So IndyCar is over for another season. And we don?t have a new champ, like I was expecting, but a three time champ in Dario Franchitti, who equals Sam Hornish, Jr. on IRL titles. The road to Homestead has been a long but exciting one, and there are many highlights worth discussing.
BEST RACE: Chicagoland
Ryan Briscoe, Marco Andretti, Dan Wheldon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Tony Kanaan all had a chance to win this incredibly close race. But a late race caution meant eventual winner Dario Franchitti would take no tyres in the pit-stop to hold off 2nd place man Wheldon by hundredths. Will Power may rue the decision to not take fuel, a factor which may have lost him the championship. Honourable mention goes to Sao Paulo, which was full of action, and of course, rain.
WORST RACE: Sonoma
Don?t get me wrong, I like Sonoma, and it?s usually a good race, but this years event was quite uneventful. But winner Will Power wont mind.
BEST DRIVER: Will Power
From becoming a part-time, to injuring his back, to being a contender for his first IndyCar title. Let?s face it, that?s pretty impressive. A deal materialised in November during his recovery period for him to run a third Penske car with Verizon, and though people thought that Briscoe and Helio would be key contenders, to everyone?s surprise it would be Power that would stretch his lead before losing it in the final race. A great career turnaround nonetheless and I hope to see him in the IRL season, or in an F1 drive (fingers hopelessly crossed).
MOST IMPROVED DRIVER: Ryan Hunter-Reay
Ryan keeps steadily improving throughout his American open-wheel career, earning his best championship finish this year (6th) and his fourth American open-wheel victory in Long Beach
MOST DISAPPOINTING DRIVER: Takuma Sato
Now you?d have thought that a man who has experience in F1, the highest echelon of motorsport, would take the Rookie of the Year easily, in Mansell-esque way, yes? Well it wasn?t to be, as Tak only managed one top-ten finish in 17 races, in a season marred by 9 DNFs and many mistakes and adaptability issues. He finished behind Graham Rahal, who didn?t enter five of those seventeen that Tak did. Such a shame. I wonder if he?ll stick around for another year?
BEST MOMENT: Helio rages!
I could only find it funny. The controversial finish at Edmonton, which saw Helio penalised for a ?blocking manoeuvre? (which I didn?t see at all) on his team-mate Power resulted in a usually cheerful Helio explode into a emotional tirade at anyone involved in the decision to black flag him. The team had to restrain him from attacking IZOD technical director Kevin Blanche. His emotion was understandable, but after watching it again, hilariously unnecessary.
WORST MOMENT: Conway crashes
A horrendous moment in the Indy 500 saw Conway drive up over Hunter-Reay and hit the fence at 200mph, causing the rear part of the car to disintegrate and prematurely end the race. Conway suffered compression fracture in his spine and broken leg. He missed the rest of the season, but it was great to see him in good spirits during his interview with Sky Sports, and I hope to see him back in the IRL next year.
A WORTHY CHAMPION?: I guess so!
I would?ve rather had Will Power as champion. But hey, consistency is key in any forms of motorsport, whilst Will Power was busy collecting his five wins, Dario was busy collecting strong finishes, and his 15 top-tens (10 of them podiums) help solidify his championship foundations.
LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR: Hell yeah!
With Baltimore, New Hampshire and Las Vegas (almost) added to next year, it certainly looks like a good mix of tracks for next year. And, of course, it?s silly season time, so who?s going where, who?s staying and who?s going?
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