Sage Karam leads Gabby Chaves at Houston (IndyCar)

Indy Lights gets nine cars for season finale

1 Comment

More will come Wednesday on the championship battle between Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate Sage Karam and Gabby Chaves for the Firestone Indy Lights Series season finale.

Today, though, a brief look at the entry list for the Lefty’s Kids Club 100 (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN) reveals several other things.

Jack Hawksworth and Carlos Munoz will be eliminated when the race begins. Although they are within a mathematical range (35 and 36 points behind, respectively), they will not be able to gain enough points assuming Karam and Chaves both start the race.

The maximum available points gained this weekend will be 31 with nine cars entered – 53 for a win, pole and leading the most laps, and 22 for ninth place.

Kyle O’Gara returns for the first time since Indianapolis in a fourth SPM entry, with support from Wink Hartman, Hartman Oil and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. The silver, blue and black that has adorned Josef Newgarden’s No. 67 IndyCar most of this season will be on O’Gara’s entry.

Giancarlo Serenelli will make his first career oval start in the No. 6 Belardi Auto Racing entry. Team Moore Racing, which ran Peter Dempsey and Conor Daly at Houston, had one potential driver for its No. 22 car this weekend but funding has apparently fallen through for that. Bryan Herta Autosport also won’t race as it did at Houston, with driver Axcil Jefferies.

Of the nine drivers entered, only Munoz and Serenelli’s two Belardi teammates, Jorge Goncalvez and Juan Pablo Garcia, have Fontana experience. Munoz won the race handily last year.

The last driver in the field after Karam, Chaves, Hawksworth, Munoz, O’Gara and the three Belardi drivers is Zach Veach, Munoz’s Andretti Autosport teammate.

This is the last race for Firestone in the series, as it signs off before Cooper Tires takes over next year. Daly and Tristan Vautier have spent time testing the Coopers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile.

F1 2017 driver review: Lewis Hamilton

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Following on from the driver reviews from the Verizon IndyCar Series, MotorSportsTalk kicks off its Formula 1 recaps by looking back on Lewis Hamilton’s championship year.

Lewis Hamilton

Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 44
Races: 20
Wins: 9
Podiums (excluding wins): 4
Pole Positions: 11
Fastest Laps: 7
Points: 363
Laps Led: 527
Championship Position: 1st

Lewis Hamilton may have wrapped up his fourth Formula 1 world title with two races to spare, but his margin of victory was far from representative of what was arguably his greatest championship victory yet.

Mercedes entered 2017 bidding to become the first team to defend its titles across a seismic regulation change, and appeared to be on the back foot early on after Ferrari impressed in pre-season testing and won the opening race through Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton was left wrestling with a “diva” of a car, as coined by Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, but was able to get on top of it by the second race of the year in China, taking a dominant win in wet-dry conditions.

The win was representative of Hamilton’s form through the first portion of the season. When he won, he won in style – as in Spain, Canada and on home soil in Great Britain – but the off weekends saw him struggle.

Heading into the summer break, Vettel’s championship lead stood at 14 points, with the pair’s on-track rivalry having already spilled over in Baku when they made contact behind the safety car.

But Hamilton then produced the form that propelled him to titles in 2014 and 2015, breaking the back of the season through the final flyaways. As Vettel and Ferrari capitulated over the Asian rounds, picking up just 12 points when a full score of 75 for three wins was certainly in reach, Hamilton capitalised and put himself on the brink of the title.

While Hamilton’s run to P9 in Mexico was a messy way to wrap up his hardest-fought title to date, getting across the line and the job done was a significant result.

Unlike his last two titles, Hamilton was tasked with an enemy outside of the team in this title race and a car that arguably wasn’t the fastest on the grid.

But his unquestionable talent and ability to dig deep to get himself out of tough situations – Singapore and Brazil being two key examples where the result was far from expected – proved crucial once again.

Hamilton is now in the annals of F1 history as one of its all-time greats. The pole record is his, and only two drivers can boast more world titles than him (Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio).

Depending on how long he wants to continue racing, going down as F1’s statistical all-time great is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

Season High: Charging from the pit lane to P4 in Brazil, a race he could have even won.

Season Low: Dropping out in Q2 in Monaco, only recovering to P7 in the race.