A few days have passed since the IZOD IndyCar Series concluded its 2013 season. Scott Dixon is champion, which is the easiest statistic to look at. But here’s some other intriguing bits of note from the season:
There were 10 different race winners, one shy of tying the record set in the 2000 and 2001 CART seasons. They were: James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato, Tony Kanaan, Mike Conway, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Will Power.
Some 20 different drivers scored at least one podium finish. Any of the above 10 were joined on the rostrum at some point this year by: Marco Andretti, Justin Wilson, Dario Franchitti, Sebastien Bourdais, Simona de Silvestro, Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter, Graham Rahal, James Jakes and Carlos Munoz.
Dixon’s title run was fueled by a second-half surge, as he scored 337 points in the last nine races, and no one else scoring more than 289. The top 10 scorers in the last nine races: Dixon 337, Power 289, Pagenaud 267, Wilson 245, Bourdais 237, Kimball 234, Castroneves 218, Franchitti 216, de Silvestro 210 and Andretti 207. Hinchcliffe (183), Newgarden (166) and Hunter-Reay (146) were next up.
That second-half change made for a drastically different overall top 10 compared to the first half of 2013, paced by Andretti Autosport. The points after 10 races were: Castroneves 332, Hunter-Reay 323, Andretti 277, Hinchcliffe 266, Kanaan 253, Pagenaud 241, Dixon 240, Sato 233, Wilson 227 and Power 209. E.J. Viso (203) and Franchitti (202) were next.
Power was the year’s best starter. The Australian’s starting average of 4.316 led Hunter-Reay (5.368), Andretti (8.895), Hinchcliffe (9.053), Castroneves (9.156) and Dixon (9.579). Those six were the only full-time drivers to boast a starting position average inside the top 10. Worst in the field was a tie between Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra, 17.737.
Power’s 103 laps led at Fontana also meant he led the most laps this year, with 351 of a possible 2,433 on point. Others over 100 included Hunter-Reay at 297, Hinchcliffe on 264, Andretti 259, Dixon and Castroneves each with 239, and Sato with 187. In all 25 of the 38 drivers who took the green flag this year led at least one lap.
Dixon scored the most points on road/street courses with 420 to Pagenaud’s 371 and Wilson’s 342, while Castroneves led the oval points with 215 to Hunter-Reay’s 209 and Kanaan’s 202. The separate Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt Trophies for road/street and oval championships were quietly retired this year, and not awarded.
Despite starting only 12 of 19 races, Oriol Servia scored only three fewer points than Saavedra (233 to 236), who was the lowest-placed driver to run all 19. Saavedra ended 21st in the standings.
All three series of the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires were last in action on the same day – May 25 – though at separate venues. The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Freedom 100, where Colton Herta emerged victorious.
Meanwhile, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda were at Lucas Oil Raceway for the Freedom 90 (Pro Mazda) and Freedom 75 (USF2000) – Parker Thompson and Kyle Kirkwood dominated their respective races and claimed victories to extend their championship leads.
All three series reunite at Road America for double headers this weekend, with a close title fight developing in Indy Lights, while the championship leaders in Pro Mazda and USF2000 (the aforementioned Thompson and Kirkwood) look to build on already strong leads.
Previews of all three series are below.
Colton Herta enters Road America as the hottest driver in the Mazda Road to Indy, having swept the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – he won both races on the IMS Road Course and outdueled Pato O’Ward, Dalton Kellett, and Santi Urrutia to win the Freedom 100. He leads O’Ward by six points, while Urrutia is 21 out of the lead, but don’t think that they’re the only ones who may factor into things.
Victor Franzoni had been getting better with every race, and had two podiums on the season entering the Freedom 100, but multiple problems saw him finish eighth and drop him to 50 points out of the lead. Franzoni appears to have the speed to challenge for wins, and he’ll need a win soon if he is to get into title contention.
Wisconsin native Aaron Telitz looks to rebound at his home track after a down weekend in the Freedom 100, in which he finished sixth. Teltiz had a run of fourth, third, and second in the three races prior, so the speed is most certainly there to steal a race win, and doing so at his home track would be a massive thrill for him.
Given that his Juncos Racing teammates, Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis, came into the season as perhaps slightly more heralded, it may surprise some that Cunha is the closest rival to Thompson at this point. Though he doesn’t yet have a win, he has back-to-back second place finishes, and also has a pair of third-place efforts this year as well. The 18-year-old Brazilian has made a big jump from last year, and a win may be beckoning for him this weekend.
Harrison Scott and David Malukas look to rebound after they crashed in the Freedom 90. It leaves them 68 points (Scott) and 78 points (Malukas) out of the lead. It will be tough for them to get back into title contention, but race wins and/or podiums at Road America would certainly be a big help regardless.
The aforementioned VeeKay looks to get back on championship form at Road America, which he swept last year, while teammate Megennis looks for back-to-back podiums after finishing third in the Freedom 90.
Kyle Kirkwood is starting to run away with the USF2000 championship, with a staggering 59-point lead over second place Alex Baron. The 19-year-old from Florida has things far from wrapped up, but he certainly has a stranglehold of the championship at the moment, and if he can keep things clean, it will become harder and harder for drivers to make up ground.
Interestingly, title rival Baron is perhaps the faster driver of the two, but Baron’s season is plagued by a 22nd-place effort in Race 1 on the streets of St. Petersburg, and a 21st at the Freedom 90. He’ll need a string of race wins to get back into contention, and Road America would be a good place to start.
Jose Sierra sits third, only five points behind Baron, and looks to add to his two podiums this year (second in St. Pete Race 1, and third in Race 1 on the IMS Road Course). And, if both Kirkwood and Baron falter, he could be primed to steal a win.
Igor Fraga sits fourth and looks to continue a consistent effort from the opening five races, with fifth place drivers Lucas Kohl and Rasmus Lindh (tied on 74 points apiece) looking to do the same.
Kaylen Frederick got his first podium of the year in the Freedom 75, finishing second to Kirkwood. It is only his second finish inside the Top 10 this year (ninth in St. Pete Race 2 is the other), and he’ll look to build off that effort moving forward.
Pro Mazda has practice and Race 1 qualifying on Thursday, with Race 1 on Friday and Race 2 on Saturday. Indy Lights and USF2000 practice on Friday, with their races on Saturday (Race 1 for both) and Sunday (Race 2 for both). A full weekend schedule can be viewed here.