We’re a week away from the start of the 2020 IndyCar season, and there’s already a different kind of electricity in the air. So much has changed since Josef Newgarden was named the 2019 IndyCar champion less than six months ago, so much that it truly is a new beginning.
The league has a new owner in Roger Penske. The cars have a new look with the official introduction of the long-discussed and tested aeroscreen. Teams have new names such as Schmidt Peterson Motorsports becoming Arrow McLaren SP. There’s this year’s cavalcade of new drivers including Rinus VeeKay, Alex Palou and Oliver Askew. Existing drivers like Conor Daly and Charlie Kimball have new teams. And some major names won’t be on the grid full-time, which feels incredibly surreal.
To borrow an expression from another sport, it’s a whole new ballgame.
Every season in every sport brings change, but rarely is change touching every aspect as it is in the 2020 IndyCar season. That means there’s a lot to learn, and also a lot to be excited about.
Jack Harvey is getting his first full-time season with Meyer Shank Racing after both driver and team looked great last year; how will they do now with the added consistency of being around every race weekend? How will Daly fit in with Ed Carpenter Racing, his eighth IndyCar team in seven years? Could the combination of five-time champion Scott Dixon with sophomore standouts Felix Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson give Chip Ganassi Racing a superlative lineup?
It’s also not common for fans to have just as much to hold their interest when it comes to the off-track part of racing. It’s a very neat thing for the owner of IndyCar’s most successful team to now own the entire business; what Roger Penske is doing now is sort of the much bigger version of Ed Carpenter being both a driver and a team owner. But there’s no one who could be a better owner, and better steward for open-wheel racing, than Roger Penske. His resume speaks for itself as far as the excellence that he can cultivate, and he also has a keen understanding of what makes the sport great and where it can improve. Under his leadership, the NTT IndyCar Series should take several steps forward in 2020.
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Then there’s the aeroscreen. Yes, the cars look drastically different now, but this is the safety improvement many fans and drivers have been calling for, for a long time. And one can analyze how it affects the car in testing, and speculate about it from watching tape or reading commentary, but the true test will be when these updated entries take to the track and experience live racing conditions. Certainly some adaptation will be necessary, and it will be a learning curve for drivers and teams to see who can master the details first.
On every level, the NTT IndyCar Series has something fresh and new going for it in 2020. And that’s fantastic; it’s forward progress, new momentum, and new ideas to build upon what was already a great foundation. There are already so many quality drivers (and quality people) in IndyCar, and if one thing’s been missing from the sport in recent years, it’s that they don’t get nearly the attention they deserve for either their on-track talent or their off-track sportsmanship. With so much to talk about, hopefully this great league and the people who make it what it is will get that overdue attention and more people will finally realize how stellar IndyCar is.
Everything is changing in the 2020 IndyCar season, and that means that anything is possible.
The 2020 IndyCar season begins Sunday, March 15 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Article content is (c)2020 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr.