We have reached the halfway point of the 2013 IndyCar season. If the second half is anything like the first, we are in for a real treat. There are officially 19 rounds on the schedule, but there are 16 weekend events, if you pair up the three double-headers at Detroit, Toronto, and Houston. We have eight weekends of racing left, but lets go over what we have already seen so far this season.
We knew before the opening race in St. Petersburg that this season was going to be somewhat unpredictable, because of the depth of talent in the series. I don’t think any of us imagined it would have been this wild though. Your race winners to this point of the season are James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato, Tony Kanaan, Mike Conway, Simon Pagenaud, and Helio Castroneves. That’s right, 0 wins for Chip Ganassi, and only one for Roger Penske. While it’s been the story of the year so far, it’s great for the sport to have teams like AJ Foyt, KV Racing, Dale Coyne, and Sam Schmidt in victory lane.
It’s amazing that we haven’t seen Will Power in victory lane since Sao Paulo last season, but lady luck hasn’t treated him very well this year. He got his first podium finish of the year last weekend at Milwaukee. Seeing Hinchcliffe, Sato, and Pagenaud win third first career race was great, but it doesn’t get any sweeter than Kanaan winning at Indianapolis. It was a feel-good story all around, with Ed Carpenter winning the pole, and Tony finally getting the monkey off his back. We’ve never seen that kind of overwhelming celebration by the fans at IMS.
Looking at the championship standings, you’ve got an icon of the sport leading, seeking hist first ever series title. You’ve also got two Americans right behind him, and Sato, Dixon, and Kanaan in the hunt as well. There is another guy up there that has quietly been having a great year. His name is Justin Wilson, and he has two podium finishes (Long Beach & Detroit) as well as a top-five finish at Indianapolis. He has three other top-ten finishes and is currently in 8th spot in the standings. Franchitti and Power? They’re in 10th and 11th, respectively.
Through the first part of the season, I would have to say the biggest surprise for me was Conway’s dominance in Detroit. We all knew he was good on street/road courses, but what he did was truly incredible in so many ways. This is a part-time driver with a team he had never worked with before. He not only won the first race, but started on pole for the second race, led 31 of the first 45 laps, and finished on the podium. He also had the fastest lap in both races, and led the most laps in both races.
It’s hard to say who is having the worst season to this point, as there are quite a few candidates to choose from. Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Saavedra have combined for one top-ten finish so far this year, and that was a 10th place finish at Detroit. Since the race in Sao Paulo, Alex Tagliani hasn’t finished better than 21st in any event. Graham Rahal has been struggling every weekend, and Power hasn’t performed at all like the guy we are used to seeing. Still, these guys still have enough time to turn their season around, but they’ve got quite an uphill battle to climb the rest of the way.
We’ve had great racing at every track so far this season, and there is so much more to look forward to. Up next is the race at Iowa, and then the race so many people are looking forward to; the return of IndyCar to Pocono on July 7th. This is the second leg of the Triple Crown – with Kanaan winning the first leg at Indy. After that we have the double-header at Toronto, where we will get our first taste of standing starts. Then we have races at Mid-Ohio, Sonoma, Baltimore, and the last double-header at Houston before the final race of the season. It all wraps up on October 19 at Auto Club Speedway. We will crown a champion, and possibly have a driver win the Triple Crown.
As crazy as the first half has been, no one can possibly predict what is going to happen from now until the end of the season. The championship is wide open, and there seems to be a new major storyline after each race. That type of momentum is what IndyCar is trying to build on. We’ve already seen some amazing moments this year, but there is still so much more to see. Make sure you tune in.