Marcus Armstrong

Expect more promising results to come from Marcus Armstrong in 2023.

Eric Cowdin, engineer of Armstrong’s No. 11 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, thinks there are great things ahead as NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Armstrong continues his growth contesting the road and street circuits on the calendar.

In only Armstrong’s second career start, he delivered an unassuming drive from the 12th starting spot to finish eighth – his first-ever top 10 in North America’s premier open-wheel championship – in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16.

The result came after the 22-year-old New Zealander was challenged with hitting a fuel number to extend his final stint, which began after making his last pit stop on Lap 53 of 85.

“Yeah, what you never actually get a true practice of is a fuel savings stint,” Cowdin said. “And there was a lot of that going on out here just to make it to the end of the race. Everybody's trying to hit a specific number depending on when they made their last stop. But Marcus’ experience in tire management, he's able to hit a fuel number, he was able to basically execute on what we were asking him to do. That's just more experience, and it’s just going to pay more dividends down the road.”

For his part, Armstrong, who fell in love with the “unbelievable” 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit, had a job that was made simple due to the team’s car setup and performance.

“It was good,” said Armstrong, a four-time winner in FIA Formula 2. “The car was mega, like properly mega. I’m so pleased for my guys because I have an easy job out there driving a Ganassi car. It's really, really great. We probably didn't smash the strategy out of the park, but from a pace point of view and performance, we had everything. So, good points on the board.”

Veteran engineer Cowdin recognizes how quickly Armstrong has adapted to a variety of new elements in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, including managing the different Firestone tire compounds and also managing traffic in the ultra-tight confines of two street races to start his season.

“Every race he gets out of the car, I tease him,” Cowdin said. “I say, ‘Imagine if you knew this morning what you know now.’ And for a rookie, that's how the process goes.”

Unlike after the season opener in St. Petersburg, Florida, Armstrong won’t have to sit on the sidelines for six weeks to get back into the cockpit of his race car. This time around, it will only be a brief gap of one weekend off as he returns for this Sunday’s Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix powered by AmFirst at Barber Motorsports Park (3 p.m. ET Sunday, NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE, INDYCAR Radio Network).

The 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course should play right into the comfort zone of Armstrong’s skillset, Cowdin said.

“I think from the street courses, he's got a little bit of experience with those, but European street courses aren’t exactly what we have here,” Cowdin said. “When we get to the road courses, I think that's where he's really going to shine. Looking forward to Barber, the Indy (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) road course. Those more traditional European style of circuits are going to fall right into this lap. He's really going to shine.”