Josef Newgarden

Today’s question: Which NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver would you like to see in the Daytona 500 field this Sunday at Daytona International Speedway?

Curt Cavin: There are scads of interesting options. I’ve always leaned toward Scott Dixon given his tactical approach to driving a race car, a valuable skillset in a 500-mile pack race. But now I’m thinking about those last two or three restarts where it’s go time. There, aggression is usually rewarded, and what better driver than to have the fast hands Pato O’Ward at work. Pato’s place in the field would be stirring, and he’d likely lose as many “friends” in the field as he’d gain, which would be fun to watch. On that point I’d advise him to not turn a NASCAR driver the way he turned Dixon last year at Long Beach, but then again maybe that would spark an exciting post-race scrap. So, yeah, give me Pato!

Eric Smith: Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen, who won the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race on the streets of Chicago last July, has made NASCAR his new home in 2024. Last year’s champion of the series that’s so popular in Australia and New Zealand, Brodie Kostecki, raced in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard last August at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and has his sights set on a NASCAR future. So, my pick is the driver that preceded them as Supercars champion, Scott McLaughlin. Scotty Mac won three straight Supercars championships (2018-20) before moving to Team Penske in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Why not witness McLaughlin giving the Daytona 500 a try? He could have two familiar faces as drafting partners already. Plus, McLaughlin has found success on INDYCAR SERIES ovals early in his open-wheel career. Among his 17-career top-five finishes in the INDYCAR SERIES, eight have come on ovals.

Paul Kelly: I’m a master of the obvious, so I thank Curt and Eric for leaving me with the absolute no-brainer pick: Team Penske's Josef Newgarden. Joe New is the master of ovals in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, winning four of the five oval races on the 2023 schedule. In fact, 15 of his 29 career wins have come on circle tracks, which borders on domination considering only around a third of each season consists of oval races. Sure, Daytona is an alien circuit with its 31-degree banking in the corners. But three of Newgarden’s roundy-round wins have come at Texas Motor Speedway, which has banking ranging from 20 to 24 degrees, the tallest turns of any oval where he has won. Yes, the art of full-contact drafting is very different in a stock car than in an INDYCAR SERIES car. But Newgarden is so skilled at oval racing that I think he would do more than just make up the numbers at the aerodynamic lottery known as the Daytona 500. I think he would be a legitimate threat to join A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti as the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500. What do you say, Roger? Got a spare car for Joe New in February 2025? I’d love to see it.