheel racing series.  We came here with a lot of energy [following Acura’s win at last weekend’s Rolex 24]. You can see that our teams worked hard in the off-season, as did we.  ‘Winning practice’ in itself doesn’t mean much, but it does show that we have some fast cars and fast drivers ready for the season to begin next month in St. Petersburg.”

Fast Facts

  • This week’s INDYCAR Spring Training is the first such open test for the entire series since 2020; and marks INDYCAR’s first visit to The Thermal Club for an event of any type.
  • INDYCAR’s last previous Spring Training full-field test was held in 2020 at the Circuit of the Americas, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic reaching the United States.

The 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season gets underway March 5, with a return to the Florida Gulf Coast for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.