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The fresh faces of the field -IndyCar's 2024 rookie class

Written by Dan Jones

In the build-up to the NTT IndyCar Series season opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg on March 10, DIVEBOMB give you all the need-to-know ahead of the green flag flying, as Dan investigates the 2024 Rookie of the Year contenders, as all battle it out for one of IndyCar's most elite prizes.

Credit: Joe Skibinski

Linus Lundqvist

I said in my pre-season predictions article that Linus Lundqvist's battle to claim that crown is one year too late, and I stand by that. The 2022 Indy NXT Champion mightily impressed and remained resilient even if an opportunity didn't come his way, patience was a virtue for Lundqvist, who now finds himself with IndyCar's top dogs, Chip Ganassi Racing in 2024.

Lundqvist started his racing career in native Sweden, and finding success in Britain, winning the 2018 British F3 title. He made the switch to the US in 2020, immediately winning the Formula Regional Americas Championship, winning 15 of 17 races, an in a field which featured David Malukas, Kyffin Simpson and Benjamin Pedersen. Lundqvist would then step up to Indy Lights in 2021, finishing third in the standings behind Malukas and eventual champion, Kyle Kirkwood.

Kirkwood and Malukas would make the step up to IndyCar in 2022, whilst Lundqvist remained in the newly rebranded, Indy NXT, where he would claim five race wins and nine podiums on his way to the title. However, even after such an impressive performance, Lundqvist would not find the IndyCar opportunity he richly deserved.

That would wait until Nashville last season, where Lundqvist was called up to replace the injured Simon Pagenaud, instantly impressing by qualifying in the Firestone Fast 12 and taking the fastest lap. Lundqvist's mighty performances would see him given more opportunities at the upcoming rounds at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway, where he continued to break expectations.

When asked by DIVEBOMB in how instrumental those races where for his future, Lundqvist stated: "Without those races, I would not be sitting here today." Lundqvist is comfortably the favourite for the Rookie of the Year crown, believing the three races last year also gives him a head-start in that battle: "100 percent. Obviously I've done three races more than I would have done before."

Lundqvist is a particularly exciting addition to the IndyCar grid, a mixture of experience in the feeder series ladder, as well as raw pace that he so clearly displayed in his 2023 rodeos. The Swede remained patient for an opportunity and could be one to look out for in 2024 in regards to a surprise podium of even on the top stop itself.

Tom Blomqvist

Credit: Joe Skibinski

As an IMSA door closed for Tom Blomqvist, an IndyCar one opened, who finds himself switching from the IMSA side of Meyer Shank Racing's garage to the IndyCar side, in a 100% change for Meyer Shank Racing, as he lines up alongside Felix Rosenqvist, on a full-time program for the only full-time Brit in the series.

Blomqvist has more than established himself in the endurance scene, winning the Daytona 24 Hours consecutively in 2022 and 2023, and putting in a stellar performance to come second in 2024. Blomqvist also took home the IMSA title in 2022, alongside Oliver Jarvis as well as a Petit Le Mans win last year. The 30-year-old has a multitude of experience, previously participating in the World Endurance Championship, Formula E and DTM. As mentioned on the DIVEBOMB IndyCar Podcast he remains one of very few to beat Max Verstappen over the course of a season in equal machinery - in the 2015 FIA European F3 Championship.

Similarly to Lundqvist, Blomqvist did also get three run-outs last year, in the same Meyer Shank Racing car that Lundqvist did. Blomqvist didn't make as much of an impact as Lundqvist, but that was not to be expected for someone with no IndyCar experience, and on multiple tracks he hadn't raced on before. Blomqvist's debut on the Streets of Toronto ended at the first corner, but his top 20 in qualifying could not be overlooked after the rain neutralised Blomqvist's disadvantage, where he put in a fine display. He was also present at Portland and Laguna Seca, the latter being fairly unrepresentative due to an extortionate amount of crashes, but Blomqvist still took crucial learning time.

There is a lot of learning for Blomqvist to do in his rookie year though. He's never participated on an oval, his first venture being at the Indianapolis 500. But when asked by DIVEBOMB, Blomqvist remained confident on that: 'I think I'm going to hopefully have an ample amount of time to figure it out.' Blomqvist might take pride in the extensive testing for the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing,' but six ovals in the final eight races may provide a tougher challenge for the Brit from a learning side of things, and his push for Rookie of the Year.

Blomqvist has done all he can possibly do to show how mighty he has been in endurance racing, a switch to IndyCar is a mouth-watering prospect for a driver of his calibre, and with Helio Castroneves by his side, he's got the very best to learn from in 2024.

Kyffin Simpson

Credit: Joe Skibinski

Chip Ganassi Racing will expand to five entries for 2024, with Kyffin Simpson bringing back the iconic #4 entry, lining up alongside fellow rookie, Lundqvist, in the team. Simpson's a left-field call, but has been on Ganassi's radar for several years - you have to be mightily talented for the very best to have you on their shortlist, and could cause a bigger surprise than most think.

The first IndyCar driver from the Cayman Islands, Simpson is one of three 2024 rookies to step up from Indy NXT, where he claimed two podiums and a pole position in 2023. Similarly to Blomqvist though, Simpson has really found success in the endurance scene, picking up the European Le Mans Series title in the LMP2 class last season, as well as third in the Asian Le Mans Series.

Simpson has found success in single seaters though, winning the Formula Regional Americas Championship the year after Lundqvist. Although the results in Indy NXT don't look mightily impressive on paper, there is a lot of substance to Simpson's performance, and neither him or Chip Ganassi would not have called him up to the big leagues if he were not ready.

When asked by DIVEBOMB, Simpson stated 2024 as a learning year: ''I think this year is going to be a lot about learning. I don't really have any set targets that I have for myself. I just want to maximize everything that I can. If I've got a car for fifth, I want to get fifth. If I only have a car for 10th, I'll take 10th or anything like that. I just want to make sure that I maximize every session. Not just learning everything I can, but also putting the car where it should be.'

And Simpson has a great opportunity to learn, with both Scott Dixon and Alex Palou in the team, arguably the two best drivers that the series has to offer. Not only can he find support in the fact that Lundqvist is on the same journey as him, Marcus Armstrong had the same experience just last year, and just like Simpson and Lundqvist will be learning to adapt to oval racing in 2024.

A few eyebrows were raised with Simpson's impressive performances at the recent test at Sebring International Raceway, and more eyebrows could be raised. Simpson is very young, he will have a lot to learn and will be seen as an outsider for the Rookie of the Year, but in Chip Ganassi Racing, he certainly has the opportunity to impress.

Christian Rasmussen

Credit: Joe Skibinski

The defending Indy NXT Champion, Christian Rasmussen will be relieved to have his racing future secured, after being '24 hours away' from losing his motorsport career multiple times in 2023. However, the Dane has fought his way back, finding himself on the grid with Ed Carpenter Racing, as he splits the #20 with Ed Carpenter, competing in the road and street courses, as well as the Indianapolis 500 in a third entry.

A motorsport resume that all on the IndyCar ladder would dream of, Rasmussen replicates the achievements of Kyle Kirkwood by winning on every step of the Road to Indy ladder. A 2020 title victory in the USF2000, followed by the Indy Pro 2000 title the following year. After a frustrating, but impressive first year in Indy NXT, the following season would see Rasmussen crowned champion comfortably, winning five races on all three track types, despite issues surrounding his budget and his future all-season long.

As is a common theme for the 2024 rookies, Rasmussen had already starred in 2024, specifically in sportscars, taking home a Rolex watch by claiming the LMP2 victory in the Daytona 24 Hour, statistically being the fastest LMP2 driver of the entire field, in the second-biggest endurance race on earth.

The Dane, who is very good friends with Christian Lundgaard, who he raced against in the 2017 Danish F4 Championship, might be being overlooked by many, due to his split schedule. His Indy NXT title was comfortable, and easily fended off the opposition, taking victories at all the vital moments on his way to the title which will see him step up in 2024.

Yes, the Rookie of the Year crown is out of the picture for Rasmussen, missing 6 of the 17 events in 2024, but the 23-year-old can still very much take it as a learning year, alongside the 'oval expert,' Ed Carpenter, and Rinus VeeKay, who moves into a leadership role within the team. But Rasmussen will still have a good opportunity to compare himself to the rest of the 2024 rookies, we'll see the Dane in the first nine races of 2024.

Rasmussen's 2024 opportunity will be a similar path to the one taken by the likes of Romain Grosjean and Marcus Armstrong in recent years, but Rasmussen still thinks that could benefit him, when asked by DIVEBOMB if a split schedule may aid development: '

We'll see. I think there is a lot to learn when you step up into INDYCAR, so having to only focus on road and street circuits might be a good thing.

I feel pretty strong on the ovals, so I think I could do some good stuff. But that's also the plan, to continue through a full season in 2025.'

A talent who has maybe been overlooked by many, Christian Rasmussen will get a much-deserved opportunity in 2024 to show what he can do, and with an opportunity still on the cards for the Indianapolis 500, as well as all the road and street courses, he could very well impress than people believe.

Nolan Siegel

Credit: Chris Jones

A part-time IndyCar ride awaits for Nolan Siegel, as he splits his duties with a full-time season in Indy NXT. Seigel will race the #18 Dale Coyne Racing entry in four events in 2024. The non-championship exhibition race at the Thermal Club, the championship rounds on the Streets of Long Beach and Streets of Toronto, as well as an opportunity at the Indianapolis 500.

The Rookie of the Year focus will be for next year though. With Siegel planned to only do three points-scoring rounds, and expected to step up full-time in 2025, Siegel and Coyne's focus will be on securing the Rookie of the Year crown in 2025, as the 19-year-old will remain eligible for Rookie status next year, much like Blomqvist and Lundqvist.

Siegel has been seen as a real talent on the Road to Indy, and surprised many with a really impressive third place finish in the Indy NXT standings in 2023, and is seen as one of the primary championship contenders in 2024. Siegel has won on all three steps of the ladder, and has taken very little time to get up to speed in both Indy Pro 2000 and Indy NXT, and will be hoping he can carry over that form to IndyCar.

Siegel has hardly step foot in an IndyCar, his only outing to date being a test at Homestead-Miami Speedway at the end of January, but the $1,000,000 Challenge at The Thermal gives him a better opportunity to test himself against others, when there isn't as much on the line for him or the team.

2024 will give Siegel an opportunity to test the waters, to gain some crucial experience ahead of a full-time attack in 2024. The Indianapolis 500 will be Siegel's main chance though, where the eyes of the world will be. Coyne have taken a lot of faith in the youngest driver in the field, but Nolan Siegel remains an exciting prospect, with 2024 a preliminary push before the main event in 2025.

Colin Braun

Credit: Joe Skibinski

A left-field call-up, Colin Braun will get an IndyCar opportunity at the tender age of 35, as he competes for Dale Coyne Racing on the Streets of St. Petersburg and at the $1,000,000 Challenge at the Thermal Club, some 20 years after he last stepped in a single-seater, as one of America's most seasoned motorsport veterans gets his shot at the premier open-wheel category in the country.

The future of the #51 car remains unclear, all that we do know is that Braun will be at St. Petersburg and The Thermal with 'the hopes of doing more races later on in the year.' Braun maybe late arriving onto the IndyCar scene, but he has a wealth of experience. The Texan had an excellent outing in his first ride in an Indy car at the recent test at Sebring International Raceway, setting a quicker time then seasoned veteran, Jack Harvey, albeit when the track was slightly kinder.

But it shows Braun's ability to adapt, for a team who called him up last minute in a car he had never driven before. Braun knows success too, he won the Daytona 24 Hours last year, alongside Blomqvist, and has taken wins in the NASCAR Truck Series. He's a diverse driver, but a very talented one at that, and someone who deserved an IndyCar opportunity.

Braun might not be a longer-term option, and certainly won't be contending for the Rookie of the Year, in fact, we might not seem him in an Indy car again by the end of the month, but his two outings give him an excellent opportunity to display his potential, in the bid of him making a big name for himself in the IndyCar paddock.

Kyle Larson

Credit: Chris Jones

We'll only see Kyle Larson once in 2024, but significantly, that will be at the Indianapolis 500 as he goes for 'The Double,' the challenge of competing in the Indianapolis 500 in the early afternoon and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the evening, a challenge so difficult, it has not been attempted in 10 years.

Larson is maybe the best driver that the NASCAR Cup Series has to offer, winning the championship and Coca-Cola 600 in 2021. He teams up with Arrow McLaren, as well as his NASCAR team, Hendrick Motorsports, as one of NASCAR's finest drivers matches with one of the biggest forces in the 'Month of May' in recent years.

With guidance from the likes of Tony Kanaan and Jeff Gordon, Larson is learning from the very, very best, and although the Top Rookie at the Indianapolis 500 (Where Marcus Armstrong is also a contender from the names above), would be a mighty achievement for Larson, he wants to go one step further and create his own piece of history.

These seven drivers make up the rookie class of the 2024 NTT IndyCar Series, with the Streets of St. Petersburg the first opportunity to see several of these drivers in IndyCar action on March 10. Follow DIVEBOMB for all the build-up to IndyCar's season opener, as the battle for the 2024 Rookie of the Year begins.


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