Scott Dixon Will Power

Note: The Penske Entertainment editorial staff is looking back at the 10 biggest moments of 2023 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in this year-end series, with one installment appearing on the site per day in countdown fashion from Dec. 22-31.

The 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season featured a documentary series (“100 Days to Indy”) and the best TV ratings in over a decade. A big reason for those numbers is drama, which seemed to surround every race, usually after an incident involving contact on track. For a series as competitive as they come, with such tight margins and cars running so closely to each other, cars are bound to make contact from time to time.

Contact creates chaos, and chaos intrigues. There was plenty of it to offer in 2023.

The clash between Romain Grosjean and Scott McLaughlin with 29 laps to go in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding set the tone for a captivating 2023 season.

McLaughlin eyed a repeat trip to victory lane on the streets of St. Pete. Grosjean was after his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES win. After the pair made their final pit stops of the day, neither gave an inch and both found each other while battling side-by-side into a one groove corner on Lap 71, ending up in the tire barrier and ending both of their chances of victory.

Two races later, at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, two unlikely drivers had a clash. Pato O’Ward and Scott Dixon had an intense battle which left Dixon in the tire barrier and an early end to his day. In a series where every inch matters, this incident was a byproduct of that intense competition.

O’Ward and Dixon both disagreed on where to place the blame, especially in one of the most intense, “fly on the wall” scenes of the “100 Days to Indy” docuseries. Dixon thought O’Ward’s maneuver was never going to work. O’Ward thought it did and called Dixon a “baby” in the process.

A few weeks later, there was a sequel for Grosjean and McLaughlin. Both had another intense on-track battle in the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park while going for the victory in the fourth race of the season. Once again, the intense competition between the two came after final pit stop for which McLaughlin went hard on Grosjean for the top spot. Both were on opposite pit strategies, and both were running 1-2 coming to the final stint.

This time, the racing was intense – just like at St. Pete – but there was no contact, and McLaughlin won by 1.7854 seconds.

A month later, O’Ward had a run-in with Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson with eight laps remaining in the Indy 500. O’Ward lambasted Ericsson, claiming the Swede squeezed him on track.

June was just as explosive with Grosjean and McLaughlin Round III. They had another run-in during the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear on the Streets of Detroit for which McLaughlin blamed Grosjean for again running into him.

That was the nature of the 2023 season. Road rage incidents even happened in practice.

A prime example of this came in the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America presented by AMR. Despite being the longest track on the schedule, three drivers found each other in practice around the 4.014-mile road course in the scenic Wisconsin Dells.

Grosjean was weaving on track to keep Will Power behind because he wanted clean air for a hot lap. Dixon, while driving ahead, moved over in Canada Corner to let Grosjean pass. Dixon didn’t see Power coming. A frightening, high-speed collision between the two INDYCAR SERIES champions occurred.

Power quickly climbed out of his badly damaged No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and used both hands to show his displeasure with Dixon. He later blasted Dixon after failing to make it out of the first round of qualifying later that afternoon.

“Just pissed for what Dixon did this morning,” Power said after qualifying a disappointing 22nd. “It’s ruined our weekend.”

Power’s car was rebuilt between the two sessions, but due to just a brief break between them, the team just didn’t have enough time to dial the car to advance out of the first round. A frustrated Power then aired his grievances against Grosjean.

“And Grosjean is a piece of crap,” Power said. “He needs a punch in the face.”

There were other flashpoints later in the season, such as aggravation between McLaughlin and David Malukas as they dueled up front late in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline on the close quarters of the World Wide Technology Raceway oval.

These moments and many others helped to make the 2023 season so memorable.