Indy Lights car delay explained


A lack of clarity and concise decisions over the IndyCar Series’ future direction under new management is cited as the main reason why the supporting Firestone Indy Lights Series’ new car has been delayed, according to Autosport.

Series director Tony George Jr. explained the reasoning why Indy Lights’ new car, slated for a debut in 2014, has been postponed indefinitely.

“This is a big decision that is going to require long-term commitments, and I think that [IndyCar] management is still deciphering where we need to head,” he said. “Any time that you create a long-term plan, all the other, smaller, short-term plans that go into that may need to be altered to some degree.”

The Indy Lights series began in its current incarnation in 2002, and was then known as the Infiniti Pro Series. It’s had the same car for that entire time.

The current Dallara chassis, like its big brother Dallara IR03 on the IndyCar side, initially was designed only for oval racing. It has been modified to accommodate an increased amount of racing on the road and street courses.

At the moment, Indy Lights has less than 10 confirmed drivers for its 2013 season. The series is the top of IndyCar’s Mazda Road to Indy rung; all races will be televised on NBC Sports Network this season.

Expected Indy Lights champions on the 2013 grid include JR Hildebrand, Josef Newgarden and Tristan Vautier. Other Indy Lights graduates currently racing in IndyCar include James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Sebastian Saavedra, Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal and Ed Carpenter.

Brazilian veterans Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves have also raced in Indy Lights in its former incarnation, before each graduated to the CART series in 1998. Kanaan won the 1997 Indy Lights title.

IndyCar Power Rankings: Pato O’Ward moves to the top entering Texas Motor Speedway


The NBC Sports IndyCar power rankings naturally were as jumbled as the action on the streets of St. Petersburg after a chaotic opener to the 2023 season.

Pato O’Ward, who finished second because of an engine blip that cost him the lead with a few laps remaining, moves into the top spot ahead of St. Pete winner Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi, who finished fourth in his Arrow McLaren debut. Scott Dixon and St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who led 31 laps) rounded out the top five.

St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who started first at St. Pete after capturing his second career pole position) Callum Ilott (a career-best fifth) and Graham Rahal entered the power rankings entering the season’s second race.

Three drivers fell out of the preseason top 10 after the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – including previously top-ranked Josef Newgarden, who finished 17th after qualifying 14th.

Heading into Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, here’s NBC Sports’ assessment of the current top 10 drivers through the first of 17 races this year (with previous preseason rankings in parenthesis):

NBC Sports’ IndyCar Power Rankings

1. Pato O’Ward (5) – If not for the dreaded “plenum event” in the No. 5 Chevrolet, the Arrow McLaren driver is opening the season with a victory capping a strong race weekend.

2. Marcus Ericsson (7) – He might be the most opportunistic driver in IndyCar, but that’s because the 2022 Indy 500 winner has become one of the series’ fastest and most consistent stars.

3. Alexander Rossi (10) – He overcame a frustrating Friday and mediocre qualifying to open his Arrow McLaren career with the sort of hard-earned top five missing in his last years at Andretti.

4. Scott Dixon (3) – Put aside his opening-lap skirmish with former teammate Felix Rosenqvist, and it was a typically stealthily good result for the six-time champion.

5. Romain Grosjean (NR) – The St. Petersburg pole-sitter consistently was fastest on the streets of St. Petersburg over the course of the race weekend, which he couldn’t say once last year.

6. Scott McLaughlin (6) – Easily the best of the Team Penske drivers before his crash with Grosjean, McLaughlin drove like a legitimate 2023 championship contender.

7. Callum Ilott (NR) – A quietly impressive top five for the confident Brit in Juncos Hollinger Racing’s first race as a two-car team. Texas will be a big oval litmus test.

8. Graham Rahal (NR) – Sixth at St. Pete, Rahal still has the goods on street courses, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan remains headed in the right direction.

9. Alex Palou (4) – He seemed a step behind Ericsson and Dixon in the race after just missing the Fast Six in qualifying, but this was a solid start for Palou.

10. Will Power (2) – An uncharacteristic mistake that crashed Colton Herta put a blemish on the type of steady weekend that helped him win the 2022 title.

Falling out (last week): Josef Newgarden (1), Colton Herta (8), Christian Lundgaard (9)