INDIANAPOLIS — There’s no doubt about it, Scott Dixon is likely the best driver right now of this generation of the NTT IndyCar Series. He may end up being among the best ever. But, he may have a replacement in a decade or so. That’s Josef Newgarden.
See, Dixon’s numbers rival only the likes of AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti. His five championships rank second to Foyt’s seven. His 49 wins rank third to Foyt’s 67 and Andretti’s 56. His 47 runner-ups are second to Andretti’s 56. Just Andretti (144) and Foyt (119) have more podiums than Dixon’s 119.
In terms of top five finishes, Andretti has 194, Dixon has 170. The next best is Foyt with 149.
Who’s to say Newgarden’s won’t look like that 18 years into his career?
By year eight of his open wheel racing career, Dixon had two championships, 17 wins and 31 podiums. For his first eight combined years, Newgarden had two championships, 14 wins and 29 podiums.
Now, in his ninth season in IndyCar, Newgarden already has a win and two podiums this season. By comparison, Dixon had five wins and 10 podiums in his ninth season.
As you can see, Newgarden certainly in trending in Dixon’s direction, even more so since he joined Team Penske in 2017.
In five seasons with Ed Carpenter Racing, Newgarden scored three wins, 10 podiums, won just one pole and led 679 laps. In his fourth season now with Penske, Newgarden has 12 wins, 21 podiums, 10 poles and has led 1,717 laps.
Dare I say he could be better than Dixon?
So, while he’s on a trajectory to be in the conversation with Dixon in career achievements, they’re also similar in another role – Indy 500 crowns. Newgarden, has never won one. He’s 0-for-8. Dixon, has just one Indy 500 victory (2008) as he’s 1-for-17.
Do we rank IndyCar drivers based off of Indy 500 wins or championships? For years, it’s been all about ‘500 victories and how many you have. Maybe that trend is shifting.
Does Newgarden need an Indy 500 victory to solidify his place in IndyCar lore? He’s been close in recent years. The Tennessee native was third with ECR in 2016. He was eighth in 2018 and fourth last year. He heads to this year’s race with four top 10 finishes in his last five tries.
Is the ‘500 a main piece missing? Does he even care?