Today’s question: AJ Foyt Racing recently added Benjamin Pedersen and Santino Ferrucci to its driver lineup for the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Also in new seats for next year are Alexander Rossi at Arrow McLaren SP and Kyle Kirkwood at Andretti Autosport. Acknowledging that there are still car-and-driver announcements to be made – the second seat at Juncos Hollinger Racing comes to mind – which of the four confirmed changes most intrigues you at this point in the offseason?
Curt Cavin: I expect Rossi to be strong in the Arrow McLaren SP seat, so I’m going to avoid that one for the purpose of this discussion. To me, Kirkwood will be the one to watch next season as his results in 2022 didn’t match the hype we expected of him given consecutive series titles in USF2000, Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights. He finished in the top 15 only three times in 17 races, and he had at least seven races that ended with contact. Obviously, Ferrucci and Foyt will be an intriguing combination in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, and I’m interested to hear what Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger do with their second car -- that could be the team that takes a big jump in 2023. But for now, my attention is on Kirkwood in the No. 27 Honda.
Joey Barnes: I am definitely intrigued to see what Kirkwood can do. That said, the Santino Ferrucci and AJ Foyt Racing combination has my attention. Sometimes you just see something come together, and there is just a feeling like, “OK, that fits.” I think that is the case with Ferrucci joining Foyt. With the Dallas resident being two years removed from being a full-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver, spending the majority of the time growing his racecraft in other areas like the Chili Bowl Nationals and NASCAR, along with the random Indianapolis 500 starts or super-sub duty, there’s a lot to be curious about with his full-time return. Additionally, Ferrucci is only 24 years old even with all that experience. Bottom line, he has taken situations not fit for him and moved forward on race day. Now, with a team building setups around him – and rookie teammate Benjamin Pedersen – they really could be a group to pull off some magic in 2023. It’s an outfit of underdogs, and I think that’s exactly the situation that plays into Ferrucci’s fiery personality and driving style.
Paul Kelly: The dynamic of Alexander Rossi joining Arrow McLaren SP intrigues the hell out of me. How will he adapt to just the second team of his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career after spending his first seven seasons at Andretti Autosport? How will he adjust to a Chevrolet engine after seven years powered by a Honda? How will he adapt to having just two teammates’ data instead of three? O’Ward is an entrenched race winner at AMSP and the driver around whom the team was built. Rosenqvist enjoyed a very strong second half of 2022 and appears to enter 2023 with momentum and confidence bred by his results and McLaren’s decision not to ship him to Formula E. Everyone presumed Rossi’s troubles since finishing second and third in the standings in consecutive seasons in 2018-19 were due to Andretti’s struggles as a team since 2020. And Rossi reminded everyone of his talent by winning the Gallagher Grand Prix last July at IMS to end a 49-race streak without a victory. But Rossi will be under a bright spotlight all next season during his first year at AMSP. He must deliver, which probably consists of at least one win and contending for the title.