Scott Dixon

As anticipation builds for the final three races of the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season at World Wide Technology Raceway, Portland International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, an important step toward the 2024 season was made this week at Sebring International Raceway.

For the first time on track, the 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engines used by NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars were paired with their hybrid components in a successful, extensive two-day test Aug. 16-17 under extreme conditions in central Florida.

Two-time and reigning INDYCAR SERIES champion Will Power drove the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet while six-time series champion Scott Dixon was behind the wheel of the No. 93 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Using the eight-turn, 1.7-mile “short course” at Sebring, both drivers combined to pound out over 800 laps and approximately 1,400 miles to put the INDYCAR SERIES engines with hybrid technology to tests they’ll see in competition starting in 2024.

Deployment of extra horsepower, which simulates the current INDYCAR overtake (“push-to-pass”) system, came after the hybrid units were regenerated under braking elsewhere on the track. Manual and automatic regeneration techniques were tested.

The new hybrid technology will provide up to an additional 150 horsepower.

“I’m always excited to try something new,” Power said. “I’ve been a big part of the testing of the new hybrid – running on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course without regeneration power like we’re running here. It’s going very smoothly. We’ve had no issues, and now we’ve added the regen to the power side of it. Everything is going as the engineers expected.”

Turning laps in 90-degree temperatures and high humidity were added challenges successfully scaled by the new components. Both days also featured running in wet conditions after typical Florida afternoon rainstorms hit the track.

Dixon has helped to develop the 2024 powerplant since fall 2022, with extensive testing behind the wheel.

“The ground floor is not always what it’s cracked up to be,” Dixon said with a laugh. “You come to some test days – especially at the start – and you sit around and try to figure out what’s next and understand what improvements need to be made. You did very few miles then.

“Today is when you come in and run 600 miles on a street course or a road course, which is pretty hefty. It’s in a great phase now.”

Development of the 2024 engine package continues in a unique, collaborative effort between Chevrolet and Honda. The sound coming from the race cars is unchanged. The powerplant is unique to INDYCAR, with a hybrid unit small enough to fit inside the bell housing.

“For both manufacturers – I know for Honda – it’s a huge push to be relative to what they produce in their road cars,” Dixon said. “This will bring in new technology that will trickle down.

“Much lighter, compact units, which will be better for the future. It’s all about efficiency, to have less emissions and make it better for road cars. Even what INDYCAR has done with their partners like Shell (100% Renewable Race Fuel) – all of this is heading in the right direction for the future.”

Teams and drivers already are discussing how the added horsepower and efficiency of the hybrid units will affect race strategy and planning. Testing will continue throughout the fall and winter.

“A lot of things to be decided, but ultimately you can have more power all of the time, which would be good,” Power said. “We all love more horsepower. I think you want the most regen that you can have and use the engine to its max. It’s exciting.”

Said Dixon: “It will change the strategy, especially if you have to regen and you’re being attacked and it’s going to be hard to regen. It’s going to add a different dynamic. Not only from a strategy but for the person in the seat. You have to be thinking pretty quickly and making the right decision at the right time, which will make the racing even more spicy, which will be pretty cool.”

The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES event is the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline on Sunday, Aug. 27 at World Wide Technology Raceway, the last oval race of the season. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Will Power Scott Dixon