2013 Indycar Season Preview

Izodindycar

2013 Indycar Series Season Preview

If you were asked pre-2012 who’ll be the first Izod Indycar Champion in the DW12, you’d have probably guessed one of Will Power, Dario Franchitti or Scott Dixon.  However, it was Ryan Hunter-Reay in the Andretti Autosport car that prevailed against all odds.  For the third year in a row, his form on ovals let Will Power down, and he ended up runner-up.  Dario Franchitti endured a relatively torrid year to what he’s used to, and only had an Indy 500 victory to show for his efforts.

So what for 2013?  More of the same, or will we see more teams learning the characteristics of the DW12 and challenging at the front?

Lets start with the championship winning Andretti AutosportRyan Hunter-Reay takes the Number 1, something that hasn’t been seen in a fair while in the series.  He’ll have the confidence of his championship to take into the new season, and should be up front again.  Marco Andretti remains in his fathers team but swaps his number 26 for the number 25, to see if it gives him more luck.  James Hinchcliffe also remains in the Go Daddy number 27, whilst EJ Viso moves from KV to make it a four car line-up, taking the number 5.  All three teammates to Hunter-Reay should at times be up front, and the hope is for the likeable Hinchcliffe to finally break his duck and win his first Indycar race.

Whilst Andretti have gone from three cars to four, Team Penske have downsized from three to two cars, at least for the majority of the season.  Gone is Ryan Briscoe, pole sitter for the 2012 Indy 500, but remaining in the team are Will Power (number 12) and Helio Castroneves (number 3). Roger Penske & his team will be hoping that Power can finally get the Championship his driving over the past few years has certainly earned, and Castroneves should be strong everywhere, and will be gunning for his fourth Indy 500 win.  At present, Penske’s number 2 car will only be seen at Barber & Indianapolis in the hands of AJ Allmendinger, a championship contender in Champ Car back in the day and a Nascar regular in the past couple of years.

Another team to downsize their team is Chip Ganassi Racing, going from four cars to three.  Remaining in the squad are Target drivers Scott Dixon (number 9) & Dario Franchitti (number 10), whilst Charlie Kimball remains the the 83.  You’d imagine both Dario & Scott will be challenging up front most of the time, whether it be on an oval, road or street course, while Kimball will hope to build on 2012 where he earned his first podium finish.  Expect the fourth car to return for the Indy 500.

AJ Foyt Enterprises remains a one-car outfit, replacing Mike Conway with Japanese driver Takuma Sato.  Its been a few years since this team were in victory circle, and its the hope that Sato can build on his performances in 2012 and be more consistent & reliable.  Podiums and indeed wins could indeed follow if he puts everything together.  Expect the number 41, and possibly the number 48, to be seen for the Indy 500.

Alex Tagliani, former pole sitter for the Indy 500, returns for a second season with Barracuda Racing, Bryan Herta’s outfit.  After the dreadful start to the 2012 season when the team was stuck with the awful Lotus engines, a change to Honda engines saw a dramatic improvement.  The team will hope to be challenging for top fives & top tens through the season.  There is a chance they’ll be a second car for Indy, but they’ll probably remain a one-car effort the rest of the time.

KV Racing Technology are another team to downsize their operation, reducing their effort from three cars to two.  Tony Kanaan remains in the team in the number 11, but last years teammates have both gone, EJ Viso to Andretti and Rubens Barrichello to Brazilian Stock Cars.  Kanaan is joined in the team by HVM refugee Simona de Silvestro, a move that sees the popular Swiss lady have a competitive car after suffering as the lone Lotus engined driver for the whole of 2012.  We should see a return to the form we know Simona can produce for 2013.   Its not inconcievable that this team can win races in 2013 with both drivers.  A third car at Indy is also a possibility.

Sam Schmidt Motorsport has upsized from one car to two for the 2013 season, keeping Simon Pagenaud (number 77), a star of 2012, and adding Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier (number 55).  Pagenaud raced regularly at the front in 2012 and will hope to get that first series win under his belt this time out.  Vautier will hope to be challenging as Pagenaud did in 2012, and as the only full-time rookie, he’s odds on for rookie of the year.  A third car, possibly for Townsend Bell, at Indy is highly likely.

Another team to upsize from a single car entry to two is Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.  They’ve hired Graham Rahal (number 15) to lead the team, whilst James Jakes (number 16) joins from Coyne.  Rahal’s aims after a disappointing couple of years at Ganassi where so much more was expected of him is surely to get his career back on track and challenge at the front for podiums and maybe the odd win.  Jakes will be aiming for top ten finishes.  Mike Conway joins the team for the Long Beach race in a third car (number 17), a car which will more than likely be seen again at Indy in the hands of a different driver, Conway having come out and said he won’t race on an oval again.

Panther Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing joined forces in 2012 and remain so in 2013, both keeping their same drivers this year in JR Hildebrand (number 4) and Oriol Servia (number 22).  After his 2011 disappointment at Indy, JR will hope to break his duck in the series, while Servia will hope to remain as solid and consistent as he’s been throughout his Indycar career.  Panther may bring in a second solo car for Indy.

2012 Texas winner Justin Wilson (number 19) remains in the Dale Coyne team for 2013, though at present his teammate is unknown.  For St Petersburg it’ll be Ana Beatriz (number 18), but beyond there who knows.  Its rumoured the car will be shared between Ana & Justin’s younger brother, Stefan Wilson.  Justin, traditionally strong on the road & street courses, will hope for another strong year and perhaps challenge for the road course championship.

Dragon Racing return as a two car outfit for 2013, keeping Sebastien Bourdais, but replacing Katherine Legge with Sebastian Saavedra in controversial circumstances after the British lady believed had a solid contract.  The legal proceedings are still going on there.  Bourdais should be strong this year, whilst Saavedra will need to prove dropping down to Indy Lights for a year has improved his driving ability.

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing has retained the services of the very likeable Josef Newgarden (number 67) for another season.  He’d be hoping to build on his performances in 2012 where he was fast but at times unreliable.  He should be aiming for top ten finishes and maybe the odd top five.  A second car at Indy is a possibility for the second season running.

The last full time team is Ed Carpenter Racing, with team boss Ed Carpenter once again in control of the lone-entry.  He’ll be hoping to be competing for more oval wins whilst building on his ever improving road/street track form.  Again, another car is possible for the Indy 500.

Despite all the rumours, Michael Shank Racing, Newman/Haas Racing, Scuderia Coloni, Conquest Racing and HVM Racing will not be racing full time in 2013.  Fan Force United could return for the Indy 500, while Shank, Conquest & HVM could align themselves with other teams for the same event.

2013 Indycar Series Schedule

Round 1: St Petersburg – 24 March; Round 2: Barber Motorsports Park – 07 April; Round 3: Long Beach – 21 April; Round 4: Sao Paulo – 05 May; Round 5: Indianapolis 500 – 26 May; Round 6+7: Detroit – 01/02 June; Round 8: Texas Motor Speedway – 08 June; Round 9: Milwaukee Mile – 15 June; Round 10: Iowa Speedway – 23 June; Round 11: Pocono Raceway – 07 July; Round 12+13: Toronto – 13/14 July; Round 14: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – 04 August; Round 15: Sonoma Raceway – 25 August; Round 16: Baltimore – 01 September; Round 17+18: Houston – 05/06 October; Round 19: Auto Club Speedway – 19 October.

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