With the IndyCar season in the books and a limited amount of news to come since the season finale at Fontana, my MotorSportsTalk colleague Chris Estrada and are taking a look back at the 2013 season just past. Chris and I each ranked our top 10 drivers and some of the biggest stories; now we take a look back at the field driver-by-driver.
Naturally, we’ll start at the top with now three-time champion Scott Dixon…
2013 SEASON PREVIEW
- Team: Target Chip Ganassi Racing
- 2012: 3rd Place, 2 Wins, 1 Pole
- 2013: Champion, 4 Wins, 2 Poles, 6 Podiums, 10 Top-5, 12 Top-10, 239 Laps Led, 9.6 Avg. Start, 8.1 Avg. Finish
DiZinno says: Determined, driven and at times dominant, Dixon delivered another championship on the stretch of a back-breaking second half of the season. He made the most of the bad days in the first half – notably at St. Pete – and of course coupled with the engine enhancements from Honda, setup gains from the ballyhooed midsummer Sebring test, and a resiliency to rebound after several gut punches made for a thrilling comeback. After a few years where luck didn’t go his way, and even with a few races where it didn’t this year either, Dixon promptly stepped up and earned the title in 2013.
Estrada says: Moral of the season: Never count Dixon out. After a late engine misfire doomed him to a 16th place finish at Iowa, he was 92 points behind Helio Castroneves at seventh in the championship. But then came Pocono, and armed with a newly updated Honda engine, Dixon began his charge back into contention with the first of three consecutive victories. Later on, he had his back-to-back disasters at Sonoma and Baltimore that left him 49 points behind Castroneves with three races to go. What does he do? He puts up a win, a second, and a fifth to overtake the Brazilian for the title in a brilliant display that defined the phrase “refuse to lose.”
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.