IndyCar: Final championship prediction for all 24 drivers in 2024

What will the IndyCar championship standings look like when the 2024 season comes to an end at Nashville Superspeedway in mid-September?

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar
Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar / SOPA Images/GettyImages
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The start of the 2024 IndyCar season is right around the corner, with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg scheduled to kick things off on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday's race marks the 12th time in the last 14 years the series has gotten underway at the 14-turn, 1.8-mile (2.897-kilometer) temporary street circuit venue.

Chip Ganassi Racing's Alex Palou enters the season as the reigning champion, and Team Penske's Josef Newgarden enters as the reigning Indy 500 winner.

There are 24 drivers set to compete full-time for this year's IndyCar championship.

On paper, there is a 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (1 in 9.2 quintillion) chance to pick a perfect March Madness bracket.

There is only a 1 in 620,448,401,733,239,439,360,000 (1 in 620 sextillion) of predicting the exact finishing order of these 24 drivers, making a perfect NCAA bracket roughly 67,269 times more likely.

We're going to try anyway.

Full 2024 IndyCar championship standings prediction

1. Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing
2. Josef Newgarden, Team Penske
3. Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing
4. Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske
5. Pato O'Ward, Arrow McLaren
6. Colton Herta, Andretti Global
7. Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Global
8. Will Power, Team Penske
9. Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Global
10. Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
11. Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren
12. David Malukas, Arrow McLaren
13. Linus Lundqvist (R), Chip Ganassi Racing
14. Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing
15. Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing
16. Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
17. Felix Rosenqvist, Meyer Shank Racing
18. Kyffin Simpson (R), Chip Ganassi Racing
19. Santino Ferrucci, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
20. Romain Grosjean, Juncos Hollinger Racing
21. Pietro Fittipaldi, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
22. Agustin Canapino, Juncos Hollinger Racing
23. Tom Blomqvist (R), Meyer Shank Racing
24. Sting Ray Robb, A.J. Foyt Enterprises

IndyCar championship, Indy 500 pick

No reigning champion has won an IndyCar championship since 2011, when Dario Franchitti won the third of three in a row, and no reigning series champion has won the Indy 500 since Franchitti won it in 2012. I think Palou will end both of those streaks, and in doing so, will become the first Indy 500 winner to win the championship in the same year since (surprise) Franchitti in 2010.

He finished last season without a single finish lower than eighth place, something that hadn't been done over the course of a 17-race campaign since 1922, and while his consistency was argued as his greatest strength, he also became the first five-win champion since 2016.

Perhaps most notably, he became the first driver to clinch the championship before the season finale since 2005 (2007 if you include Champ Car). And while he is still sitting on zero oval wins in four seasons, it's hard to argue that anybody has been better in the Indy 500 since 2021, when he finished in second place behind four-time winner Helio Castroneves.

Pit road misfortune knocked him back from the top two to 30th place in each of the last two years, and he managed to claw his way back to ninth and fourth, respectively.

The runner-up

Josef Newgarden's lack of consistency is why, of the four active former champions, he has gone the longest without winning a title (2019). While Palou's "mid" days generally produce fifth place finishes, Newgarden's don't always result in a top 10 result.

That said, the fact that he is the series' clear best oval driver should make him a bigger threat this year than he has been since winning his second championship. The seven oval races on the schedule are the most since he began competing in 2012. Even with another stellar season from Palou, I wouldn't take last year's 177-point deficit with much more than a grain of salt.

And as a side note, his bid to become the first repeat Indy 500 winner since Helio Castroneves in 2002 might be just as strong as Marcus Ericsson's was last year.

The rest of the top contenders

Scott Dixon is still Scott Dixon, but let's not forget that when he has been beaten by a teammate, he has been consistently beaten. His only championship during Franchitti's stint with Chip Ganassi Racing came in Franchitti's final year (2013), which was ultimately cut short due to an injury he suffered in a wreck.

Franchitti won three championships and two Indy 500s during a five-year stretch that saw Dixon win that one title. After Palou won two titles in his first three seasons with Chip Ganassi's team, it might just be that he is the latest driver of the No. 10 Honda who has Dixon's number as the six-time champion continues to seek his first title since 2020.

Scott McLaughlin and Pato O'Ward are the two favorites among drivers seeking their first championships, and I think they will certainly combine for more than a single win in 2024. But with the competition being as fierce as it is, I'm not sure that either of the four-time winners can do enough to take the crown as their own.

Other notables

Beyond them, I think Andretti Global are poised for their best season in quite some time. This is arguably the strongest driver lineup they have had, from top to bottom, in almost two decades. You have to go back to the Franchitti, Bryan Herta, Dan Wheldon, and Tony Kanaan days to find one stronger.

However, I don't think it will translate to their first championship since 2012, which also happens to be the last time they ran just three entries.

Other than that, I think Christian Lundgaard will continue to shine for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and I think David Malukas will have a strong year for Arrow McLaren, with his missed start to begin the season ultimately costing him a top 10 finish in points.

The fact that Alexander Rossi has just one win since 2019 makes me think twice about inserting him as a true title contender, and while Linus Lundqvist was listed sixth in my way-too-early power rankings as somewhat of a bold prediction, Chip Ganassi Racing running five full-time entries makes me think twice about expecting too much out of the rookie.

While Palou won the championship in his first season with the team in 2021, even Ericsson's first season with the organization only resulted in a 12th place points finish. And neither driver was a rookie at the time.

As far as Will Power goes, his 16-year winning streak came to an end last year as the reigning champion. After winning the championship with only a single victory in 2022, a significant bounce-back season in 2024 would be a surprise, but don't write him off completely.

Next. IndyCar championship odds for 2024: Can anyone stop Alex Palou?. IndyCar championship odds for 2024: Can anyone stop Alex Palou?. dark

Tune in to NBC at 12:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, March 10 for the live broadcast of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg from the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. If you have yet to begin a free trial of FuboTV, do so today and don't miss it!

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