top of page

DIVEBOMB’s 2024 IndyCar Predictions

Written by the DIVEBOMB IndyCar Team


After a 180-day off-season, the NTT IndyCar Series returns for the opening track action of the season on the streets of St. Petersburg on 8th March. The team of IndyCar writers at DIVEBOMB give their predictions ahead of the 2024 season.


2024 SERIES CHAMPION

Every champion since 2013 has come from either Team Penske or Chip Ganassi Racing. Can Alex Palou defend his title, or will the seven ovals on the calendar cause the pendulum to swing in Penske’s direction again? Or could the champion come from somewhere else? Our writers give their take…


Archie O’Reilly - Scott McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin was my pick for champion last year. In hindsight, it was possibly a little ambitious for a driver in only his third year in single-seaters, even if he was coming off the back of three wins as a sophomore. There were still inconsistencies coming into 2023, but it is fair to say most of those were ironed out, with 14 top-10 finishes, including in the last 11 races.


It feels as though the Kiwi is ready to challenge in his fourth year. He was the pick of the Team Penske bunch in 2023, finishing third in the championship. He drastically outperformed his teammates in qualifying, with top-twos in seven of his last eight runs of 2023. He even pipped teammate Josef Newgarden to the NTT P1 Award on an oval at Gateway.


Newgarden could be seen as a logical champion pick given the oval increase, but it does feel McLaughlin is getting close to a maiden oval win, despite his teammate winning four of five oval races last year. If he can continue his oval improvement, then maintaining last season’s team-topping road and street course form could serve McLaughlin very well.


Dan Jones - Pato O’Ward

Even after the dominance of Alex Palou’s title charge in 2023, predicting an IndyCar champion for 2024 still remains a challenging task. There’s no doubt that Palou will be looking for an elusive third title - with his external distractions gone and his proven track record, who’s to doubt him? 


Scott Dixon ended the 2023 season in superb fashion, his experience being a vital instrument to his continual success, but his slower starts to seasons in recent years have hampered him. You can’t rule out the Team Penskes either. You can’t rule out an outsider like Kyle Kirkwood. But I’m placing my bets on Pato O’Ward. 


An adjustment in approach mid-season for O’Ward almost saw him a different driver, a much calmer, collected and more controlled driver - a significant reason why O’Ward picked up a personal best seven podiums in his campaign. Yes, a victory eluded him, but it was the foundation for a stronger title attack in 2024. Arrow McLaren’s state-of-the-art engineering truck has raised many eyebrows and will be a critical factor into performance, and if O’Ward doesn’t risk it all on 50/50 decisions, I can see him as the 2024 NTT IndyCar Series Champion.


Jake O’Callaghan - Scott Dixon

Scott Dixon had an incredible run of form at the end of the 2023 season. He won three out of the final four races and shows no signs of slowing down, even at the age of 43. The Kiwi returns in 2024 with Chip Ganassi Racing, a driver-team pairing that has won six championships and finished on the championship podium in 15 out of 21 seasons. 


Additionally, with the season finale being held at the returning Nashville Superspeedway, Dixon will be further emboldened as he was the winner of the three most recent IndyCar races at this track, winning each race between 2006 and 2008. If Dixon can enter the championship weekend within a mathematical chance at the title, it would be incredibly difficult to bet against him.


Katie Gregory - Scott Dixon

While considered by some as old news, Dixon proved he’s still on top form - with three wins at the end of the 2023 season. The 2024 season will see the mid-season introduction of hybrid engines, which will add a new level of unpredictability to IndyCar as the drivers navigate the new system. 


The Iceman is the master of keeping his head cool in tricky situations, and if there are any hot-headed mistakes from the other drivers, Dixon will be there waiting to capitalise on them.


His results from the final 2023 races paired with the rigorous Ganassi testing schedule should give him the perfect momentum to start the season with a bang. If he gets ahead and keeps his head down, I could definitely see another season of dominance for Scott Dixon. 


His contract is also up at the end of the year, and if retirement is on the horizon, I’m sure he will want to make his last season memorable. 


Caitlyn Gordon - Scott McLaughlin

Heading into his fourth full-time season, I think Scott McLaughlin will be the 2024 IndyCar champion. 


The Kiwi has continued to improve over the course of his short time in the series, with his best championship finishes being fourth and third in 2022 and 2023 respectively. Last season, he took victory at Barber and a further three podiums throughout the season.


I do believe it will be a tight battle, not only between his two hungry and talented teammates but also with Alex Palou, who is already at the top of his form. But, ultimately, I believe McLaughlin will prevail and earn the 2024 crown.


INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER

Josef Newgarden heads into the 2024 season having broken a 12-year duck by winning the 2023 Indy 500. Will the lifted weight see the two-time series champion defend his crown? Always difficult to predict, our writers give their take on who may reign supreme come May…


Archie O’Reilly - Kyle Kirkwood

Kyle Kirkwood was running inside the top 10, having cut his way through the field, when he was caught up in Felix Rosenqvist’s late crash in the 2023 Indy 500, sending him upside down. And while Andretti have not been standout on ovals in recent times, with no Indy 500 victory since 2017, Kirkwood seems confident going into his third Month of May.


He spoke in-depth about the event on IndyCar’s annual content day, saying he feels he is starting to figure things out on ovals after two years in the series. During last year’s Indy 500 campaign, he said he felt as though he still spent the month getting up to speed, learning what a good car feels like around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 


But, going into the race, he felt as though he finally got into a good window, reflected by his progress. By the time of his accident, he felt he was “super, super fast” and was a contender. If he picks up where he left off, one of the best drivers to ever progress through the Road to Indy could be a good bet for the Indy 500.


Dan Jones - Alex Palou

I’ve gone against Palou for a title in 2024, but an Indianapolis 500 victory would more than soften the disappointment for the Spaniard. There’s no doubting his potential at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ever since he first entered the Brickyard in 2020, not once qualifying outside the top seven in his four attempts in the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’


A victory fell out of his hands in 2021, when Helio Castroneves overtook him with two laps to go to claim his own iconic fourth win. A touch-and-go pit lane infringement took him out of proceedings in 2022, and a bizarre pit-lane collision with Rinus VeeKay hampering his chances in 2023. 


But what’s more than abundantly clear is that the 2023 Indy 500 pole-sitter is more than capable of winning an Indianapolis 500. With two titles under his belt, the Indy 500 will make or break Palou’s IndyCar legacy.


Jake O’Callaghan - Alex Palou

It would be difficult to rule out Alex Palou out of any race. The defending series champion has particularly shown great speed at Indy in recent years. After winning the pole in 2023, he recovered to an impressive fourth-place finish after an accident in the pitlane early in the race. He also came within half a second of victory in 2021. 


The CGR driver has had some very bad luck at the Brickyard in recent years, but if there was one driver you would trust to go out and win on any given weekend, it’s Alex Palou.


Katie Gregory - Josef Newgarden

A predictable pick perhaps, but I believe Josef Newgarden will be the 2024 Indy 500 winner. After winning all bar one last season, he has truly solidified himself as a master of the ovals. And even with Alex Palou’s dominance, Newgarden still managed to secure the coveted Indy 500 win.


As well as being fast, he knows how to work an oval like no one else. Newgarden specialises in taking higher lines to overtake, defending his position well, and weaving through traffic with ease. No matter if he qualifies on pole, or is beaten to it, I think he will still be crowned Indy 500 champion. 


Caitlyn Gordon - Pato O’Ward

Coming close on a couple of occasions but facing an unfortunate amount of bad luck around the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I think Pato O’Ward will finally cement his name into the bricks in 2024. 


The Mexican started fifth - his best start on the track - for the 2023 Indy 500. As the race matured, O’Ward grabbed the lead and led the pack for 39 laps. He looked steady on pace before a slight mishap as he tangled with Marcus Ericsson, causing the McLaren to retire.


The unfortunate end will only drive O’Ward’s hunger more, and that is why I believe he will take the biggest trophy home in May.


ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

There are four confirmed rookies in the 2024 IndyCar lineup. Christian Rasmussen is running the road and street courses, plus the Indy 500, for Ed Carpenter Racing. Tom Blomqvist is moving from sportscars to a full season with Meyer Shank Racing. Chip Ganassi Racing have Kyffin Simpson and Linus Lundqvist. Can anyone stop Lundqvist? Our writers have their say…


Archie O’Reilly - Linus Lundqvist

With other rookies at a deficit in terms of experience and equipment, plus the Swede’s prodigal talent, Linus Lundqvist is a no-brainer for Rookie of the Year in my eyes. It speaks volumes that, after three races with Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) as deputy for Simon Pagenaud, he caught the eyes of Chip Ganassi Racing, who are arguably the series’ leading team. 


It was lamentable that he had to spend a year on the sidelines after storming to the 2022 Indy Lights championship, taking nine podiums - winning five times - and finishing a lowest of sixth-place across 14 races. In his rookie year in the series the year prior, he finished only behind Kyle Kirkwood and David Malukas, taking three wins, including on debut.


Qualifying finishes of 11th, 12th and 12th across three track types, which will serve him as good experience heading into 2024, and a best race finish of 12th on the Indy Road Course put him right on par with MSR’s full-time drivers. 


Dan Jones - Linus Lundqvist

Linus Lundqvist being crowned Rookie of the Year in 2024 would be a year too late for Lundqvist to be given that crown. However, the Swede has remained incredibly patient for an opportunity, seizing his chance at Meyer Shank Racing with both hands, instrumental in being picked up by Chip Ganassi Racing.


The combination of last year’s super-sub performances, as well as being with the might of Chip Ganassi Racing, it’s hard to see an outcome where Lundqvist isn’t Rookie of the Year. The 24-year-old told DIVEBOMB that those three races would give him a “head start” in his battle against Kyffin Simpson and Tom Blomqvist in the ROTY battle. 


Simpson is fresh off Indy NXT, and will line up at Ganassi alongside Lundqvist, but doesn’t have the career results or racing experience of Lundqvist. Blomqvist is a fine motorsport talent but has been in the endurance scene for several years and will need to adapt to the single-seater nature of the sport, as well as the complexion of ovals, making Lundqvist an excellent choice for ROTY.


Jake O’Callaghan - Linus Lundqvist

Linus Lundqvist will undoubtedly be the best-equipped rookie going into the 2024 season. Competing with Chip Ganassi Racing, the Swedish phenom will be given every opportunity to succeed. 


The 2022 Indy Lights champion had to wait for his time in the main series, but an unlikely opportunity with Meyer Shank Racing late in 2023 as a fill-in for the injured Simon Pagenaud gave him the platform to show his true pace, putting his name at the front of everyone’s minds. Lundqvist certainly has the best chance to claim the coveted Rookie of the Year title. 


Katie Gregory - Linus Lundqvist

Linus Lundqvist impressed immensely with his three performances in 2023, demanding the attention of all IndyCar fans - and earning himself a top seat at Chip Ganassi Racing.


Lundqvist has also had an accomplished junior racing career, coming third in Indy Lights in 2021 and being crowned champion in 2022. The Swede had a stellar season, scoring three race wins and 11 podiums across 20 races. 


While filling in for Simon Pagenaud, Lundqvist raced ovals, street and road courses, giving him a taste of all three circuits he’ll be looking to conquer in 2024. He will also be in the perfect position to learn from title-winning teammates Scott Dixon and Alex Palou, just as 2023 Rookie of the Year Marcus Armstrong did.


Caitlyn Gordon - Linus Lundqvist

Linus Lundqvist had a successful cameo in Nashville, where the Swede entered the top 12 on his debut weekend, edging out his successful teammate. He continued to wow the paddock during the race, where he secured the fastest lap.


The 2022 Indy Lights champion earned a ride with the prestigious Chip Ganassi Racing for the foreseeable future. Alongside him, experienced teammates, like Scott Dixon and Alex Palou, will provide a helping hand which will benefit Lundqvist. 


I think the Swede will also be a regular in the top 10 and may even secure a podium.


SURPRISE OF THE YEAR

There are some unknown quantities on this year’s IndyCar grid, plus some drivers who do not necessarily have too much expectation placed on them. But who will be the biggest surprise package of 2024? 


Archie O’Reilly - Kyffin Simpson

In last week’s DIVEBOMB IndyCar Podcast, I suggested David Malukas could surprise a few people given expectations on him have not been particularly high for his first season at Arrow McLaren. And I stand by this. But, following on from a full-field test at Sebring, I actually feel Kyffin Simpson may provide the biggest surprise. 


He is racing for Chip Ganassi Racing. But, entering the series at 19 years old, with ninth and 10th-place finishes in two years in Indy Lights/NXT, many feel this is a step too big, too soon. Lots are overlooking young Simpson through the perception that he has paid his way to a top seat.   


Simpson has said this will be a year focused on learning, but low expectations could work to his advantage. While test results are not gospel, he rounded out last week’s running in an impressive ninth-place in the combined results. He was one of 12 cars to run on day two, finishing sixth - ahead of Linus Lundqvist and Marcus Armstrong, beating Scott Dixon’s best opening day time. 


Dan Jones - Pietro Fittipaldi

A left-field but very welcome addition to the IndyCar field, Pietro Fittipaldi will race full-time in the series for the first time in his career. In a Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) team who have suffered the highest of highs, and lowest of lows, the 2024 season will be a telling story. Christian Lundgaard has starred for the team, picking up his maiden victory in Toronto, but expectations for Fittipaldi are unknown.


Jack Harvey suffered a turbulent time in the No.30 car last year, giving Fittipaldi the chance to shine in that seat. Fittipaldi will have a mix of Lundgaard’s youthful exuberance and Graham Rahal’s experience in a diverse but strong line-up that RLL have for 2024. 


Fittipaldi’s performance will remain a question mark, but with the performances shown by the team last year, I think he will have the ability to raise a few eyebrows in 2024.


Jake O’Callaghan - Marcus Armstrong

Marcus Armstrong had an incredibly impressive rookie season in 2023. Despite not running any of the oval races, Armstrong still netted enough points to take home the 2023 IndyCar Rookie of the Year award. 


He showed consistent pace throughout the year, with top ten finishes abundant on tracks he had never turned a wheel on before. If everything clicks for him, expect him to be competing right at the very sharp end of the field in 2024.


Katie Gregory - Marcus Armstrong

As Marcus Armstrong enters his sophomore year of IndyCar, there is a surprising lack of hype around him. 


It was always going to be easy for Armstrong to be overlooked, especially when last year his teammates had such impressive seasons. Armstrong is also a product of European racing and therefore fans might be less aware of his junior racing career, especially when compared to drivers like Lundqvist who competed in Indy Lights.


Although Armstrong only completed street and road courses, he was one of the most consistent drivers of 2023. Two-thirds of his races ended with a finish in the top half of what was at least a 27-car field. 


The lack of hype around his season could undoubtedly work to his benefit, giving him room to breathe and even more space to improve. Now he is familiar with racing in IndyCar, he’ll be able to show off his true ability, and will certainly give his Ganassi teammates a run for their money.


Caitlyn Gordon - Surprise of the year: Marcus Armstrong

Marcus Armstrong joined the grid part-time last season with Chip Ganassi. His impressive campaign meant he secured the Rookie of the Year award with a 34-point advantage. He finished 20th overall, accumulating 214 points. The Kiwi finished higher than the three other rookies who entered into more races than Armstrong’s non-oval schedule.


Heading into 2024 and taking on the full-time IndyCar calendar, I think Armstrong will continue building his performance, putting in more consistent finishes and edging his way into the top 10 periodically. The impressive rookie campaign he showed is only the beginning for this bright talent.



MOST IMPRESSIVE TRANSFERRED DRIVER

A host of drivers have moved teams this off-season: Marcus Ericsson has joined Andretti Global, Romain Grosjean has switched to Juncos Hollinger Racing, David Malukas has moved to Arrow McLaren, Felix Rosenqvist has teamed up with Meyer Shank Racing and Sting Ray Robb has joined AJ Foyt Racing. But who will prove the best acquisition? 


Archie O’Reilly - Marcus Ericsson

There is scope for every transferred driver to impress the most this year. Romain Grosjean could thrive with less pressure at a ‘smaller’ team again, I expect David Malukas to emerge from under the radar, Felix Rosenqvist could relish a first team leader role and Sting Ray Robb has always improved in sophomore years.


But I still believe Marcus Ericsson will make the greatest impact. It is a notable move for his career, allowing him to get paid rather than bringing teams money. But, looking from the side of an Andretti Global team in need of improvement, Ericsson is the polar opposite of Grosjean and should help to solve their consistency issues.


A measured and complete driver, Ericsson has only finished outside the top 12 six times in the last three years. His consistency is exemplified by sixth-place finishes in each of the last three years with Chip Ganassi Racing - encouraging for an Andretti team whose best-placed driver, Colton Herta, was 10th in the standings last year.


Coming into Andretti with four wins, including the 2022 Indy 500, and a total of 10 podiums, Ericsson could be the perfect driver to complete a now-three-car lineup.


Dan Jones - David Malukas

The 2023 off-season was one of the most confusing IndyCar has seen. The vacancy of the No.6 Arrow McLaren was the most significant of those, now occupied by David Malukas. It’s a leap of faith from McLaren, taking a driver from the series’ smallest operation to what is becoming IndyCar’s largest.


However, Malukas has starred in the Dale Coyne Racing outfit, particularly showcasing his oval ability. The run of six oval races in the final eight races of the season will be telling for Malukas, but his track record, particularly on short-track, as well as the time it gives him to get up to speed by that point of the season will be a heavy advantage for Malukas, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see several podiums come his way.


Ericsson will likely be Malukas’ closest challenger, but 2024 will be a learning year for Andretti Global. However, don’t discount the likes of Sting Ray Robb and Felix Rosenqvist to make a bigger impact than most expect.


Jake O’Callaghan - David Malukas

David Malukas is one of the most exciting young talents in the IndyCar Series. Since making his debut with Dale Coyne Racing in 2022, the American-Lithuanian driver has turned heads and raised eyebrows. He has shown tremendous pace despite the relatively-uncompetitive Coyne equipment he used for two seasons. 


His talent really shone through on the ovals, with two podiums at Gateway in two races, and a fourth place finish at Texas in 2023. Malukas is now in Arrow McLaren equipment, which will give him a much greater chance at competing for wins and podiums on a regular basis. 


He will unfortunately miss the first race in St. Petersburg due to injury, but look out for a stellar comeback in the second race at The Thermal Club if he is recovered in time.


Katie Gregory - Romain Grosjean

Although going from Andretti to Juncos Hollinger Racing may appear as a downgrade for Romain Grosjean, I think it could quite easily work out in his favour. 


Even though Grosjean started the 2023 season with great results, by mid-season, contract negotiations had broken down due to a string of disappointing finishes. Inconsistency from Andretti only added insult to injury, and by the end of the season - neither party had faith in the other. 


His 2023 season was not all doom and gloom, however, as he showcased immense pace. The mental aspect is what let Grosjean down, with increasing pressure to secure his first IndyCar victory and compete against his younger (and sometimes winning) teammates. 


Being at a smaller team like Juncos Hollinger Racing will be reminiscent of his Dale Coyne Racing days, in which he scored three podiums across the season. I think without the pressure of being at a top team, Grosjean could provide genuinely entertaining wheel-to-wheel racing, especially if he’s working his way up the pack. 


Caitlyn Gordon - David Malukas

David Malukas made his anticipated entrance to Arrow McLaren for 2024 and beyond. Although the start of the season will be slightly delayed due to injuries, I believe once Malukas gets back into the car he will be the most impressive driver that has transferred. 


The American is already an incredible talent, with a couple of podiums to his name during his stint at Dale Coyle Racing. But now given he is in a front-running car, Malukas has an opportunity to push for more consistent podiums and top 10 finishes this season.


BOLD PREDICTION

In IndyCar, you have to brace for the occasional dose of the unexpected. What could that story be this season? Our writers give their bold predictions for the year…


Archie O’Reilly - One-off entry to take Indy 500 pole

There is a very strong field of one-off drivers, including three former winners, so my bold prediction is that a one-off entry will take pole position for the Indy 500.


Dreyer & Reinbold have Indianapolis Motor Speedway specialist and Indiana native Conor Daly, who led laps in 2021 and 2022. They have Daly paired with 2014 Indy 50 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, who ran with the team last year and is confident that he could have finished inside the top five if not for a minor part failure.


Another former winner is four-time pole-sitter and victor Helio Castroneves, who has stepped back from full-time racing into a one-off role with Meyer Shank Racing. Takuma Sato, who is a two-time winner, is also competing, albeit with a Rahal Letterman Lanigan team that suffered Bump Day heartbreak in 2023.


Marco Andretti took pole in his final full-time season in 2020, so he could also have a shot if Andretti can reap the benefits of having one less entry. And who knows… maybe NASCAR ace Kyle Larson (for Arrow McLaren) or the Abel Motorsports entry, likely to be RC Enerson, could spring a surprise for the ages.


Dan Jones - 10 or more drivers to win a race

Maybe IndyCar’s biggest asset in its international motorsport standing is its unpredictability, and I expect that to shine through in 2024. The series saw seven different winners in 2023, and nine in the two seasons prior. But I expect 2024 to hit double digits in the 17 championship rounds of the season.


Alex Palou, Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin and Pato O’Ward are all nailed down immediately for me as given race winners in 2024. Yes, O’Ward didn’t win last year, but he’s too good for that not to repeat. I’d expect Will Power back on form, as well as Colton Herta. 


Christian Lundgaard claimed his maiden win last year and was close to more on several occasions, and I don’t think that trend will buck either. Kyle Kirkwood proved maturity past his year at times last year, and I’d expect Linus Lundqvist to take a surprise victory too.


That’s the 10 I’m going to lock in, without even mentioning the likes of David Malukas, Alexander Rossi, Marcus Ericsson and further outsiders such as Marcus Armstrong, Graham Rahal as well as the surprise that can always be sprung at the Indianapolis 500.


Jake O’Callaghan - Kyffin Simpson to win a race

Kyffin Simpson’s junior racing career has been unremarkable at best. He only managed a ninth and a 10th-place finish in the Indy Lights/NXT championship in two seasons with competitive equipment. Despite this, the Caymanian won a promotion to the main series in 2024 and will drive the No.4 for Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR). 


Looking beyond the championship finishes, he has shown some flashes of pace in his career, most particularly with two podium finishes in Indy NXT in 2023. However, he hasn’t quite shown proof that he has the pace to make one think he could be a regular contender. But all it takes is one chaotic race of attrition to vault Simpson to the very top. 


He will be competing in the very best equipment thanks to CGR after all. Look out for this youngster to be a dark horse in 2024.


Katie Gregory - Marcus Armstrong to win a race

With Marcus Armstrong in his sophomore season, I definitely think a win could be on the cards for him. 


For the majority of the 2023 season, Armstrong kept his head down - earning valuable points and experience as he gained confidence. However, now with a season under his belt, I think he’ll be open to taking more risks and truly challenging the other drivers. 


So if there’s a track on which the Ganassis are performing well, I wouldn’t count out Armstrong for the win.


Caitlyn Gordon - Alexander Rossi gets a race win

Alexander Rossi continues wearing the Papaya for his second season. After entering a stagnant period in his career in his last couple of seasons with Andretti, Rossi made the move over to Arrow McLaren. His first full season with the team was respectable. 


Throughout the course of the season he earned 11 top 10s, one podium and finished ninth - not far behind Ericsson. However, Rossi has been on a win drought since 2022, and the American will be hoping to bring back momentum to his name.


And what better way to do it than securing it with the up-and-coming Arrow McLaren?

ความคิดเห็น


bottom of page