Colton Herta

Today’s question: Which driver who won a race in 2022 but was winless in 2023 do you think will rebound with a victory and the strongest season in 2024?

Curt Cavin: Whoa, what a great question! At first blush, I was ready to write down Colton Herta’s name because he was the omission that I kept waiting to see in victory lane this year. But then it occurred to me that Pato O’Ward didn’t win a race and – can you believe it?! – Will Power also got shut out in 2023. Another big name to consider is Alexander Rossi, and that made this debate all the more intriguing. I’m legitimately torn here, with my head saying Herta and O’Ward will win races in 2024, but my heart says to select Power. So, Power it is. Mark him up for career win No. 42 to tie Michael Andretti for fourth place all time.

Eric Smith: After 16 straight seasons with at least one trip to victory lane, it’s hard to fathom Will Power going winless for a second straight year. It’s also hard to see Arrow McLaren going winless for another season, too, especially when two-thirds of its driver lineup is Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi. However, I’ll snag Colton Herta here. While the 23-year-old has just one trip to victory lane in his last 34 starts, Herta is more than capable of rattling off wins in bunches. He had four victories in his previous 19 starts before that mark. Plus, and most importantly, one of the top storylines heading into 2024 is Andretti Global downsizing from four full-time cars to three. When Team Penske did this exact move a couple of seasons ago, its program improved dramatically. Penske made the jump from three combined wins and 13 total podiums among four drivers in 2021 to nine wins and 22 podiums across three drivers in 2022. If Andretti takes that same step, Herta is poised to benefit the most. As a seven-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES winner, I expect Herta to become who we thought he’d be in 2024.

Paul Kelly: Pato O’Ward, for a few reasons. One, of all the winless drivers in 2023 who took a checkered flag first in 2022, O’Ward’s drought was most inexplicable. He finished fourth in the standings – the top spot for any non-winner in 2023. He is the senior member and leader of Arrow McLaren and won two races with the team in both 2021 and 2022. Alexander Rossi has more career victories than O’Ward but none in his one season with Arrow McLaren last year – sometimes it takes time to assimilate into a new team. Plus, I just have this sense O’Ward is ready for a “when it rains, it pours” breakout season of multiple victories. That could happen next year. Finally, O’Ward has made no secret about his future Formula One ambitions and climbing McLaren Racing’s F1 pecking order after being named a reserve driver a few weeks ago. The only way you stay on the radar of F1 team bosses is by winning. As for Will Power, it’s not easy to grab wins against two teammates who both won races and finished in the top five of the standings in 2023. Colton Herta? His drought will push two years when the season starts in March in St. Petersburg, and while I agree with Eric that slimming from four to three cars will help, will that reduction only balance out Andretti Global’s F1 ambitions and its active programs in numerous other global series and not provide a true competitive advantage? I’m not sure. So, I think Pato is more of a sure thing.