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Jack Hawksworth’s impressive debut weekend ends with restart accident

Apr 1, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

English rookie Jack Hawksworth entered St. Petersburg this weekend a bit of a wild card in the No. 98 Charter/Castrol Edge Honda for Bryan Herta Autosport.

He had two prior wins in his last two trips here, one apiece in Star Mazda (2012) and Indy Lights (2013). But for his first weekend in a Verizon IndyCar on a street circuit, Hawksworth and the single-car BHA squad definitely punched above their weight.

Hawksworth was in the mid-teens to borderline top-10 in Friday’s two practice sessions. Come Saturday, he missed qualifying in the Firestone Fast Six by mere hundredths of a second.

From eighth, Hawksworth ran well and was part of one of the race’s most exciting moments.

The Englishman was involved in a three-wide battle down the front straight with Juan Pablo Montoya and Marco Andretti, with Hawksworth diving to the inside on corner entry in a bold move.

It reminded me a bit of when Josef Newgarden attempted, but was unable to complete, a move around the outside of Dario Franchitti for the lead at Turn 1 in Long Beach, 2012.

This was Hawksworth, a late add to the team instead of projected winter favorite Luca Filippi, announcing his arrival and saying “I’m not afraid to mix it up with you guys.”

Unfortunately for Hawksworth, his race would end in contact with Andretti after the accordion effect stack-up on a Lap 83 restart.

“It wasn’t the end to the race that we wanted, unfortunately,” said the Bradford, U.K. native. “It was really out of our control and took us out of the race. I just want to say that the guys did a great job. We had some really good pace on the reds and I think that’s promising, going forward. Now we just go to Long Beach and hopefully we get what we deserve but overall it was a positive day up until then.”

Considering Hawksworth has been with the team less than a month, this was an impressive weekend debut, and could portend bigger and better things for the future.

  1. testover6370 - Apr 1, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Hawksworth is fast, that is undeniable. His problem, highlighted all too clearly in his Indy Lights season, is that he struggles to adapt and drive safely and cleanly in race conditions. He lacks that experience needed to survive in a fast-paced, dynamic race environment where he’s going wheel-to-wheel with other very fast, aggressive drivers. Long Beach 2013 proved he does not have the necessary situational awareness in the car, and this last race showed his ability to react to the unexpected and to remain calm and collected is lacking as well. All other drivers were able to safely deal with the stackup, but he swerved, skidded, spun, hit 3 cars, and took one of them out of the race along with himself.

    He has the speed and he just needs the experience to channel that into good race-craft. Another season in Indy Lights would probably have done that. I think he rose to the top of the game too fast and it is going to continue to bite him. It may stunt a career that could have gone further with a little more development time.

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