Skip to content

MotorSportsTalk’s IndyCar 2013 midseason review, Part 1

Jun 26, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

Sao Paulo Indy 300 - Day 3 Getty Images

Nine of 16 racing weekends, and 10 of 19 races are in the books in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. It’s a season thus far defined by parity, relative struggles by the long regarded top two teams in the series (Team Penske, Target Chip Ganassi Racing), and the emergence of several new stars.

In the first of our two-part midseason review (the second part, each of our top five stories this year, will be posted on Thursday), my MotorSportsTalk colleague Chris Estrada and I examine the bests and worsts of the first half of the season purely from an on-track standpoint. At this point, much of the off-track hand-wringing that always seems to pop up in some way, shape or form, has been relatively minor and in the background.

Without further adieu, our take thus far:

BEST DRIVER

TONY DIZINNO: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport. The champion has come out firing to dismiss suggestions his 2012 title was a “fluke,” with two wins, two poles, a 4.6 qualifying average through 10 races and just 9 points off Helio Castroneves.

CHRIS ESTRADA: Helio Castroneves, Team Penske. With just one finish outside the Top-10 this season (and a victory at Texas Motor Speedway), the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner is showing the consistency he’ll need to finally bring home that elusive series championship.

MOST DISAPPOINTING FIRST-HALF DRIVER

TDZ: Alex Tagliani, Barracuda Racing. I like Tag and I like the team. But via some mix of bad luck, bad timing, struggling to acclimate to the 2013 Firestone tires, either the pace or the results haven’t yet synced up on a weekend for the veteran Canadian this year. Through 10 races, I’m sure they expected a lot more than one top-10 finish and two top-10 starts.

CE: Alex Tagliani, Barracuda Racing. Graham Rahal was in this spot until his Top-5 run at Iowa last weekend. As a result, I have to go with Tagliani and Barracuda, who’ve led just one lap all year and have finished outside the Top 20 in the last six races (four of which ended in DNFs). If it wasn’t for bad luck, they’d have no luck at all.

MOST IMPROVED FIRST-HALF DRIVER

TDZ: James Jakes, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. E.J. Viso a close second here, but Viso’s had potential for years. Meanwhile Jakes has undoubtedly risen the most year-on-year, has taken nicely to RLL’s team and setup and starred on multiple occasions.

CE: E.J. Viso, Andretti Autosport. Some of us were thinking the well-sponsored Venezuelan was simply going to be the “money man” for the Andretti foursome. But Viso has taken advantage of his team’s plentiful resources and is putting together the most competitive season of his IndyCar career so far.

BEST FIRST-HALF RACE

TDZ: Brazil. With the level of passing and drama on the streets of Sao Paulo, ending with a last-lap, last-turn pass, it’s hard to say any race beat it – even Indianapolis despite its record 68 lead changes.

CE: Brazil. It was, quite simply, the best street race in IZOD IndyCar Series history and one of the best it’s had overall. James Hinchcliffe’s race-winning pass on the final corner gives this race the award over perhaps the most competitive Indianapolis 500 ever.

WORST HALF-RACE

TDZ: Texas. Thing is, it wasn’t that bad – it just was a combination of a package that had been slightly overdone and a presentation that left a little to be desired.

CE: Detroit, Race 2. The second doubleheader race around Belle Isle Park ended well enough with Simon Pagenaud getting his first victory, but getting there was brutal – with the low point being a 10-car pileup coming off a restart. For the series, it wasn’t the best way to follow up a thrilling Indy 500.

BEST OFF-TRACK STORY 

TDZ: For me, it’s Alex Zanardi attending the Indianapolis 500 and being presented with the car that he made “The Pass” – his legendary move on Bryan Herta at the 1996 CART race at Laguna Seca.

CE: INDYCAR is finally implementing a long-range plan to bring back technical innovation and ramp up the speeds. Fans that have been clamoring for something besides a spec product are hoping it comes off.

WORST OFF-TRACK STORY

TDZ: Aero kits. To me, they’ve been nothing short of a boondoggle since they were first announced in 2010. Now, INDYCAR has announced they’ll finally be implemented in 2015… allegedly. I’ll believe them when I see them, and I’m not sure if they’ll generate much buzz beyond the hardcore fans that are already there.

CE: Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles is certainly working hard trying to boost INDYCAR’s profile, but his apparent preference to end the season around Labor Day is worrisome. Unless he’s also trying to gain warm-weather events that can push the start of the season back into February, we’re looking at six months of nothing again. Not acceptable.

Latest Posts
  1. Rain postpones Bristol Trucks race to Thursday morning

    Aug 20, 2014, 10:11 PM EDT

    bristol rain Getty Images

    Wednesday’s UNOH 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway has been postponed due to heavy rain and lightning. The race has been rescheduled to 10 am ET on Thursday morning, weather permitting.

  2. Start of Trucks race at Bristol under rain delay

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT

    Bristol motor speedway logo

    Heavy rain showers coupled with occasional lightning are delaying Wednesday’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

  3. NASCAR America video: Jimmie Johnson needs to turn things around

    Aug 20, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Camping World RV Sales 301 - Practice Getty Images

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, we looked at the struggles Jimmie Johnson and his team have had over much of the last six weeks.

  4. NASCAR America video: Jeff Burton to replace Tony Stewart at Bristol

    Aug 20, 2014, 7:24 PM EDT

    Burton Michigan 2 2014 AP

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, in the continuing absence of Tony Stewart this weekend at Bristol, it was announced that Jeff Burton will drive in his place for the second week in a row.

  5. Kyle Busch earns pole for tonight’s Trucks race at Bristol

    Aug 20, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT

    kyle busch truck ky Getty Images

    Kyle Busch (who else) earned the No. 1 qualifying position Wednesday afternoon for this evening’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

  6. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 6:30 p.m. ET — Stewart won’t race at Bristol, talk with Jeff Burton, JJ and Harvick

    Aug 20, 2014, 6:07 PM EDT

    140820-nascar-america

    We have a huge show for today’s edition of NASCAR America, including the latest on Tony Stewart not racing at Bristol, Jeff Burton back in the No. 14 to replace Stewart, Kevin Harvick’s GoKart race, Jimmie Johnson’s recent struggles. And those are just for starters. Make sure you tune in.

  7. It’s official: Tony Stewart to miss Bristol race, Jeff Burton to once again drive No. 14

    Aug 20, 2014, 5:27 PM EDT

    Jeff Burton AP

    Tony Stewart will miss this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the third consecutive race Stewart has skipped in the aftermath of the tragic racing incident with sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. nearly two weeks ago.

  8. When — or will — Tony Stewart ever race again?

    Aug 20, 2014, 4:17 PM EDT

    tony stewart watkins glen 2014 a Getty Images

    Amidst news that a grassroots campaign is building support for Tony Stewart, including plans to stand up and cheer during Lap 14 (Stewart’s race car number) of Saturday night’s race at Bristol, one question still remains: When will Stewart race again

  9. STP to once again grace legendary No. 43 RPM machine

    Aug 20, 2014, 2:53 PM EDT

    (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The famed STP logo will once again grace the legendary No. 43 of Richard Petty Motorsports in Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

  10. Kyle Busch seeks trifecta in Bristol tripleheader

    Aug 20, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT

    (AP Photo/Terry Renna) AP

    Kyle Busch will attempt to win all three NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend.

  11. IndyCar: Penske looks for fifth straight Sonoma win this weekend

    Aug 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Sonoma Pack - IndyCar AP

    Will Power and Team Penske have been dominant over the last several years at Sonoma, and if they are again, the IndyCar championship could be put out of reach.

  12. Conway looks to sign off his 2014 IndyCar campaign with third win in Sonoma

    Aug 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    ConwayLB2 AP

    If Mike Conway wins Sonoma this weekend, he’ll have his third win of 2014, and tie Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay with the most in the IndyCar field.

  13. Indy Lights: Ryan Phinny, Casamigos switch to Belardi for Sonoma

    Aug 20, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Gabby Chaves to get new teammate in form of Ryan Phinny for Sonoma, at Indy Lights weekend finale.

  14. NBA legend Dominique Wilkins made it to Milwaukee last weekend with Kimball’s crew

    Aug 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    KimballMKE Getty Images

    NBA legend Dominique Wilkins tours Charlie Kimball’s No. 83 team during the Milwaukee IndyCar weekend.

  15. Andre Lotterer confirmed for Caterham debut at Spa

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    LottererDebut Getty Images

    Le Mans champion Andre Lotterer confirmed for surprise Formula One debut with Caterham at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

  16. NASCAR: Toyota working to find more horsepower for engines

    Aug 19, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT

    Pure Michigan 400 Getty Images

    Last year, reliability was the problem for Toyota’s engines, not power. This year, the situation has been reversed, and Toyota Racing Development’s president says they’re hunting for more performance ahead of the Chase.

  17. NASCAR AMERICA: Crew chief Gustafson key to Jeff Gordon’s renaissance (VIDEO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 8:07 PM EDT

    Sprint All-Star Race - Practice Getty Images

    Alan Gustafson may not be as well-known as other crew chiefs, but it’s clear that he’s played a big role in Jeff Gordon’s success this season. The NASCAR AMERICA crew breaks down what’s made them such a good pair together.

  18. NASCAR AMERICA: New home, new sponsor for Edwards and Suarez (VIDEO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT

    Daniel Suarez AP

    NASCAR AMERICA talks about Carl Edwards and Daniel Suarez’s move to Joe Gibbs Racing – and the impact of their new sponsor, telecommunications equipment company ARRIS.

  19. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA follows JGR’s big day at 6:30 p.m. ET

    Aug 19, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    Daniel Suarez, Carl Edwards AP

    Coming up today: Reaction from 2015 JGR drivers Carl Edwards and Daniel Suarez, and current JGR Cup drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch; No. 24 crew chief Alan Gustafson on the team’s win at Michigan; the Michigan edition of “Scan All 43.”

  20. NASCAR: Truck Series preparing for Bristol on short week

    Aug 19, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    UNOH 200 Getty Images

    Four days after racing in Michigan, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series faces the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway in Wednesday night’s UNOH 200.

Video from NASCAR America

Why Edwards switched to Joe Gibbs racing
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1475)
  2. K. Harvick (1224)
  3. T. Stewart (1010)
  4. I. Vences (1005)
  5. K. Busch (994)