Josef Newgarden may have come up just short in a bid to be the first repeat NTT IndyCar Series champion since Dario Franchitti did it for three straight years in 2009 through 2011. He was eyeing his third championship in four years, but instead it was Scott Dixon winning his sixth ever, four of which coming in the last seven years himself.
But, I have to wonder that by time Newgarden is in Year 20 of open wheel racing like Dixon is now, where his stats will land.
There’s no doubt about it, 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 Newgarden.
See, Dixon’s numbers rival only the likes of AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti. His six championships rank second to Foyt’s seven. His 50 wins rank third to Foyt’s 67 and Andretti’s 56. His 48 runner-ups are second to Andretti’s 56. Just Andretti (144) and Foyt (119) have more podiums than Dixon’s 123.
In terms of top five finishes, Andretti has 194, Dixon has 174. The next best is Foyt with 149.
Who’s to say Newgarden’s won’t look like that 20 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 had four wins and six podiums. 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 15 wins, 25 podiums, 10 poles and has led 1,820 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-9. Dixon, has just one Indy 500 victory (2008) as he’s 1-for-18.
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.