The 2013 IndyCar season is behind us as the season wrapped up with a good old fashion 500 miler in Fontana. This season proved to be a pretty competitive one with ten different race winners in the nineteen race schedule. Four of those winners were first time winners in IndyCar and they were James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud, and Charlie Kimball. Scott Dixon picks up his third IndyCar title and his first since 2008. Tristian Vaultier won the Rookie of the Year title. Chevrolet won the manufactuer’s title for the second season in a row and Tony Kanaan won the series Most Popular Driver award.
This season review will feature my choices for top races, and my favorite moments of the 2013 IndyCar season.
MAVTV 500 at Fontana
Wheel to wheel racing, exciting restarts, attrition, the season finale at Fontana had it all. Twenty eight lead changes among eleven different drivers as Will Power scored his first true oval win. Power’s other oval win came in the second race of the 2011 Firestone Twin 275’s at Texas. Out of the twenty five entries, only nine would finish the race and only five finished on the leader lap. It certainly had the feel of a old fashion 500 mile race. Will Powers drive at Fontana reminded me in a way of a former IndyCar great who also drove for Penske and that is Rick Mears who still is with Team Penske as a driver coach/consultant. Looks like the Rocket has taught Power well. If Will Power has the ovals figured out, and it looks like he has, he is sure to be a preseason favorite for the 2014 IndyCar title.
Sao Paulo Indy 300
This race saw one of the most exciting finishes ever on a street circuit as Takuma Sato got passed by James Hinchcliffe on the final turn of the final lap to grab his second career IndyCar victory. As of right now, the Sao Paulo street circuit is not on the 2014 IndyCar schedule. There has been some talk about possibly being added later, but unlikely at this point. Personally I hope they return as this Tony Cotman designed circuit is among my favorites for a street circuit.
If you thought the 2012 edition of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing was competitive, then 2013 would not disappoint you. A race record sixty eight lead changes, shattering the record of thirty four set in 2012. There were fourteen different leaders breaking the record of twelve set in 1993. A new race record was also set as the race averaged 187.433 mph breaking Arie Luyendyk’s 1990 record of 185.981 mph. Tony Kanaan in his twelfth start at Indy, after so many heartbreaks finally grabbed his first Indianapolis 500 win.
My Favorite Moments of the 2013 IndyCar Season
Return to Pocono
After a twenty four year hiatus, IndyCar returned to the Tricky Triangle as the race weekend had a pretty decent race crowd and a competitive race as Ganassi finished 1-2-3 with Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball, and Dario Franchitti. This years event was only 400 miles but will return to the 500 mile format next season making all three races of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown 500 miles a piece.
First Time Winners
IndyCar had four first time winners in 2013 with James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud, and Charlie Kimball. All four are popular drivers in IndyCar and are deserving winners. All four should be competitive in the years to come in IndyCar. As a racing fan, its always good to see a first time winner.
Ed Carpenter Winning the Pole for the Indianapolis 500
One of the more thrilling moments I had the privilege of seeing in person this season was Ed Carpenter winning the pole for the 2013 Indianapolis 500. As I sat in Stand E, the crowd was pure pandemonium every time Ed drove by in his Fast Nine Pole run. Theres no doubt Ed is among the fan favorites in Indianapolis. Winning the pole in your hometown track is special, butwinning your hometown race, especially the biggest one of the year would be even more special.
Tony Kanaan (finally) winning the Indianapolis 500
Another great moment I got to witness in person. Tony Kanaan after so many tries and heartbreaks, finally got his Indianapolis 500 victory. Sitting in the Southwest Vista, the crowd again like they were with Ed Carpenter winning the pole, was pure pandemonium when Tony Kanaan grabbed the lead for the final time and was able to hold on to win. I have been going to Indy in a shape of form since 1993 and I have never seen so much cheering for one driver like they did with Tony Kanaan. A very popular Indianapolis 500 victory for sure.
As there were great moments of the 2013 IndyCar season. There were some disappointments. The Firestone 550 at Texas comes to mind for me. The race was the first ever to be broadcast on primetime on network television for the sport. This years Texas was just dull as we are use to seeing at Texas. Series officials were just a bit off on the aero package and Derrick Walker who is the competition president for IndyCar took full responsibility and vowed to improve by next years event at the one and a half mile oval.
Will Power was somewhat of a disappoint of the 2013 season. Power did finish the season strong with victories at Sonoma, Houston, and Fontana, but the first three quarters of the season seemed like a nightmare. I predicted before the start of the year that Power was my pick to be champion, but unfortunate incidents, a slow start, and bad luck prevented Power from seriously contending for the 2013 championship. With the way Power finished 2013, I tend to believe Will Power will once again become a favorite for the IndyCar title.
IndyCar is now without a title sponsor as Izod announced it would leave as the series title sponsor after the conclusion of the season. For the first season and a half of its deal, Izod seem to do well with sponsor activation and then all of a sudden all they were seeming to do is write the checks. To me that isn’t being a good title sponsor, but I am sure Izod had its reasons. Who will be the next title sponsor for IndyCar? I have a hunch of which companies might be next, but I’ll leave that in a future post.
Overall, it was a enjoyable season in IndyCar. Just about as entertaining as last season. I think the DW12 chassis has proven to bring an excellent product of racing to this series. Offseason improvements to the chassis should make the car even more raceable.
Before we know it, IndyCar will be back on the streets of St. Pete to kick off the 2014 season. For the offseason, I will be continuing with posts as I have some ideas on what to write about in the offseason. For the latest, just follow me on Twitter @sklein31.