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Unpredictability, first-time winners make IndyCar’s 2013 one of the best in years

Aug 5, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

Honda Indy 200 At Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

Here’s how unpredictable this 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season has been:

You have had four first-time winners – James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud and Charlie Kimball – emerge from the pack and take the next step in their respective careers.

You had a guy in Mike Conway who was basically left for the IndyCar scrap heap after deciding, and bravely I might add, he didn’t want to race ovals anymore. Then he came into the most heavily derided car on the grid (Dale Coyne’s second car) without so much as a test day and kicked ass in Detroit.

And you have the championship rivals of 2010 and 2011 – the champion, Dario Franchitti and the challenger, Will Power – having gone winless thus far in 2013.

What do you make of the nature of this topsy-turvy season where predictions are about as reliable as a weatherman’s in the Midwest?

Is this level of parity, and unpredictability, good for IndyCar or is it a sign where the current car allows drivers who might not be considered top-shelf, top-caliber pilots to punch above their weight?

Those questions I’ll leave for the comments section. But speaking objectively, having followed this series since I grew up following IndyCar in the 1990s and having covered it since 2006, I have to rank this season top three in the last 20 years. And we haven’t even got to the climax of the final few race weekends yet.

The nature of this field – compared to Formula One’s for example – is that you have a legitimate 15 or so contenders on any given weekend, depending on the track. Nine different drivers from seven teams have won in the 14 races. Seventeen different drivers from nine teams have scored at least one podium finish. The ones who haven’t yet have threatened the establishment at at least one race this year.

And for once, to this point at least, you don’t have the political morass or B.S. of off-track attempting to weave its way in and interrupt the on-track product. Way too often, it seems the permeating stench of politics and agendas seeps into the paddock, leaving media, competitors and fans disgruntled.

When the worst things off-track are questions over aero kits and changing the engine formula to just twin-turbos, rather than the usual leadership tumult at the top, it’s not a bad year. There remain challenges going forward, as always, but the on-track product has quieted the angst for most of the year.

I tweeted after the Indianapolis 500 that when Tony Kanaan won, on a day he was reunited with three of his best friends, Franchitti, Max Papis and the incomparable Alex Zanardi in Victory Lane, that it felt like 1998 all over again.

These are the new glory days in IndyCar. Enjoy the ride.

  1. burm61 - Aug 5, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    It has been fantastic for IndyCar this year. In the past years I primarily watched NASCAR but knowing that just about anyone can win any race and the quality of racing have way outdone NASCAR and the “Jimmie is on the pole and won’t lose unless something happens to him” status they’ve been on this year. I do hope that when NBC takes over NASCAR broadcasting that they will pair up the duel races with a night Cup race for a ridiculous triple header for any major race fan.

  2. midtec2005 - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    The racing this year has been pretty incredible. I’m enjoying every second of it. Last year and this year have actually turned me into a road racing fan because of how good the races have been.

    On the topic of “are the cars to easy to drive?” I don’t think their super easy… but one way to make sure they aren’t is by increasing the power! Hopefully we see that in the near future, easier said than done though…

  3. bmcgrath2 - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:58 PM

    Its always cool to see multiple winners. I am not an IndyCar buff, but I have caught as many races I could so far this year, and its been fun to watch. After paying closer attention this year, I have really become a bigger fan of this series.

  4. snoopyo - Aug 6, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    I like having many different winners I hope we can see one or two more drivers get there first career wins. Its been a great season with awesome racing different winners. I have to say my favorite moment all year was watching TK finally win at INDY.

    • bmcgrath2 - Aug 6, 2013 at 10:15 PM

      Hearing the crowd go nuts when TK took the lead at Indy was simply awesome.

      Your going to love this Snoopy, as I do have to admit, I was watching the 500, really pulling for TK, saw the last Yellow come out and was like “Oh no, a green white checkered finish!” Then once I saw Jimmy Vasser celebrating, it dawned on me that it was over. It brought me back to what NASCAR was like pre-GWC finish.

      • snoopyo - Aug 11, 2013 at 2:20 AM

        bmc I hope INDYCAR never goes with the green white checkered I believe in respecting the distance of the race and I think it would be too dangerous.I want to see the race finish under green but it goes yellow then thats it and racing had always been that way till the green white checkered was put in a few years ago. I have no problem with TK winning under yellow and it doesn’t bother me that Dale Sr. won his Daytona under yellow.

  5. snoopyo - Aug 6, 2013 at 1:23 AM

    Tony great point about the off the track B.S. because it was the main story last year and overshadowed RHR great season, I just hope TG and some of the owners mostly John Barnes don’t pull any dumb stunts and try to destroy the sport once in for all. Getting rid of Randy was a dumb move and drove away some fans but if the people outside of the race cars would behave we could actually grow this thing. I don’t trust the people at 16th and Georgetown. Hopefully for the fans and drivers sake we can just focus on the racing instead of off the track politics and greed.

  6. Keith Collantine - Aug 6, 2013 at 3:30 AM

    There’s a lot to like about IndyCar at the moment: it has some excellent tracks, lots of top drivers and really good racing. I’m not a huge fan of the design of the cars (front looks great, rear looks terrible) but they do produce good action. What I especially appreciate about IndyCar at the moment is it’s DRS-free, and long may that continue.

  7. Jeff - Aug 6, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    This IndyCar season has been great.
    The parity and unpredictability have been a bonus too, aside from Conway’s win and recent Ganassi domination.

    • purplesectornet - Aug 11, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      Stupid article. Comparing to F1 makes no sense…it’s has a totally different competition philosophy…

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