The NTT IndyCar Series has seen a recent surge in the so-called ‘youth movement’ during the 2021 season. Alex Palou in his second season in the series has scored four podiums in eight races and took victory in the season-opener at Barber Motorsports Park, his first race for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP has taken two victories so far this season, most recently on Sunday in Detroit, and in doing so has taken the lead in the championship by one point from Palou. Rinus Veekay who is also in his second season in the NTT IndyCar Series claimed his first career win last month at the GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis for Ed Carpenter Racing.
Many people have suggested that the 2021 season is seen as the ‘changing of the guard’ however, this is far from the case. The competition in the NTT IndyCar Series is absolutely incredible this season and that’s all it is. If you are not on your game in a race then you are going to have problems.
We have seen seven different winners in the opening eight races of the season, with four new race winners in Alex Palou, Rinus Veekay, Pato O’Ward, and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson who took victory in race one in Detroit over the weekend.
Six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the No.9 PNC Bank Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing is in third place in the championship and took victory in Texas race one. The Iceman has claimed two pole positions this season including the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 however, a run of bad luck in recent races has hampered his season, however, this has not been a problem for Dixon who may have a 36 point deficit to O’Ward in the championship, however that is meaningless as experience counts for everything in this sport and there is still a long way to go in 2021.
When we look at Team Penske, Will Power dominated the opening race in Belle Isle on Saturday before a mechanical issue saw him lose the lead while in race 2, Josef Newgarden dominated the race but was no match for the fast charging Pato O’Ward, over at Andretti Autosport, yes the team may have a win in 2021 however overall the team has struggled on the whole with Ryan Hunter Reay, Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe all suffering their fair share of bad luck in 2021 but the thing about this sport is you cannot predict anything.
If you had said at the start of May that Helio Castroneves, who was making his first start for his new team, Meyer Shank Racing at the Indianapolis 500 would in the race and in doing so become a four-time Indy 500 winner you would not have been listened to, but, that is exactly what happened and this is why our sport is so unpredictable.
The opening eight races of the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season have been unprecedented in many ways, not only have we have seven different winners for the first time since 2017 but Team Penske has also failed to win a race so far this season, with their last victory coming for Josef Newgarden in the 2020 season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.
The series veterans will come out fighting in the second half of the season starting this weekend in Road America.