Parity was high during the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season. We saw a whopping four new first time winners join the club with half of them winning multiple times at that. That comes after both 2019 and 2020 seasons featuring one first time winner each. 7 of the last 9 seasons had someone pick up their first career victory during it. So, who are the next first time winners for 2022 and who are poised for a breakout season?
I think we get three more first time winners next year to give us seven in a two year span. The following five are who I have my eyes out on for who can break their ways not only into the top 10 of points, but compete for a top five finish by seasons end too.
- Romain Grosjean – He’s going to be driving the No. 28 Honda for Andretti Autosport in 2022. This is a car that is more than capable of winning a race or two next season. While its not won since the 2018 season finale, Grosjean is poised for a breakout performance in an Andretti car. Just look what he did with the joint entry from Rick Ware/Dale Coyne. He won an Indy pole on the road course and had six top 10 finishes in 13 tries. Just think on what he can do with Andretti power.
- Scott McLaughlin – Another second year driver here but he’s in a Penske car and would be seeing these tracks for a second and even third time in some cases. McLaughlin, learned a lot in 2021 and I think he finds victory lane at some point next season.
- Jack Harvey – The rumored moved to RLL should be announced soon. He’s been on the cusp of a win multiple times over the last couple of years and I think this maneuver should help him be another first time winner in 2022.
- Felix Rosenqvist – A second season with AMSP should be just what Rosenqvist’s needs. He won with Ganassi and by the second half of this past season, looked like he did with them. We saw was Pato O’Ward can do. Now, it’s Rosenqvist’s turn to join the party and I think he does.
- Rinus VeeKay – He won this year with ECR and I almost sense 2022 could be a season like Josef Newgarden had with the organization. This would be his third with them and VeeKay had six top 10’s including a win and a runner-up in the first seven races of 2021. Then his injury happened and it was all downhill from there. With a fresh start this offseason now, if he improves from 2021 to 2022 like he did from 2020 to 2021, then the former rookie of the year is ready to shine.