IndyCar: 3 overreactions from the first three races of 2023

Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)
Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images) /
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Three races into the 17-race 2023 IndyCar season, there is still a lot we don’t know about where teams and drivers stand.

With this year’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach behind us, three of the 17 races on the 2023 IndyCar schedule are in the books.

There is still one more race before the series heads to the Racing Capital of the World for official on-track action, starting with the road course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 13 and concluding with the 107th running of the Indy 500 on Sunday, May 28.

But with the Indy 500 open test taking place this week, it’s hard to argue that there isn’t an element of focus that is already on the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, even with a race at Barber Motorsports Park scheduled for Sunday, April 30.

With the focus starting to shift, what have we learned from the first stage of this season? Here are three overreactions.

3 IndyCar overreactions: No. 1 – Kyle Kirkwood is a title favorite

There is little doubt that Kyle Kirkwood will contend for additional race wins after winning on the streets of Long Beach from the pole position in just his third start with Andretti Autosport.

But can he put together a championship campaign in his first season with his new team, a team that hasn’t won a title in more than a decade? Alex Palou pulled off something similar in 2021, when he joined Chip Ganassi Racing after a rookie season with Dale Coyne Racing and Team Goh, but Chip Ganassi Racing had won four of the last eight titles at the time.

It’s hard to do, and it requires an element of consistency that Kirkwood hasn’t yet shown. His start is almost exactly like Mike Conway’s start in 2011. He made it into the Firestone Fast Six in his first start with Andretti Autosport on the streets of St. Petersburg before being taken out of contention in both that race and the following race, and he won the next race in Long Beach.

Kirkwood’s win was just his second career top 10 finish, and the other one also came in Long Beach when he competed for A.J. Foyt Enterprises as a rookie last year. The 24-year-old Floridian has immense potential, but it’s hard to see him winning his first Astor Cup this soon.