It’s nearly time to flip the calendar to February, which means the latest NTT INDYCAR SERIES season is nearing.
This week, 27 NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers will converge on The Thermal Club in Thermal, California, for a full-field open test Thursday and Friday, Feb. 2-3.
It’s the series’ first preseason open test since the 2020 test at Circuit of the Americas and INDYCAR’s first appearance at The Thermal Club, a private, world-class facility located just outside Palm Springs, California. The 470-acre property opened in 2012 and is known as a premier circuit for club racers and sports car enthusiasts.
The Thermal Club Open Test – held on an INDYCAR-specific 17-turn, 2.9-mile layout combining the North and South Palm circuits – is the first of three full-field NTT INDYCAR SERIES tests in 2023.
The 17-race NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opens March 5 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on the city streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. The race will be telecast at noon ET by NBC.
Drivers will be on track at Thermal from 9-11:30 a.m. PT and 1:30-4:30 p.m. PT both days.
Here are a few things to look for at the Thermal Open Test:
On the Move: The test will be the first time to see some of the new driver/team combinations for 2023, including 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi moving to Arrow McLaren as part of an expanded three-car lineup alongside Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist.
Rising star Kyle Kirkwood moved to Andretti Autosport, taking Rossi’s former car, while Santino Ferrucci returns to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES full-time driving the famed No. 14 of AJ Foyt Racing. The other Foyt entry, the No. 55, will be driven by one of four rookies who will race in 2023 – INDY NXT by Firestone graduate Benjamin Pedersen.
Another INDY NXT graduate, 2022 INDY NXT by Firestone championship runner-up Sting Ray Robb, landed a ride with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR. Argentine touring car standout Agustin Canapino joins an expanded Juncos Hollinger Racing effort alongside Callum Ilott. New Zealand’s Marcus Armstrong moves from Europe to drive road/street events for Chip Ganassi Racing. Armstrong will share the entry with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato, who will race ovals in 2023.
Power Play: For the first time since 2015, Team Penske’s Will Power arrives at the preseason test as the defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion.
Two-time series champion Power made history in 2022 by becoming INDYCAR’s all-time qualifying king, winning his record-setting 68th pole in September at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, where he also clinched the title.
Power will look for more history by becoming the first to repeat as champion since Dario Franchitti won three in a row from 2009-11.
Test Coverage on INDYCAR’s Channels: INDYCAR’s digital channels are the go-to source for Thermal Open Test coverage. A robust compilation of content over the two days of testing includes:
- Live timing and scoring on INDYCAR Mobile Powered by NTT DATA and http://RaceControl.INDYCAR.com
- Preview video featuring the driver Track Walk and breakdowns of The Thermal Club’s 2.9-mile layout.
- Numerous driver interviews and reports from the pit lane and NTT INDYCAR SERIES paddock.
- Video recaps and highlights following every on-track session.
- Onboard footage from every session.
Twitter: @IndyCar, @ThermalClub #ThermalClubTest, #INDYCAR
Instagram: @IndyCar, @thethermalclub #ThermalClubTest, #INDYCAR
Facebook: @IndyCar, #ThermalClubTest, #INDYCAR
TikTok: @IndyCar, #ThermalClubTest #INDYCAR
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
It also will be a busy week for NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers and teams before they turn a lap Thursday and Friday at The Thermal Club.
The series’ annual Content Days are taking place Tuesday and Wednesday in Palm Springs, California. Drivers will pose for photographs and videos for INDYCAR and sponsors, perform promotional duties for tracks and sponsors, and be interviewed by NBC, the INDYCAR Radio Network and other media as the buildup toward the season opener at St. Petersburg shifts into top gear.