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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — After a winter layoff, IndyCar drivers both new and experienced are in Palm Springs, California this week as they prepare for the first open test session of the 2023 campaign.

The NTT IndyCar Series season kicks off in just over a month on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Drivers will turn laps both Thursday and Friday at the Thermal Club, a private road course just outside of Palm Springs.

“We liken this to a preseason scrimmage,” said IndyCar Series president Jay Frye. “The teams will be doing everything it takes to prepare for a run at the 2023 championship. The facility is spectacular, and I know everyone at The Thermal Club cannot wait to welcome our paddock.”

Will Power is coming off a successful campaign with Team Penske last season winning his second career NTT IndyCar Series championship. Marcus Ericsson, the defending champion of the Indianapolis 500, is bullish about the competition returning for the 2023 season.

“The competition in IndyCar is the best in the world,” Ericsson said at IndyCar Media Day. “You don’t find a racing series with that level of competition with drivers and teams, you know. Even breaking into the top ten is going to be hard (this year).”

“A lot of new faces. A lot, a lot of new faces,” said Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward. “I’m still in the process of learning all the names. It’s so cool to see, we’re all growing.”

The series will have 27 full-time entries this season, which is the highest number of full-time drivers since 2011

The IndyCar paddock is welcoming many new names to the grid including Sting Ray Robb (Dale Coyne/RWR) and Benjamin Pederson (AJ Foyt) from the ranks of Indy Lights (now the Indy NXT Series). Santino Ferrucci has landed a full-time ride with AJ Foyt as well along with Marcus Armstrong.

At Juncos-Hollinger Racing, Argentine driver Agustin Canapino is making the trip north.

This week’s test in California is not the only testing session the drivers will have this season. An Indy 500 open test on the oval of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is scheduled for April 20-21.