The highest 10 IndyCar drivers of 2022

October 8, 2022
The highest 10 IndyCar drivers of 2022

Let’s begin with those that didn’t make our prime 10. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s midseason revival resulted in Graham Rahal progressing from contending for prime 10s to preventing for prime fives whereas rookie Christian Lundgaard was capable of earn spots within the Firestone Quick Six and declare a runner-up end within the IMS street course’s second race.

Regardless of Lundgaard’s Rookie of the 12 months award win, and Rahal proving as robust as ever regardless of ending exterior the highest 10 within the championship for the primary time since 2014, neither fairly reaches our prime 10. They merely didn’t have the automobile to get sufficient accomplished at a few of RLL’s historically robust tracks.

If our prime 10 listing was based mostly solely on expertise, Romain Grosjean can be included – but it surely’s not, so he’s not. That is about type throughout the 2022 season, and for an excessive amount of of that, the previous F1 ace and IndyCar sophomore appeared unable to work inside the limitations of his Andretti equipment. In reality, there have been occasions when he didn’t register these limits, resulting in costly shunts, and each time he then tried to drive in a extra circumspect method, he turned nameless.

The issue, stated Grosjean, was that he and race engineer Olivier Boisson couldn’t get the #28 automobile to supply sufficient front-end grip to swimsuit his most well-liked sharp turn-in method. He was, nevertheless, quick each time the automobile was to his liking; at Laguna Seca he certified on the second row, declaring the automobile was now how he wished it. Too late to make an impression on the 2022 season.

One other driver worthy of point out within the nearly-but-not-quite class is Lundgaard’s rookie of the yr rival David Malukas. After a self-admittedly shaky begin for the Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports racer, the 2021 Indy Lights runner-up barely stopped impressing and outshone veteran teammate Takuma Sato most of the time. He seems set to be a star.

Lastly, point out have to be fabricated from Rinus VeeKay, a person who is aware of methods to win an IndyCar race however who couldn’t fairly obtain the feat in 2022. His pole place and podium end at Barber Motorsports Park demonstrated what he and Ed Carpenter Racing can obtain when every part works, however these days are too few at present.

Right here, then, is the highest 10:

10. Alexander Rossi

2022 was another difficult year on the whole for Rossi

2022 was one other troublesome yr on the entire for Rossi

Picture by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Photos

When his seventh season with Andretti Autosport appeared set to proceed as disastrously as his sixth, Alexander Rossi wished out. Between dangerous pitstops and automobile failures, the 31-year-old Californian was accomplished. Sarcastically (or coincidentally), issues began to enhance across the time it was introduced he was departing for Arrow McLaren SP. Fifth place within the 500 was adopted by runner-up place at Detroit, and a pole place and third place at Street America.

Then got here Mid-Ohio, the place he made contact with two of his Andretti Autosport team-mates, however two races later Rossi took benefit of Colton Herta’s DNF at IMS street course to seal a win he may need captured anyway. His eighth win had come greater than three years after his seventh.

On his greatest days, Rossi stays a possible winner, and his sheer dedication – and expertise – ought to allow that to be proven extra ceaselessly at his new group.

9. Felix Rosenqvist

Rosenqvist has done enough to earn himself another season at Arrow McLaren SP

Rosenqvist has accomplished sufficient to earn himself one other season at Arrow McLaren SP

Picture by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Photos

Felix Rosenqvist retained his focus this yr, regardless of the insanity swirling round him as Arrow McLaren SP was able to ditch him or change him to McLaren’s nascent Components E undertaking. Rosenqvist took pole at Texas, outpaced O’Ward in qualifying at Lengthy Seaside, took sixth within the moist GP Indy regardless of being spun by his teammate and dropping his entrance wing, completed a preventing fourth at Indy, after which scored third place at Toronto.

He was vastly unfortunate too. He and O’Ward may have scored an AMSP 1-2 at Mid-Ohio, perhaps with Rosenqvist forward having opted for a special tyre technique, however each automobiles failed. A few rounds later, Felix had pole within the second IMS street course race, however a dragging brake on raceday left him unable to fend off his rivals and he ultimately limped dwelling ninth. Closing out the yr with a fourth place at Laguna Seca, on a day when his team-mate may handle no higher than eighth, was a superb confidence-booster going into the low season. He deserves his third yr at AMSP.

8. Marcus Ericsson

Ericsson's Indy 500 win was the only serious highlight of his 2022 campaign

Ericsson’s Indy 500 win was the one critical spotlight of his 2022 marketing campaign

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Picture by: Scott R LePage / Motorsport Photos

How usually are you able to count on days within the solar whereas being instantly in contrast with team-mates six-time champion Scott Dixon and reigning champion Alex Palou? Marcus Ericsson proved you want just one, profitable a duel with Pato O’Ward on the Indy 500 to attain Ganassi’s fifth Indy 500 win, and its first for 10 years. Ericsson, who has loved ovals since he moved from Components 1 to IndyCar in 2019, stored his powder dry till the ultimate stint when he demoted the 2 Arrow McLaren SP automobiles of O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, after which stored his head straight through the race stoppage. He outfoxed O’Ward in these closing couple of laps to ship a tear-jerking win.

Elsewhere, Ericsson regarded nearly as good as his automobile, which is each a praise and a curse. Often he outperformed Dixon and Palou however scoring just one prime 5 within the second half of the season precipitated his title hopes to fade and highlighted a flaw that also wants addressing. Wonderful racecraft can’t at all times overcome qualifying deficits.

7. Colton Herta

It was an eye-catching season for Herta but lacked consistency to mount a title challenge

It was an eye catching season for Herta however lacked consistency to mount a title problem

Picture by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Photos

What a weird yr for a driver who’s so clearly an ace. Colton Herta, a driver whose composure was raved about in 2020 and 2021, made too many errors in ’22. His shunt at Lengthy Seaside – when he responded badly to main the primary stint after which dropping out in pitstops – was painfully paying homage to his frustration at Nashville the earlier yr. His back-flipping error on Carb Day at Indy led to a closely compromised automobile on double-points race day, which compelled him to retire early and successfully ended his title problem by the top of Might.

In between occasions, he scored an excellent victory within the moist on the Grand Prix of Indy, however eternally after he was preventing a rearguard motion and there have been days when he was outperformed by team-mate Alex Rossi. At Toronto he took his second pole of the yr and completed second Dixon, however transmission woes in Iowa 1 – and a halfshaft failure whereas showing set for victory within the second IMS street course race – just about ensured Herta can be exterior the highest 5 at yr’s finish. Clipping a barrier in qualifying at Portland and twice falling off the monitor at Laguna Seca additionally advised a driver pushing a tad too arduous.

That stated, the fuss round him is justified and a extra composed strategy to 2023 ought to earn him these valuable FIA superlicense factors.

6. Pato O’Ward

O’Ward impressed at times but wasn't able to kick on from 2021

O’Ward impressed at occasions however wasn’t capable of kick on from 2021

Picture by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Photos

Cash dissatisfaction, ill-feeling concerning Herta’s alternatives with McLaren’s F1 check group, and Arrow McLaren SP’s still-flaky efficiency traits in comparison with fellow Chevrolet runners Group Penske, appeared to convey out the worst in Pato O’Ward within the first couple of rounds of 2022. He regarded mistake-prone and was tending to overdrive. However within the fourth spherical he was immaculate on raceday and absolutely deserved his win, and mere days later he had a contract by means of to 2025 with improved wage and phrases.

O’Ward’s race to second within the Indy 500 was fairly good however he tarnished it by unsubtly laying his defeat on the ft of Chevrolet. Consequently, his mechanical DNFs at Street America (Chevy’s fault) and Mid-Ohio (group’s fault) didn’t elicit the identical sympathy as they could have accomplished.

His excellent Iowa performances – a second place and a fortunate win, each occasions forward of Energy – weren’t sufficient to stop his title problem disappearing with a twelfth within the second IMS street course race and a DNF in Nashville (by means of no fault of his personal). For O’Ward this was a irritating yr of treading water, largely as a result of group’s capricious type, however he’s courageous, supremely fast and a future champion.

5. Scott McLaughlin

It was a breakthrough season for McLaughlin at Team Penske

It was a breakthrough season for McLaughlin at Group Penske

Picture by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Photos

It’s arduous to recall an IndyCar driver’s transformation from spectacular rookie to undoubted ace as convincing as Scott McLaughlin’s between 2021 and ’22. Ben Bretzman – previously Simon Pagenaud’s engineer, however already a buddy and {golfing} buddy of McLaughlin – changed the sportscar-destined Jonathan Diuguid, and set about answering McLaughlin’s complaints from his first yr about struggling for traction on nook exits. Group Penske made strides on this space as a complete, however McLaughlin’s upward trajectory was steepest of all. He outduelled Energy for pole at St. Petersburg, and went on to win the race regardless of intense strain from Alex Palou, the identical driver he’d maintain off to win victory quantity two at Mid-Ohio.

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McLaughlin’s solely apparent black marks have been the spins beneath yellow, then inexperienced, within the moist GP of Indy after which a heavy shunt within the 500. He regarded misplaced set up-wise at Detroit, too.

Penske was foolhardy to not make McLaughlin hand over the result in Energy in Portland, however having (allegedly) informed him to make method for Newgarden at Gateway, perhaps group administration members have been detest to hamper him twice in consecutive races.

Regardless of the reasoning, Portland gave McLaughlin one other likelihood to he can’t be ruffled by a pursuing rival – a expertise that can serve him properly within the years forward.

4. Alex Palou

Palou's attempted breakaway from Chip Ganassi overshadowed his season

Palou’s tried breakaway from Chip Ganassi overshadowed his season

Picture by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Photos

What a distinction a yr makes. Palou went from being everybody’s second favorite driver, with an apparently magical skill to keep away from hassle and crush his rivals along with his consistency, to changing into somebody of questionable judgment off-track and no noticeable progress on it.

Make no mistake, he was nonetheless often glorious – he outperformed Dixon at St. Petersburg, Lengthy Seaside, Barber, Mid-Ohio and most clearly of all Laguna Seca. And that last-named race, ensuing a 30-second victory margin, was one of the vital ridiculously dominant performances by anybody within the final 5 seasons, and he needed to do it from eleventh on the grid.

However Palou additionally appeared able to these sorts of performances final yr. This time round, we wished to see improved oval performances, and whereas he was excellent at Indy, dueling with team-mate Dixon till struggling very dangerous luck with the timing of a warning interval, his different oval races have been lukewarm. There have been even days when he was fourth-best of the Ganassi drivers behind Dixon, Ericsson, and Jimmie Johnson. Most uncharacteristically, Palou additionally blamed the innocent Ericsson for his or her collision at Street America which put his personal automobile out.

However by then perhaps Palou wasn’t in the most effective mind-set, since he was in the course of a tug of affection between Ganassi and McLaren, with nobody guilty however himself…

But one way or the other Palou has landed on his ft; by remaining at Ganassi, he now has a top-rank IndyCar experience and he’s obtained an F1 check alternative with McLaren. Given his enormous expertise, Alex may properly benefit from each drives in 2023, however whether or not on-track success is sufficient to allow everybody to forgive his off-track imprudence in 2022 is but to be seen.

3. Scott Dixon

It was a classic Dixon IndyCar year but it wasn't enough for a historic title

It was a traditional Dixon IndyCar yr but it surely wasn’t sufficient for a historic title

Picture by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Photos

This might have been your typical Scott Dixon yr – shine however get shafted on the Indy 500, then scramble by means of to complete the yr on prime. As a substitute, he dominated Indy till he shafted himself with a barely too quick entry into the pitlane – actually, 1mph over the restrict – and needed to wait till Spherical 10 to attain his first victory.

However that drive at Toronto reminded everybody how straightforward Ganassi’s six-time champion could make it look, whereas his Nashville triumph was the very reverse. That was a chief instance of Dixon benefiting from what he’d obtained, triumphing from a mid-grid beginning slot, overcoming the time misplaced to unscheduled pitstops and driving a really broken automobile on worn-out tyres to victory lane. In years to return, this may occasionally come to be recognised as one of many best of the legend’s 53 triumphs.

On the draw back it can concern the Kiwi legend that he was usually outperformed by Palou – and it might concern him nonetheless extra that Palou is now staying at Ganassi! However Dixon will keep on being Dixon The Irrepressible, and will but have a record-equalling seventh championship in him.

One maxim of IndyCar is that Dixon can by no means be actually counted out. Keep in mind, 1mph much less on pitlane at Indy and he’d have over 70 factors extra, which might have sealed a second championship…

2. Will Energy

Minimal errors and unwavering consistency landed Power the 2022 IndyCar title - but not top spot here

Minimal errors and unwavering consistency landed Energy the 2022 IndyCar title – however not prime spot right here

Picture by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Photos

Will Energy declared that this was the yr during which he felt he needed to repay his crew for his or her years of devotion to his trigger by profitable them a championship and intentionally reined himself in at St. Petersburg, at Mid-Ohio and within the second Iowa race, prudently banking factors reasonably than pursuing victory.

It’s been written right here earlier than that in 2021 Alex Palou set the template for methods to win the IndyCar conflict, with eight podiums and a mean end of seven.3, however Energy took that to the following degree this yr with 9 top-threes and a mean end of 5.9.

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However you don’t lay all of it on the road in qualifying and rating 5 pole positions should you’re making an attempt to backpedal your option to a second championship. What he centered on was eliminating important errors and avoiding doubtlessly damaging conditions, and on this he was largely profitable.

Except for stalling within the pits within the Indy 500, Energy didn’t make any main gaffes on racedays. Keep in mind, too, that a lot of his prime fives have been restoration drives and, at Barber, you possibly can put the blame on him for needing to cost arduous from the second half of the grid. However that fourth place was excellent, and his poor qualifying place at Street America (which led to a lowly end after being punted by a backmarker) was additionally his fault.

At each Lengthy Seaside and Detroit, the place he gained, he was held up on his flying lap in qualifying. At Mid-Ohio, his group despatched him into the trail of one other automobile in Q1, so he was despatched to the again of the grid. But, the Australian stormed by means of to take third, whereas within the second Indy street course race he was bullied all the way down to seventeenth within the opening two laps, however on an unattainable gasoline technique got here by means of to complete third.

Fairly why his group elected to not give him contemporary tyres for the ultimate stint at Gateway, nobody is aware of, however salvaging sixth that day was as essential as eleventh with a crippled gearbox in Nashville.

He doesn’t make #1 slot right here as a result of as hockey nice Wayne Gretzky stated, you miss 100% of the photographs you don’t take, and so whereas Energy would possibly properly have gained these races the place he caught to his points-collecting coverage, we don’t know that he would have accomplished.

1. Josef Newgarden

Newgarden came close to the perfect IndyCar season

Newgarden got here near the proper IndyCar season

Picture by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Photos

When PeopleReady introduced it was to provide a $1m bounty to the primary driver to win on street, avenue and oval programs this season, many would have put cash on Josef Newgarden being the primary to attain it, however most likely didn’t reckon on him reaching it by midseason!

His late-race cost at Texas was exhilarating, he wasn’t going to be denied at Street America, but it surely was his opportunistic Lengthy Seaside triumph that impressed his teammate Will Energy. “Josef did an amazing job,” stated the eventual champion after ending fourth, “as a result of actually as a group I don’t suppose we have been even second-best that weekend. Andretti and Ganassi ought to have kicked our ass. However as soon as Josef obtained within the lead, he held off Grosjean and Palou with expertise, putting his automobile in the best method. Strong effort.”

Newgarden ought to have gained each races in Iowa, however a suspension failure pitched him into the wall in Race 2. But he nonetheless squeezed in a fifth win at Gateway; in accordance with excellent Autosport sources, through the rain delay, McLaughlin was requested to let the two-time champ by means of following the restart. You possibly can argue that he would have gained anyway, however there’s a sense that had he been held up in a battle along with his team-mate, Dale Coyne Racing’s David Malukas would have gotten the pair of them, as a substitute of merely splitting them on the chequered flag.

It could be mistaken guilty Newgarden’s third straight runner-up end completely on the Iowa mechanical situation. He was nameless at St. Petersburg, Barber and Indy 500 (like Energy, he stalled within the pitlane), and made what seemed to be a tactical blunder over tyre technique at Portland whereas making an attempt to recuperate from his grid penalty. He was additionally knocked out of the GP of Indy. But when one was to take a look at it by way of bald stats, reasonably than how they have been accrued, Newgarden’s situation was that he clocked up just one different podium apart from his 5 wins.

PLUS: Rating the highest 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

So, as in 2020, Newgarden was the most effective however missed out on the title. However in 2019 he clinched the championship when he wasn’t fairly the most effective, so perhaps all of it works out ultimately. And he can take solace from the man who beat him to the title this time round: Energy is aware of the sensation of being the most effective driver of the season and falling quick on the factors desk.

Do you agree with our top 10?

Do you agree with our prime 10?

Picture by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Photos