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An aspiring motorsports journalist’s personal blog.
Just weeks away from the season-opening event in St. Petersburg, FL, we examine a few prospects for the upcoming season. Aside from the usual suspects in the hunt for the championship, here are a few dark horses who may take the IndyCar title in 2013.
1. Sebastien Bourdais
In his second year with Dragon Racing, Sebastien Bourdais is due for a return to his winning ways. The Frenchman won the final four titles of the now defunct Champ Car series in dominant fashion and showed all the potential in 2012 that he displayed from 2004-2007. Battling engine gremlins with the underdog Lotus power-plant, Bourdais was largely hindered from showing the Jay Penske owned team’s potential. With a committed effort for 2013 and Chevy power, Bourdais banks on his best bet to compete for wins and podiums since his Champ Car days.
2. James Hinchcliffe
Hinch enters his third year in the IndyCar series coming off a solid sophomore year performance with Andretti Autosport. The young Canadian moved into the prime GoDaddy seat vacated by Danica Patrick at the end of 2011. Following a year of steady results highlighted by a few podiums and, at one point, running as high as second in the standings, The Mayor looks as a prime candidate to grace the top step of the podium this season. With Andretti Autosport’s knack for colluding (and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s championship-winning experiences from last year,) there’s plenty of potential for Hinch to threaten the veterans in 2013.
3. Josef Newgarden
A rookie in 2012, Newgarden showed flashes of brilliance at times. Driving for the underdogs Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Newgarden moved mountains on a shoestring budget. The American put his DW12 on the front row at Long Beach, just his third race. His aggression got the better of him, however, as he put it in the wall trying to overtake past champion, Dario Franchitti, in the opening laps of the race. Reliability issues and rookie mistakes hampered the 22 year-old as his best finish was only 12th at Mid-Ohio. Heading into 2013, Newgarden has gained invaluable experience and could easily see the front of the pack this season.
4. Oriol Servia
Servia, the always underrated Spaniard, signed on with Dreyer Reinbold Racing for 2012 after the untimely and unfortunate demise of Newman/Haas Racing. Making the most of Lotus power, Servia placed 11th in the Sao Paulo round, one of the highest placings for any of the Lotus powered cars. After Sao Paulo, DRR dumped Lotus and signed on to a joint effort with Panther Racing. With the partnership, Oriol welcomed the shift to Chevy power. In his first race with the new engine maker, Servia placed fourth at Indy. Servia added a few more fourths to the season tally. Although never on the podium in 2012, Servia remained consistently in the top-10 for much of the second half of the season. In 2013, Servia looks to build on the moderate successes of the previous year and could be a serious threat in the points when the circus arrives at Fontana.
5. Simon Pagenaud
In his full-time return to American open-wheel racing since Champ Car’s demise, Frenchman Simon Pagenaud put in some amazing drives for the one-car effort of Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports. Few picked Pagenaud to immediately join the front runners when he emerged as the Honda-powered team’s driver at the opening of last year, but they should have. In his first start, Pagenaud finished sixth. Pagenaud frequented the top-10 in 2012, finishing as high as second at Long Beach. Despite his consistent finishes on road and street courses, Pagenaud seemed to find difficulty in figuring out the oval side of the IndyCar schedule. He managed to muster out a top-5 at Iowa as his best finish on an oval in 2012. After a year to gain confidence on the ovals, however, Pagenaud’s building chemistry with his team could prove a formidable threat to the usual front-runners in the championship.
I apologize for a lack of content over the weekend. I was out of town and away from computer access for much of the weekend to attend a baptism for my niece. With that in mind, here’s a brief look at what’s happening in the racing world since Friday night.
Michael Shank Racing Wins Rolex 24: After years of trying, the Michael Schank Racing team won their first Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team, consisting of A.J. Allmendinger, Oz Negri, John Pew and Justin Wilson, fought off a hard-charging Ryan Dalziel in his Starworks Motorsports entry to win the famed event by a mere 5.2 seconds. The narrow margin of victory marked one of the closest finishes in endurance racing history. The win also gives strong momentum to the Michael Shank Racing squad as they begin the endeavor into a new field of racing: IndyCar. Full results from the Rolex 24 here.
Tracy to MSR in 2012?: Speaking of Rolex 24 winners, Michael Shank Racing, there have been strong indications that a deal to sign 22-year IndyCar veteran and 2003 CART Champion, Paul Tracy, to their IndyCar program. Tracy was in Daytona competing against MSR in Doran Racing’s DP. ““I’m trying to do a deal with Michael Shank to start an IndyCar team with himself and AJ Allmendinger,” Tracy told Speed.com’s Marshall Pruett. “We have a sponsor lined up. We need to put together an engine program this week and tie up a couple of other lose (sic) ends of some other contractual stuff, and if we can do that, then we’ll get the car put together and try to get to Sebring to test.” One obstacle facing Tracy and MSR are the sponsor connections Tracy has to Honda-Canada. MSR signed an engine contract with Lotus but, should Tracy bring Honda dollars and connections, the MSR team may be easily coaxed into signing on with Honda instead. Tracy has been on the hunt for a full time IndyCar ride since the last year of Champ Car in 2007 when he drove for Gerry Forsythe’s team.
IndyCar Teams Resume Testing, Barrichello Turns First Laps: A large group of IndyCar teams have returned to a testing regimen to prepare the new DW12s for competitive action. KV Racing, Andretti Autosport, Dreyer and Reinbold and Panther Racing have all turned laps at Sebring today with more expected to join the group this week. The test marks the first time new Andretti Autosport driver, James Hinchcliffe, dons his new GoDaddy.com colors. The one stealing the spotlight in Sebring, however, is an IndyCar rookie having only turned his first laps in an IndyCar but a few hours ago. The rookie comes highly recommended though by much of the paddock, especially Tony Kanaan. Of course, we’re talking about the most experience Formula One driver in history, Rubens Barrichello. The Brazilian is evaluating a potential run in the IndyCar series this year following his departure from WilliamsF1. Officially, the test is set only to allow Barrichello to provide his expertise feedback on the new car’s development. But many, including Barrichello, have left open the possibility to run in IndyCar.
Barrichello’s first departure from pit lane in an IndyCar was posted to KV Racing’s youtube channel and can be seen below.
Sutil Attempted Resolution with Lux: German F1 driver, Adrian Sutil, attempted to resolve the bar fight saga with Lotus Team Executive, Eric Lux, out of court it has emerged. Sutil realizes the outcome of the case largely determines what will become of his career. He acknowledged attempts to resolve the situation out of court with Lux, whom he cut with a broken glass in a Shanghai night club. The 28- year old talked to SID news agency about the severity of the situation. “I’m sorry, extremely sorry, I didn’t want it to happen,” Sutil said. The former Force India driver told SID despite appealing to Lux out of court, Lux had no interest and “wanted to destroy” Sutil. Lux received phone calls from Sutil in his efforts to apologize, but Lux never accepted the calls. “I expected him to come to Luxembourg and apologize to me. A call is not enough,” Lux testified. Sutil and Lux did discuss resolutions but none were agreed upon. Sutil claimed Lux’s demands were outlandish and involved a “very, very high amount” of money as well as Sutil’s sitting out of numerous Grands Prix.
James Hinchcliffe announced via Twitter he has signed to drive the Andretti Autosport GoDaddy.com car, vacated by Danica Patrick.
The seat had been destined for Dan Wheldon but the team was left scrambling for a driver following Wheldon’s untimely death at the IndyCar season finale in Las Vegas. Stepping into what would have been Wheldon’s ride left Hinchcliffe with some reservations. “There’s no doubt that weighed on me from the first phone call,” he said.
Hinchcliffe was humbled by his nomination for the former Champion and Indy 500 winner’s seat, “I’m going to think about him every time I get in that car. There’s no doubt that a part of me will be driving for Dan this year,” he added.
Details of Hinchcliffe’s contract were not released at the time of publishing.
Hinchcliffe will step into the black and green liveried GoDaddy car for Andretti Autosport with Chevrolet power. The 2012 IndyCar season kicks off on March 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.