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The 2024 IndyCar season has only just begun, and silly season rumors are flying around. One of them is regarding 2-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden. He is currently contracted to Team Penske for the 2024 campaign, but his future beyond that is in the air. In essence, the veteran driver is pretty much a free agent in the IndyCar market, and anyone can snap him up.

Among the prospective suitors is Arrow McLaren, who is currently fielding Pato O’Ward, David Malukas, and Alexander Rossi. Additionally, they are also partnering with Hendrick Motorsports so that Kyle Larson can have a shot at the Indy 500. When 2025 arrives, there are suggestions that Arrow McLaren could try to sink their claws into Newgarden and coax him over.

How did this game of musical chairs begin in IndyCar?

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Now, if some rumors are to be believed, the whole thing was triggered, thanks to Alex Palou. Back in 2022, Chip Ganassi Racing announced a contract extension with Palou. This was pretty much standard news, but the big twist was when the Spaniard denied the claim and announced his intention to leave. In essence, this was Oscar Piastri-Alpine all over again, but the consequences were more disastrous.

Then, McLaren confirmed that they had signed Palou, and Chip Ganassi was taking things lying down. Things escalated to CGR filing a lawsuit against Palou before they reached a settlement. In 2024, Alex Palou was expected to join McLaren but got cold feet at the last minute. This time, the Spaniard was facing a lawsuit from McLaren. The British outfit’s lawyers filed a claim that Palou, who was backing out of his 3-year deal, was responsible for various expenses. Among those expenses was Pato O’Ward’s two-year contract extension worth $8.2 million.

 

Normally, IndyCar closely guards the driver’s salary figures, so many have to rely on guesstimates. So this was one of the rare occasions where an IndyCar driver’s contract details have been laid bare. With that in mind, what does this mean for the IndyCar market in 2025? Josef Newgarden had reportedly signed an extension in 2021, and that deal was expected to last for three seasons.

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Josef Newgarden was very coy about his contract situation

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Of course, the 33-year-old was quizzed about the situation. He simply said that he does not discuss contracts publicly. Obviously, Team Penske doesn’t want to let go of their man so easily, and president Tim Cindric admitted that negotiations are ongoing. Now, the ball is in Roger Penske’s court, especially after calls to increase his support for IndyCar. Could Newgarden be convinced to sign, or would the more cash-rich Arrow McLaren be too tempting?

READ MORE: Lando Norris Joins Pato O’Ward in Celebration as McLaren Driver Puts a Ring on Girlfriend’s Finger

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This is what Newgarden said about O’Ward’s contract, “Yeah, it’s interesting. The news that comes out nowadays is very interesting, but I’m not surprised. It’s undeniable that the health of some segments of the sport. There’s no doubting it, and I think it’s really encouraging for everybody. I don’t think it hurts anybody. I don’t think it hurts anybody, is what I would say.

Cindric admitted that Team Penske has been patient with its experienced drivers and has kept an eye on the future. Now, the onus is on them to hand Newgarden a new contract, as he is pretty much the most valuable free agent. There may come a point where they will have to beat off the competition with a stick, especially a rival of Arrow McLaren’s caliber. Alexander Rossi is already under contract, and David Malukas inked a multi-year deal. So would Josef Newgarden keep his faith in Penske or tread new ground?