MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with Jack Hawksworth. Hawksworth had a challenging second season in the sport.
Jack Hawksworth, No. 41 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda
- 2015: 17th Place, Best Finish 7th, Best Start 8th, 0 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 16 Laps Led, 17.2 Avg. Start, 15.9 Avg. Finish
- 2016: 20th Place, Best Finish 11th, Best Start 4th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 15.4 Avg. Start, 17.5 Avg. Finish
Stats will make the year seem pretty terrible for Hawksworth, and they were – no top-10s with a best finish of 11th, twice, a points total nearly 100 off his teammate and 430 off champion Simon Pagenaud, five DNFs, four top-10 starts, all of which ended lower on race day, and the lowest points total of every driver in full-season points.
Dig a bit deeper though and see the reasons for the struggles and you find, as Hawksworth sighed after Watkins Glen, that the basics were simply not maximized for his car.
This was a driver who frequently ended practice on Friday in the top five on road and street courses, occasionally as the top Honda. Consider Carlos Munoz hit him at Barber on the start, and Simon Pagenaud reportedly did so later in Toronto. He got caught up in Mikhail Aleshin’s accident in Texas. There was a mechanical that caused a DNS at Detroit race one. There was an engineer change after just two races. And the pit stops – or caution timing – never seemed to go his way.
At 25, and with only one career podium in three IndyCar seasons, the stats don’t match Hawksworth’s ability level. Remember this was a driver who swept the Pro Mazda field in 2012, beating future Indy Lights champions Gabby Chaves and Sage Karam and would-have-been IndyCar star Connor de Phillippi before his career shifted to sports cars, and overachieved more than most paired with engineer Todd Malloy at Bryan Herta Autosport as a rookie on a single-car team in 2014.
He has the chops, still, but I’m not sure he’s in the right situation in IndyCar. Similar to say a Mike Conway, his future aspirations might be better served in sports cars, where he could take that paddock by storm (and already has in selected Prototype Challenge starts in the past).