Colton Herta

Note: The INDYCAR Writers’ Roundtable is taking the opportunity of the two-week break in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule to analyze the first eight races of the 17-race season and offer discussion and opinions about a variety of topics in the first half of the season. This multipart series will run daily through Friday, June 24.

Today’s question: Which driver most needs a strong second half of the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season?

Curt Cavin: The obvious answer is Felix Rosenqvist. McLaren announced he was re-signed for 2023 but didn’t name whether he would drive for the team’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES or Formula E outfits. The “other” Swede has had a good last five weeks, with four consecutive top-10 finishes, including the dynamite run in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge that resulted in a fourth-place finish. Rosenqvist, who is eighth in the standings, is one of the nicest people in this paddock, and he has earned the respect of his peers, particularly Scott Dixon, whom he drove with in 2019 and 2020.

Zach Horrall: Scott McLaughlin is definitely going to be looking to find the form he had at the beginning of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season when he won the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding and led the championship after the first two races of the season. Since he finished second at Texas, he’s scored just two top 10s. Granted, he’s had some bad luck and missed strategies, but McLaughlin needs to play catch up if he wants to be the fourth consecutive driver to win the first race of the season en route to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship.

Paul Kelly: Like Curt, I look to Felix Rosenqvist. But reading between the lines of McLaren’s press release June 23 announcing his new contract, it sure sounds like he may head back to Formula E in 2023, creating a plum open seat for the third Arrow McLaren SP car alongside Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi next season. So, I’ll move to another driver – Colton Herta. With Rossi’s departure next season to AMSP, Herta – just 22 -- will become the senior driver at Andretti Autosport and the unofficial team leader. Herta drove to a stirring victory in May in mixed conditions at the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis, but that has been the highlight of an otherwise tough season. He is just 11th in the standings after eight races during a year in which he was expected to contend for a championship. Herta is 97 points behind leader Marcus Ericsson, which seems to be too tall of a peak to scale. But few NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers have as much natural speed as Herta, who is capable of ripping off a streak of consecutive victories at any time. He’ll need that to climb back into contention.