IndyCar's next wave proving kids are more than all right

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Rinus VeeKay, of The Netherlands, races his car during practice for an IndyCar Series auto race Saturday, July 18, 2020, at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

NEWTON, Iowa – If only the English rock band The Who didn’t procure the name “The Kids Are Alright” for its 1979 documentary, it would have been the perfect title for this year’s wild and unpredictable IndyCar season.

Then again, the young guns have been better than just all right through the first six races.

There was 19-year-old Rinus VeeKay with a top-5 finish on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his second career race. Twenty-year-old Colton Herta was the only driver with top-10 runs in each of the first four races. Brash 22-year-old Santino Ferrucci had two sixth-place finishes at Road America. Twenty-year-old Pato O'Ward and 23-year-old Alex Palou earned their first podiums the same weekend, while 23-year-old Oliver Askew did the same this weekend in Iowa.

“I think going into this weekend I had quite a bit of confidence,” said Askew, the reigning IndyLights champ, “and honestly, now that I've dusted up with these top guys in the IndyCar field — (Alexander) Rossi and (Scott) Dixon and guys I've looked up to for so long — to be racing them now is a great boost for me and the future.”

The future of IndyCar, too.

Not that Dixon, the series leader after another strong weekend in Iowa, is going anywhere. Two-time and defending champ Josef Newgarden, who won the second race of the Iowa doubleheader, has yet to turn 30. Indy 500 winners Rossi, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay may fast become the elder statesmen of the series, but they are all still within their prime. Pagenaud, who like Newgarden drives for Team Penske, won the first Iowa race on Friday night.

But there has been some turnover within IndyCar over the last few years. Helio Castroneves stepped out of Team Penske's full-time ride after the 2017 to run sports cars. Sebastien Bourdais is driving a part-time IndyCar schedule. Fan favorite Tony Kanaan has called this his final season, picking a handful of races to run for A.J. Foyt Racing.

The natural ebb and flow of sports dictates there must be a wave of youngsters waiting to replace them.