What we’re thankful for in the motorsports world, 2013

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First off, a Happy Thanksgiving from us to you here at MotorSportsTalk. We’re thankful, most of all, for your watching of Formula One and IndyCar on NBC, CNBC and NBCSN on TV, and your readership and support of MST throughout our first season.

As to the rest of what we’re thankful for? See below.

Formula One

  • We’re thankful Sebastian Vettel decided to add donuts to his post-winning repertoire starting at India, which at least gave us a bit of intrigue to see if he could nail the donuts as well as the race before it.
  • We’re thankful Mark Webber was able to leave F1 on his own terms, still at the top of his game, before heading to the FIA World Endurance Championship with Porsche.
  • We’re thankful that Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will be teammates at Ferrari in 2014. We’re also thankful that Kimi continues to not really give a you-know-what, with his attitude a refreshing tonic compared to the corporate speak you hear from the rest of the grid.
  • We’re thankful Romain Grosjean took a massive leap from the “first lap nutcase” in 2012 to a race winner-in-waiting with an excellent second half of the 2013 season. We’re also thankful others like Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Jules Bianchi had their moments where they outperformed the machinery at their disposal.
  • Most of all, we’re thankful for new regulations coming in 2014. That will hopefully throw a monkey wrench at the form book where the last four years, it’s been Vettel and Red Bull’s world, and the rest of us are just living in it.

IndyCar

  • We’re thankful Scott Dixon continues to show what an amazing talent he is with a comeback for the ages to win his third series championship.
  • We’re thankful for 10 different race winners and 20 different podium finishers in the 19-race season, creating an unpredictable situation almost every race weekend. We’re also thankful the doubleheader weekends were a huge success, and we thank past IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard for introducing them to the 2013 schedule.
  • We’re thankful Juan Pablo Montoya is bringing some needed star power back to IndyCar in 2014 with his surprise return to Team Penske. That’s the early story to watch in 2014.
  • We’re thankful the Dallara DW12’s structural integrity held up well enough to prevent further, more serious injuries to Dario Franchitti and Justin Wilson in the last two races. Wilson is on the mend and can resume training.
  • Lastly, we’re thankful we got to witness Dario Franchitti’s incredible career. Sadly it all feels like an incomplete ending, but the achievements accomplished left an indelible impact on us all. Thanks, Dario, and get well soon.

NASCAR

  • We’re thankful for a great Chase battle between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, Johnson ultimately prevailing for his “six-pack” of titles.
  • We’re thankful for Kevin Harvick continuing to fight even when he knew this was his last season with Richard Childress Racing, and we’re thankful he, wife DeLana and their family emerged unscathed after a house fire earlier this week.
  • We’re thankful for Tony Stewart’s candor after his injuries sustained in a sprint car accident.
  • We’re thankful Jeff Gordon made the Chase, albeit under controversial circumstances, and that Clint Bowyer, whose Richmond spin in September triggered the firestorm of controversy, didn’t factor into title contention to save NASCAR an even further PR nightmare.
  • Lastly, we’re thankful the level of attention fixated on Danica Patrick went down in the second half of the season as her results weren’t worthy of the hyper coverage that always seems to follow her. We don’t talk about the rest of the 25th-to-30th place drivers on any regular basis, and Patrick should be no exception to that rule.

ELSEWHERE

  • We’re thankful for sports car content still occurring on IndyCar race weekends, in the form of the Pirelli World Challenge championship. More bang for the buck for fans.
  • We’re thankful that even though it’s going to be a rocky first year, the ALMS and GRAND-AM are coming together in the merged TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for 2014. Ideally, this makes fans a little less confused. Maybe…
  • We’re thankful that John Force continues to take no prisoners and leave it all on the line in NHRA, as he won his record 16th Funny Car title this year.
  • Lastly, we’re thankful for this simply awesome four-wide finish at the Firestone Indy Lights Series‘ Freedom 100 at Indianapolis, won by Peter Dempsey over Gabby Chaves, Sage Karam and Carlos Munoz. The finish of the year, without question.