IndyCar 2021 Rookie of Year chase stacked with veterans

Normally, one would think of IndyCar rookies as youngsters graduating from the Road-To-Indy ladder series up to the big leagues.

However, this year’s IndyCar rookie class includes some of the biggest names in motorsport.  Let’s have a look at the Rookie Class of 2021 that we know about so far.

Team No. Driver Primary Sponsor 2021 IndyCar Rookie Analysis
Chip Ganassi Racing 48 Jimmie Johnson Carvana 7-Time NASCAR Cup Champion. Johnson will only run the road course and street circuit races. He’s likely to struggle to win in IndyCars because 1) switching from front-engine stock cars to rear engine IndyCars is difficult, 2) Age – he is older than many IndyCar drivers and reflexes tend to slow.  However, Johnson is determined to prove us wrong, and he’s with the 2nd best, some might argue the best, IndyCar team.
Dale Coyne Racing 51 Romain Grosjean Guaranteed Rate? 10-year F1 veteran. Grosjean is a fast driver. He crashes a lot but that is because he was forced to try too hard to make his inferior F1 car fast. Now that he has equal near-spec IndyCar equipment, look out. If Grosjean and his French F1 engineer can come to terms with the IndyCar quickly, we will see some podiums, and perhaps even a win out of the Frenchman. Like Johnson, he is skipping the ovals (although he may give Gateway a go) so winning the Rookie of the Year title will be hard.
Team Penske 3 Scott McLaughlin Shell, PPG 4-Time Supercars Champion. McLaughlin is with the best team in IndyCar, but like Johnson, making the switch from front-engine saloon cars to rear engine IndyCars will take at least a year to perfect. Since he is running all the races, he is the odds on favorite to win the Rookie of the Year title.
Carlin Racing TBD TBD TBD Trevor Carlin wants to run a 2nd car, and it’s likely if he does it will be with a funded rookie driver
Rahal Letterman Lanigan 45 Antonio Felix da Costa TBD 6-year Formula E veteran and defending champion, da Costa has has been talking to RLL about jumping to IndyCar, but the search for a sponsor remains elusive so far

Mark C. reporting for