NTT IndyCar Series: 5 bold predictions for the 2024 season

The 2024 IndyCar season is scheduled to get underway this coming weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. What does the year have in store?
Pato O'Ward, Alex Palou, IndyCar
Pato O'Ward, Alex Palou, IndyCar / Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2024 IndyCar season is scheduled to get underway this Sunday, March 10 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET (watch free here!).

This race is the first of 17 points races on this year's schedule, which runs from this weekend through the middle of September with the series' first oval finale since 2014 at Nashville Superspeedway.

What does the coming season have in store? Here are five bold predictions.

No. 1 - Alex Palou, Josef Newgarden switch roles

We hear every year about the Indy 500 "hangover" and the fact that a driver hasn't won the Indy 500 and the championship in the same season since Dario Franchitti in 2010.

Last year, as much as the media wanted to hype up the Alex Palou vs. Josef Newgarden championship battle following the latter's Indy 500 win, it never really happened, with Newgarden having to settle for fifth place in the standings, tied for his worst since joining Team Penske in 2017.

We also hear every year about how no driver has won consecutive championships since Franchitti won three in a row from 2009 to 2011.

Picking these two drivers to win anything is far from bold, but here are two stats we don't hear about: no reigning series champion has won the Indy 500 since Franchitti in 2012, and no reigning Indy 500 winner has won the championship the following year since Franchitti in 2011.

Both droughts could end in 2024.

Palou has been the best driver at Indianapolis Motor Speedway over the last two seasons, but pit road issues have forced him to battle back from 30th place both times (to ninth and fourth, respectively). That's not to mention his runner-up finish three years ago, behind four-time winner Helio Castroneves. Barring another disaster, this could be his year.

And Newgarden should benefit from the series' most loaded oval schedule since 2011, though he will still need to be more consistent to win a third championship; despite winning four of five oval races last year, he finished with a lower oval average finish than Palou, who remains winless on ovals in four seasons of IndyCar competition.