2022 Indycar Season Predictions


via INDYCAR

Written by the Divebomb Team, Edited by Harshi Vashee


The NTT Indycar series is set to premier at St. Petersburg this weekend, with all to play for the 28 drivers this season. Ahead of the season opener, our team took a look at the field of drivers and made some predictions about how we think the season will pan out. One thing’s for sure, there isn’t anything we can count on!


Champion


Morgan


Josef Newgarden - Newgarden and Penske have proven to be a formidable duo in Indycar over the past five seasons he has been with the team, and will likely make 2022 a sixth. Barring finishing fifth in the standings in 2018, his other four seasons with Penske he has finished either first or second. The question isn’t whether Newgarden has the ability to win his third Indycar title, it’s whether or not someone can stop him. While the fight will definitely be fierce at the top in the 2022 season between drivers like Palou, Herta, O’Ward, and others, I’m predicting that Newgarden will use his experience to become a third time Indycar champion in 2022.


Danny


Colton Herta - Herta was on fire toward the end of 2021, and I expect his form to carry across into 2022. On 4 occasions in 2021, Herta absolutely demolished the rest of the field, in Laguna Seca, St. Petersburg, Long Beach, and best of all, Nashville, until he crashed whilst chasing Marcus Ericsson. These moments show how much talent and raw speed Colton Herta really has. He would have easily been a championship contender if it weren’t for mechanical issues at Texas and Gateway. So regularly did he show his insane ability in 2021, and with him being tipped for years to gain the title, I think 2022 will finally be his time.


via motorsport.com

Olly


Romain Grosjean - A left-field shout for 2022 champion could come in the form of “the Phoenix” Romain Grosjean, who heads to frontrunners Andretti this year after a solid start to IndyCar with Dale Coyne in 2021. Piloting the #28 DHL liveried Andretti, Grosjean will have a great chance to go for the title with the team that recently announced they’re gunning for a spot on the Formula One grid in the near future. There are, however, 5 or 6 other drivers who have just as good a chance of taking it, but having competed in the F1 midfield for the best part of a decade, it’s nothing new for Grosjean. It won’t be easy for him, but if anyone could do it, it would be a driver of his calibre.


Logan


Pato O’Ward - O'Ward is definitely a contender for the 2022 championship as in 2021 both him and his Arrow Mclaren SP team showed to be very consistent and was in a good position to win the championship last year until he had contact on lap one of the finale with Ed Jones. Both Mclaren and O’ward have been taking steps up in both of their years together however, he finished the 2021 season with 2 wins. The first of which came at Texas and his second was in the second race of the Detroit double header. In his career, O’ward now has 9 podiums and 4 poles. He also won rookie of the year in the 2020 Indy 500 and was strong there again in 2021. If O’ward continues this uphill trend, he very well could be the champion at the end of the season.


Indy 500 Winner


Morgan


Colton Herta - Herta was one of the drivers who came close to Indy 500 victory in 2021, qualifying second and taking Scott Dixon at the start, but setup problems and other issues saw him fall from a spot in the top five to 16th. Throughout the entire 2021 season, Herta had the pace to win races and he did win three, but his pace at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is indicative of an Indy 500 victory in the near future. Will 2022 be Herta’s year? I’m saying yes, based on Herta’s ability and recent performances, that he’ll be the driver to take victory at the biggest race of the year.


Danny


Pato O’Ward - Predicting an Indy 500 winner is near impossible, who would have predicted Castroneves to gain a 4th title last year! But, 2 names stand out to me in Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward, but O’Ward’s oval form stands out to me. Although he will be in a Chevrolet, which typically hasn’t been as strong as the Honda’s in Indianapolis, in his last 2 attempts O’Ward has finished 6th and 4th, and was very much in the running last year. The Mexican picked up the most points of anyone on an oval last year, picking up a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th at the 4 events last year. And with a potential F1 seat on the horizon, Zak Brown has made it clear that the Indy 500 has to be a priority for O’Ward, and with his undeniable oval ability, he is very much in contention for the Indy 500.


via Getty Images

Olly


Pato O'Ward - For the top spot in the Indy 500, I’m going to go for Pato O’Ward. At the 4 oval events in 2021, Pato racked up 4 top 4 finishes, including a double podium at the Texas Motor Speedway where the Mexican took his first win in IndyCar. In the last edition of the 500, O’Ward maintained his position in the top 3 throughout, even leading 17 laps, but lost the podium spot to Penske’s Simon Pagenaud later on. In his 2 full years in IndyCar, Pato finished on the podium 5 out of 10 oval races, with top 5s in another 2. Arrow McLaren’s ability on the ovals is undeniable and they’ll undoubtedly allow Pato to go all out for the 500 this year.


Logan


Alex Palou - I can see Palou taking the top spot at the Indy 500 this year. Palou is coming off of his maiden championship in 2021 and finished second at the 2021 Indy 500, finishing less than a second behind Helio Castroneves as the two had battled over the closing laps of the race. But this year, I see Palou being on top. He showed how fast he is on many occasions in 2021 and Chip Ganassi has always performed well on ovals so I don't see anyone being able to beat him at the 500.


Rookie of the Year


Morgan


David Malukas - As maybe more of an outside pick, David Malukas is my choice for the ROTY award. The fact is that most of the other rookies (Kirkwood, Ilott, Calderon) won’t be in a car that can give them the performance they’d need. DeFrancesco is the rookie in the best seat to win in the Andretti car, but doesn’t have a track record to warrant high expectations. That leaves two rookies, Malukas and Christian Lundgaard. Of the two, Lundgaard has had a more impressive junior career and has already proven his ability to be quick in an Indycar, but he’s coming over from a career of racing in Europe and will be in a completely new environment. Malukas, on the other hand, despite not having quite as impressive a junior career, will have the experience of coming up through the Road to Indy ladder, and will have an upper hand in that respect. He also has HMD Motorsports on his side, the formidable Indy Lights team owned by Malukas’ father that is partnering with Dale Coyne Racing to run his #18 car. With the assistance of a team he knows and feels comfortable with, as well as the experience in the American side of racing that Lundgaard will be lacking, Malukas will have a decent shot at the ROTY award.


Danny


Kyle Kirkwood - The ROTY contest is always hotly contested for the new faces on the IndyCar grid. 2022 has a clear split between drivers from the RTI and Europe and has some very recognisable faces in Callum Ilott and Christian Lundgaard. But, I’m going to go bold and back the American, Kyle Kirkwood. Kirkwood is a serial winner, he has won almost half the races he has ever competed in, he won all 3 steps of the Road to Indy in his 1st attempt. Although his serial wins are unlikely to happen in a Foyt, his ability will surely propel him to the front of the rookies. His main competition will come in Christian Lundgaard, who starred in his one-off appearance at Indianapolis. However, Kirkwood’s experience of the American motorsport scene will be a significant factor in the rookie of the year debate. And with Lundgaard previously having no oval experience, I am backing Kyle Kirkwood to win the Rookie of the Year award.


Olly


Christian Lundgaard - While Kyle Kirkwood is undoubtedly a generational talent, he’ll be racing for AJ Foyt, a team at the back of the IndyCar grid, hence why I’ve gone for Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Christian Lundgaard. The Danish F2 race winner tested for the team a month before a one-off appearance for them last season at the Indianapolis road course. Lundgaard finished 12th that day after an immense fourth place result in qualifying. As RLL begin to push toward becoming a frontrunning team, Lundgaard will have a great chance to push for some high points-scoring results in 2022 after a torrid 2021 riddled with bad luck throughout his F2 campaign. It will be interesting, though, to see how Kirkwood fairs in his debut IndyCar year following his spectacular Road to Indy record.


via INDYCAR

Logan


Callum Ilott - Ilot made his indycar debut in the final three races last year and while the results may not have been satisfactory last year, you do have to remember what Ilot has done in other series. As well the rest of the field already had a lot more experience but with Ilot running a full season this year, I can see him improving throughout the year and take the ROTY honour at season end.


Biggest Surprise


Morgan


Jimmie Johnson - The seven time NASCAR champion had a tough Indycar debut season in 2021, at least on the track. He raced with Chip Ganassi Racing on the road and street courses, taking a best result of 17th at the final two races of the season. It’s fair that the veteran racing driver struggled in his first season in an Indycar, as adapting to a totally new team and car would be difficult for anyone. But people have widely written Johnson off as past his time and no longer good enough to compete in any real way. I’m predicting them to be wrong, and that actually the 2022 season will see Johnson take a step forward. The fact is that he has a vast amount of racing experience, and now that he has had a season to adjust, it’s not unlikely that he’ll be able to put in some good performances, not to mention getting a chance to compete on the oval courses this year. The Chip Ganassi team has given Johnson a chance to show what he’s capable of in Indycar, and I think 2022 is the year we’ll see that.


via NBC

Danny


Jack Harvey - Jack Harvey can be seen as one of the most forgettable, but yet underrated drivers on the grid. However, a move from Meyer Shank to the #45 RLL is a significant career move for the Brit. RLL have consistently been just behind the Andretti’s, Penske’s and Ganassi’s, but big things are predicted of them this year. Harvey got the seat over intense competition, with RLL considering other drivers such as Santino Ferrucci and Oliver Askew. However, Harvey got the nod, and with 2 Top 4 finishes last year, and regular Firestone Fast 6 appearances, his step up in team gives him all the potential he needs to become the surprise of the year.


Logan


Helio Castroneves - The 46 year old will make his full time return to racing in 2022 with Meyer Shank Racing, the team that he won his 4th Indy 500 with in 2021. While Castroneves is one of the older drivers in the field, he is still very quick, and with the right car could have a very successful and surprising season in 2022. I even can see him battling at the front at the Indy 500 again as he looks for his record-setting 5th win at the historic race. I don't see any reason why people should not expect to see “The Spider-Man” look to climb the fence again.



Biggest Struggle


Morgan


Takuma Sato - Sato is one of the more experienced drivers in the paddock, now coming into his 12th Indycar season. But he’s headed to a new team with Dale Coyne Racing, and will at the very least need time to adjust. As Dale Coyne looks to make a step up and put in some good performances, Sato will have to contend, not just with the car, but with a rookie teammate in David Malukas. It will likely be a tough year for Sato, who will have to work hard to prove he can still get results in a car that’s working to improve and against a young teammate.


Danny


Rinus VeeKay - 2021 was particularly notable as it had disappointing seasons for many. Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, and Will Power were just a few examples. Although VeeKay showed his potential toward the start of 2021, in particular an epic win at the GMR Grand Prix, before a 2nd place in Detroit. However, after his cycle crash before Road America, his form dropped significantly, his best finish was 16th in the final 7 races. It was clear that VeeKay would be unable to match the potential of drivers such as O’Ward and Herta, and with ECR’s form dipping in recent years, I cannot see VeeKay picking up the form he had at the beginning of 2021.


Logan


Alexander Rossi - Rossi had a strong start to his IndyCar career even winning the Indy 500 in his rookie season in 2016 after making the move from F1. He also finished runner up in the championship in 2018. However, Rossi has now gone 2 seasons without winning a race and has not had many good results since 2019. I don't see that changing in 2022 and I fear Rossi has missed his opportunity. As well he has seemed to struggle to adapt to the aero screen as his performance started to dip after it was added. Andretti Autosport has also dipped in performance with only Colton Herta winning races while Rossi, Ryan Hunter Rey, and James Hinchcliffe have not been as competitive. So I can not see Rossi returning to his competitive ways.


via INDYCAR / Joe Skibinski

What are your Indycar season predictions? Let us know in the comments!


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