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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No. 2 - David Malukas leads Arrow McLaren

This has been a bold prediction I've had since September, when David Malukas was announced as Felix Rosenqvist's replacement behind the wheel of the No. 6 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren. Despite him being sidelined from the season opener with a wrist injury, I'm sticking with it.

First of all, Malukas is the driver who seems, at least on the surface, least affected by the pressure of competing for a winning team. He is as loose as they come, and he has proven himself capable of delivering results with a much smaller Dale Coyne Racing team.

Secondly, as a rookie with Dale Coyne Racing, he wasn't the first of this decide to put up three top 10 finishes, a podium finish, a 16th place points finish, and a 14th place average finish. The other is now a two-time champion named Alex Palou, and Malukas enters his McLaren tenure -- in the seat that was meant to be Palou's, by the way -- with an extra year of experience under his belt.

Then there is the rest of Arrow McLaren's to look at. As good as Pato O'Ward is, leading the team in all four of his seasons behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet thus far, he has been plagued by inconsistency and has had only two winning seasons.

Additionally, Malukas enters the season with the back of his mind (and front, for that matter) clear of potential Formula 1 ambitions. Are we 100% sure that the same be said for O'Ward?

Alexander Rossi has spoken about getting out of ninth place "purgatory", and it's not hard to imagine him winning a race with the team after a winless first year last year. But he has made just one trip to victory lane since June 2019.

Does he really have what it takes to stave off not just one but two young McLaren chargers after being unable to keep Colton Herta behind him at Andretti Autosport?