Autoweek’s 10 bold predictions for the 2024 IndyCar season

By | March 5, 2024

2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

10 Bold Predictions for the 2024 IndyCar SeasonGreg Doherty – Getty Images

Autoweek has been digging into this season and what we can expect – or not expect – and here’s what we’ve come up with, a little ditty we’re calling “10 Bold Predictions for IndyCar in 2024”:

Alex Palou will not win the 2024 championship

Although he has won two of the last three IndyCar championships, we predict Alex Palou will struggle in 2024.

No driver, no matter how good he is, can keep up the pace that Palou has achieved over the past three seasons, especially what he did in 2023, a career year for him with five wins, ten podiums and two poles, all personal. highlights in one season.

Which brings us to who we think will be the 2024 IndyCar champion – and it won’t be Palou.

the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 practice and qualifyingthe 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 practice and qualifying

Justin Casterline – Getty Images

Scott Dixon will win a seventh championship

Scott Dixon may be 44 this year, but we’re confident he has at least one (and maybe even two) more championships left in him.

What got lost in all the Alex Palou excitement last year was the fact that Dixon ultimately won three of the last four races of the season (and finished third in the fourth race) and finished second to Palou. Had he managed to get a few wins earlier in the season, Dixon could have given Palou his money’s worth – that is, the championship money. And let’s face it, as good of a teammate as Dixon is, he must be a little tired of letting Palou get all the glory and admiration.

Dixon, whose sixth and most recent championship came in 2020, is poised to win a seventh championship in 2024 and prove why, despite everything Palou has done in recent seasons, the plucky New Zealander is still the best driver in the series is.

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Icon Sportswire – Getty Images

IndyCar will end its racing marriage with NBC

Dale Earnhardt Jr. may not be the only racing standout to leave NBC Sports.

We predict that IndyCar will take its broadcast package after the 2024 season and put NBC in its rearview mirror. In order, here are the people we think are the most likely favorites to televise IndyCar from 2025 and beyond: Fox Sports, ESPN, Apple or Amazon.

While some people have suggested The CW, we just don’t see it being a good fit for IndyCar’s demographics.

car October 1, NASCAR Cup Series Play-off Geelwood 500car October 1, NASCAR Cup Series Play-off Geelwood 500

Icon Sportswire – Getty Images

Scott McLaughlin becomes Penske’s No. 1 pick

Scott McLaughlin has done an excellent job since crossing the Pacific from his native New Zealand to make his fame and fortune in the IndyCar world.

A three-time Australian SuperCars champion, McLaughlin has done an excellent job adapting to IndyCar in his first three seasons in the series. He has four wins and 12 podiums and 2024 will be his time to break out of the shadows of his better-known Team Penske teammates, Josef Newgarden and Will Power, and make a statement of his own.

We can easily see McLaughlin not only succeeding defending Indianapolis 500 winner Newgarden as the 500 winner in 2024, but also giving guys like Palou, Dixon and Newgarden a stiff battle for the championship.

Another footnote: If McLaughlin or one of his teammates wins the 500, it will be Roger Penske’s twentieth as team owner.

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Icon Sportswire – Getty Images

Scott Dixon will win the Indianapolis 500

The Indianapolis 500 has seen several unexpected winners over the past eight races, starting with rookie Alexander Rossi’s win in the 100th running of the 500 in 2016, Takuma Sato’s unexpected wins in the 2017 and 2020 editions of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, Helio Castroneves’ record-breaking fourth 500 win in 2021, Marcus Ericsson’s unexpected victory in 2022 (and almost did it again in 2023), and Josef Newgarden finally winning what was long expected for him in 2023.

So who gets to drink milk in victory lane in Indy in 2024?

There are two guys we have in mind to battle to cross the finish line first, and they are both teammates: Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou and Scott Dixon. Palou has won two of the last three IndyCar championships, but has never claimed the sport’s biggest prize with a victory in the 500. Dixon, meanwhile, even though he has six seasons of championships, has come close several times, but has not won the 500 actually just won. once (2008).

Our prediction: Dixon and Palou will cross the finish line 1-2 in 2024.

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Icon Sportswire – Getty Images

Kyle Larson will finish in third place at the Indy 500

Speaking of the Indy 500, former NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Larson will realize a lifelong dream when he competes in the 108th running of the world’s biggest race – and then earn two wins in the same day just hours after the checkered flag. that evening in the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup race in Charlotte.

Yes, we’re talking about the biggest test of any race car driver, racing a total of 1,100 miles (not including overtime), the proverbial ‘The Double’, in the late morning and early afternoon in the 500 and then the 600 that evening . No driver has ever won even one of the two halves of The Double, let alone won both halves on the same day. What can we expect from Larson?

While he may be the best current driver when it comes to the overall versatility of driving in various series, including NASCAR and sprint car racing, IndyCar is a completely different animal. While Larson should be commended for being the first driver to attempt The Double since Kurt Busch in 2014, we unfortunately don’t see him finishing in the top 10 of the 500 – if he manages to finish at all.

Given Larson’s penchant for making unorthodox passes and where he likes to race on a track (such as driving on the high line along the outside wall), he could be an early exit from Indy if he and his car find themselves in the wrong spot on the wrong place. time. But there is one consolation: While Larson will likely finish in the bottom third of the 33 drivers at Indy, he can roar back with a strong finish in the 600 at Charlotte.

We can easily predict that he will finish in the top 5 in the evening’s final.

Kyle Larson indy carKyle Larson indy car

Penske Entertainment

Big rebound for Graham Rahal in Indianapolis

Graham Rahal failed to qualify for the Indy 500 last year for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. But amid that disappointment came an incredible twist of fate for Rahal, when Stefan Wilson crashed during practice and Rahal was named Wilson’s replacement for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, ultimately finishing 22nd.

This year we expect the younger Rahal to qualify in the top third of the 500 and, barring any incidents, we expect him to finish in the top 10, a dramatic recovery from how last year’s 500 performed both in qualifying as in the race itself. .

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Icon Sportswire – Getty Images

Santino Ferrucci will prove that the 2023 Indy 500 was no fluke

Santino Ferrucci shocked the IndyCar world when he finished third in last year’s Indianapolis 500, including leading 11 laps. Had he been able to hold the lead, Ferrucci might have claimed one of the biggest upsets in 500 history.

So if Ferrucci and AJ Foyt Racing came close to a win in the 500 in 2023, who’s to say they can’t do just as well – or maybe even better, finishing second or maybe even winning it all in 2024?

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IndyCar (and fans) will miss Downtown Nashville

While we wouldn’t wish bad things on any racetrack or promoter, the recent announcement that the season-ending race in Nashville has been moved from the streets of downtown Music City to a half-hour away at Nashville Superspeedway in suburban Lebanon will be a disappointing event, we think.

Maybe not so much on the racing surface of the 2.13 kilometer oval, but we predict that many fans who have already purchased tickets or were planning to purchase tickets for the downtown street race will not see a follow-the-leader style event want to see. which has historically been part of Nashville Superspeedway’s DNA, especially during the days it hosted the NASCAR Trucks and Xfinity Series.

The reason for the IndyCar race’s move to the Superspeedway is due to extensive construction downtown, including a new football stadium for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, as well as several related street infrastructure projects. While we hope IndyCar will be back in downtown Nashville in 2025, that most likely won’t happen until 2026 – or maybe even 2027 at the earliest.

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IndyCar goes international in 2025

This might be the boldest prediction of them all, and one we’ll save for last: Don’t be surprised if IndyCar announces at some point during this season that it will add an international race (or perhaps a few) to its 2025 schedule .

Locations likely to be included: Surfer’s Paradise on Australia’s Gold Coast, Brazil, Mexico City, Europe (most likely Britain or Germany) or Japan.

Considering how much Formula 1 has overrun IndyCar’s US home turf in Texas, Miami and Las Vegas in recent years, it’s time for IndyCar to fight back by hosting at least a few of its own races in the US’s own backyard. to drive F1.

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