From the time the checkered flag waved at the 2022 edition of the Indianapolis 500 to now, the IndyCar Series took to examining what it could do to make the oval-track racing package better, which usually means faster, closer and more exciting. But they also didn't want to make the racing easier — or too easy — because over the course of 500 miles it's still the supposed to be Brickyard, after all, and it's not supposed to be easy.
So for 2023, and the Indy 500 specifically, there is a new aero package that includes mandatory stability wickers, 3-degrees of more adjustability for the rear wing, an underwing flap wicker and optional underwing inner bargeboards. (Wickers, for those not familiar, can add downforce by increasing pressure on the pressure side of a wing, and decreasing pressure on the suction side.) In addition, IndyCar talked tire partner Bridgestone/Firestone into bringing a tire that also has a slightly higher degradation factor than previous variants of their tires, which are usually known for staying grippy far longer than expected.
"It's not big draggy wicker on the wing or anything," said Team Penske's Will Power in a media conference after he set the fastest time in Monday's practice. "It's the closest I've ever been able to run to a car at this place without an issue.
"It would be ridiculous to have enough downforce for everyone to pass, but the one thing there is, there's tire deg, so I think that will create good racing in the pack."
Pato O'Ward of Arrow McLaren SP disagrees, and told NBC Sports "the aero bits seem to have done nothing for racing. It's not ideal when you're running 10th or 11th in a pack, or even when you're sixth or seventh. You can't do anything."
Power explained that he believed the true difference-maker for Sunday's race will likely be the tire degradation, and explained that "the left sides are softer. They get vibrations more easily as the tire degrades. … I haven't had a set without a vibration yet. I've had a couple that have been massive and you have to pit, and I've had a couple – the last one I just did a full stint, but it's still [on] there. It's [completely] left-side – left-front and left-rear. Depends which slides more.
"I think it makes for better racing. … Yeah, on a good hot day, I think it'll be a good race."
How to watch the 107th Indianapolis 500
- Date: Sunday, March 28
- Location: 2.5-mile (4.02-kilometer), four-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Time: Sunday - 11 a.m. ET
- TV: NBC, Peacock, Universo
- Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
What to watch for
Speeds out of Friday's Carb Day, the traditional final practice for the Indy 500, had the usual suspects again at the top of the speed charts. Takuma Sato and Scott Dixon led a Chip Ganassi Racing 1-2, and Power was third quickest to go along with his fastest time out of Monday's practice. Carb Day was also a bit more aggressive than Monday, with many drivers going three-cars wide and taking things a little deeper into the turns than they had. Is that setting things up for a crazy Indy 500 on Sunday? Guess we'll have to watch to find out.
Carb Day speeds
- Takuma Sato, Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda, 227.885 mph
- Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda, 227.285
- Will Power, Team Penske, Chevrolet, 226.953
- Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda, 226.945
- Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport, Honda, 226.872
- Agustin Canapino, Juncos Hollinger, Honda, 226.532
- Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport, Honda, 226.300
- Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport, Honda, 226.286
- Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, Chevrolet, 226.766
- Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske, Chevrolet, 225.565
- Tony Kanaan, Arrow McLaren SP, Chevrolet, 225.400
- Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevrolet, 225.378
- Jack Harvey, Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan, Honda, 225.251
- Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren SP, Chevrolet, 225.233
- Pato O'Ward, Arrow McLaren SP, Chevrolet, 225.114
- David Malukas, Dale Coyne Racing, Honda, 225.019
- Benjamin Pedersen, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Chevrolet, 224.905
- Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda, 224.751
- Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport, Honda, 224.702
- Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing, Honda, 224.659
- Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevrolet, 224.627
- Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dreyer & Reinbold, Chevrolet, 224.519
- Sting Ray Robb, Dale Coyne Racing, Honda 224.158
- Simon Pagenaud, Meyer Shank Racing, Honda, 224.094
- Christian Lundgaard, Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan, Honda, 223.996
- Devlin DeFrancesco, Andretti Steinbrenner, Honda, 223.838
- RC Enerson, Abel Motorsports, Chevrolet, 223.814
- Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren SP, Chevrolet, 223.783
- Katherine Legge, Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan, Honda, 223.562
- Graham Rahal, Dreyer & Reinbold, Chevrolet, 223.491
- Santino Ferrucci, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Chevrolet, 223.444
- Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger, Honda, 222.265
- Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevrolet, 222.166