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IndyCar 2023 season review: Dale Coyne Racing

The combination of Joey Barnes and Nick Degroot provide their respective thoughts in a team-by-team breakdown of the 2023 season in the IndyCar Series. This time, the duo look at Dale Coyne Racing.

David Malukas, Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Honda

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

#18 – David Malukas, 17th in championship standings (265 points) – 17 races

  • 0 wins, 1 podium, 2 top fives, 6 top 10s, 0 poles, 2 Fast Six Appearances
  • Best Finish: 3rd (Gateway)
  • Best Start: 3rd (Iowa – Race 2)

#51 – Sting Ray Robb, 23rd in championship standings (147 points) – 17 races

  • 0 wins, 0 podiums, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 0 poles, 0 Fast Six Appearances
  • Best Finish: 12th (Laguna Seca)
  • Best Start: 16th (St. Petersburg)

Joey Barnes: One of the key components that was semi-new to the team was Alex Athanasiadis going from a performance engineer for Malukas in 2022 to his race engineer this past season. It allowed for some continuity for the young driver, but also presented some areas of struggle. That said, given the resources of Dale Coyne Racing compared to other organizations, it was impressive to see the quality performances when everything hit right on a race weekend.

Malukas came out of the gate with two top 10s, including a late charge to fourth at Texas that had you wondering if he could have won it if the caution doesn’t come out for a spinning Romain Grosjean with two laps to go. Six consecutive finishes of 19th or worse after showed just how quickly you can be humbled in the IndyCar Series, but four top 10s in the remaining nine rounds helped put a positive mark on a tough season.

Nearly 120 points behind Malukas in the overall standings was rookie team-mate Sting Ray Robb, who failed to collect a top 10 but did close out the year with a 12th in the chaotic and lowly season finale at Laguna Seca.

Knowing how limited the resources are, there wasn't a heavy amount of expectation for top 10s in the #51 entry partnered by Rick Ware Racing (the #18 was partnered by HMD) for anyone, let alone a rookie. So, with that, Robb performed about as expected. If there was one key area that I felt he really struggled with, it was finding the pace in qualifying to try and be among the top 20. It will be intriguing to see what Robb feels he will be able to accomplish at Foyt, but I am equally invested in seeing Malukas at Arrow McLaren as well as who Coyne chooses to fill his two cars for 2024.

Sting Ray Robb, Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

Sting Ray Robb, Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda

Nick Degroot: Malukas did a fine job in showcasing Dale Coyne Racing's potential in several races over the course of the 2023 season. On the ovals especially, Malukas managed to bring that car to the front of the field and even score a podium at Gateway. It was no fluke, as he also showed speed at Texas and Iowa.

Although ovals appear to be where Coyne is at its strongest, Malukas also impressed on various street and road courses. Performance-wise, Coyne seemed to be similar to where they were at in 2022, perhaps even a step behind with Sting Ray Robb failing to score a single top-10.

But this traditionally midfield team has always had a tendency to capture lightning in a bottle and should never be underestimated. They are a steppingstone for many drivers and a place where new talent often shows what they're capable of before moving on to other opportunities.

However, with that being said, what Coyne needs more than anything is a strong, stable driver line-up. The cars can compete, but only with the right driver behind the wheel. Unfortunately, it's December and there's still no official word on who will drive for Coyne in 2024. Malukas has moved on to McLaren, and Robb will join Foyt.

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