Team Penske-Chevrolet’s two-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden has tipped new Dale Coyne Racing-Honda with Team Goh hotshot Alex Palou to win a tough Rookie of the Year battle.
Last year’s crop of full-time rookies included Felix Rosenqvist, Colton Herta, Santino Ferrucci and Marcus Ericsson, and all of them impressed at times on their way to sixth, seventh, 13thand 17th overall, respectively. Rosenqvist took a pole and two podium finishes, Herta earned three poles and two wins, Ferrucci won Indy 500 Rookie of the Year and led more laps than anyone at Gateway, and Ericsson finished runner-up in Detroit.
That said, big things are expected of this year’s rookies – 2019 Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew of Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet, 2019 SuperFormula Rookie of the Year Alex Palou in the Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh-Honda, and 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevy.
Asked by Motorsport.com which of this trio was likely to prevail across the 17 races in 2020, the 2017 and ’19 NTT IndyCar Series winner Newgarden initially expressed surprise to learn that Askew’s teammate Pato O’Ward, thanks to eight IndyCar starts, would not be eligible for the Series RotY.
“I’d have put all my money on O’Ward,” he said. “If you’re excluding him… it’s tough to say.
“I think Rinus is going to tear too much stuff up. I mean, I think he’s going to be fast, but it’s going to take some time. He’s probably got to learn some lessons.
“Askew? Hard to say with him, to be honest with you. He’s very focused though, very intense… intense and awkward! He’s interesting.
“And there’s Palou. I know nothing about him except he was super-good in Super Formula, right? So he’ll probably be pretty good.
“Yeah, probably Palou. I’ll say him. He’s probably got the most experience of everybody.”
Newgarden admitted that as he enters his ninth IndyCar season in the series – despite being just 28 years old – he has noticed the younger drivers seeking advice.
“Yeah, just a little bit, I’m starting to notice it,” he grinned. “Particularly Rinus. He’s a very kind young man and any information’s good. He’s just enthusiastic and wants to be better and I love seeing that and it reminds me of how I was and still try to be.
“So [I’m asked] a little bit from the advice standpoint, but not a ton – which I think’s good. I don’t want to be viewed as the old guy!”
Alex Palou, Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda
Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images
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