Skip to content

IndyCar: Hawksworth on the doorstep of breakthrough with BHA

Jul 29, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

HawkMidO Getty Images

As we head to the final month of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season, there’s a handful of drivers who seek to turn in that last jaw-dropping performance that will be remembered heading into the offseason.

One such driver is Englishman Jack Hawksworth, who put in a star turn in a cameo TUDOR United SportsCar Championship role this past weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Filling in for Alex Tagliani in the No. 08 RSR Racing Oreca FLM09 Prototype Challenge car, Hawksworth ran down and passed the team’s sister car, driven by Bruno Junqueira, for a win in his sports car debut.

But he’ll be back to his day job this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, as driver of the No. 98 Castrol Edge BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian Honda. Entering the weekend, Hawksworth sits a perhaps unrepresentative 17th in points – 30 out of 13th.

It’s been an up-and-down rookie season for the 23-year-old from Bradford, who was a last-minute nomination to the Bryan Herta/Steve Newey-led entry – ironically, where he also replaced Tagliani for the full-season effort.

Hawksworth made a dynamic first impression with three Firestone Fast Six appearances in his first four tries, and a total of four top-10 grid efforts in the first six races.

Yet in the last eight, Hawksworth hasn’t bettered 15th on the grid, and he’s also had to bounce back following his Pocono practice accident where he incurred a myocardial contusion and missed that race.

His results didn’t match the pace in the first six races – a seventh at the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis came after leading a race-high 31 laps, and it was one of only two top-15 finishes.

As the qualifying has dropped off, his race results have improved – Hawksworth hasn’t finished worse than 15th since in the last eight, while posting three top-six results and his first podium with third in Race 2 at Houston.

“I think I’ve just been understanding the races more,” Hawksworth told MotorSportsTalk ahead of the Toronto weekend. “I wouldn’t say there’s been one thing where I improved this or that since the start of the year. At this point, it’s more knowing the races, the sport, the strategy a little better.”

That’s in part why his Houston podium was validation both in his own confidence, and the decision Herta and Newey made to enlist their single car to a rookie.

“We’d been quick on a number of occasions, and we should have got it done earlier and didn’t through whatever reason,” Hawksworth explained. “We struggled on pace in Houston, and while race one was good, race two we weren’t that quick. We had some great strategy to get in the mix, then we found the pace to get it done.

“It wasn’t a weight off my shoulder per se, but it was a relief in some sense to get a result.”

The result was particularly impressive as Hawksworth had held off Juan Pablo Montoya and an eager Charlie Kimball for the position.

Hawksworth has punched above his weight as a rookie on a single-car team – which in some respects, mirrors what team owner Herta did some 20 years ago, when he drove a partial schedule for A.J. Foyt before getting injured in Toronto.

“He’s been so good to work with, and yeah, Bryan’s been through a similar thing as he came up through the ranks,” Hawksworth explained. “I think we work well together. It means a lot to come in knowing the quality of the personnel is so high, from the engineering through the rest of the crew. It helps the learning process.”

Had Hawksworth not advanced into IndyCar after a difficult Indy Lights season, where he won three street course races but struggled on ovals and only finished fourth in points, he may have given up the dream to race altogether.

“It really was that close,” he admitted. “It didn’t look like there was that much out there. I’d honestly thought I was done.”

And this is where Hawksworth exhibits a confidence that borders on bravado, but speaks to an inner will to win rather than a simple “happy to be here” attitude.

“But I came in here and even though it was late, yeah, I expected to be quick; I always have been in whatever I’ve done,” he said. “Without being arrogant, I would have been disappointed if I hadn’t been fast. I want to be quickest every time out in any formula. Sometimes you’re disappointed or want more.

“I’m racing to win; I have no interest in being here if I don’t have a chance. If it wasn’t right, I wasn’t gonna do it.”

He has the chops and he’s had the determination to want to succeed. Given the level of parity in IndyCar this season, and fresh off the momentum of a win at Indianapolis this past weekend, it would not be a major surprise to see Hawksworth bag his first IndyCar win before the year’s out.

Latest Posts
  1. Mark Miles: “We are not going to have a five-month season” in 2016

    Jul 1, 2015, 5:53 PM EDT

    Mark Miles Mark Miles

    The CEO of IndyCar discussed the challenges of putting together an extended series schedule.

  2. Here are your British Grand Prix air times on CNBC, NBCSN, Live Extra

    Jul 1, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    BritishGPtv Getty Images

    TV times across the board for this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

  3. Miles: After “two-sided pancake” Fontana race, IndyCar may crack down against stakeholder comments

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:59 PM EDT

    will power fontana 2015 getty Getty Images

    Could penalties be coming to drivers who speak out about IndyCar’s on-track product? Mark Miles flips some pancakes on the possibility.

  4. IndyCar issues penalties and fines following MAVTV 500 at Fontana

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:03 PM EDT

    California Speedway Getty Images

    Will Power fined, put on probation after shoving safety official during Saturday’s race.

  5. NHRA shakeup: Tom Compton retires as president, Peter Clifford named successor

    Jul 1, 2015, 2:42 PM EDT

    tom compton retires from nhra -- getty Getty Images

    In a surprise move, the NHRA announced Wednesday that president Tom Compton has retired after 15 years as the sanctioning body’s chief executive officer

  6. Pikes Peak International Hill Climb results under review

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT

    RHYS MILLEN RHYS MILLEN

    The provisional winner of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is Rhys Millen.

  7. Ed Carpenter: driver criticism of IndyCar ‘confusing for fans’

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    The CFH Racing co-owner says IndyCar will never grow if “we’re tearing it apart from the inside out.”

  8. Hawksworth: “I wouldn’t say it was crazy; it was exciting”

    Jul 1, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT

    HawkTMS Getty Images

    One of A.J. Foyt’s young drivers makes some wiser points beyond his years about Saturday’s race in Fontana.

  9. Royal Purple, Manpower to Horsepower program to be featured in Red Bull GRC this week

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:01 PM EDT

    Photo: Manpower to Horsepower Photo: Manpower to Horsepower

    Feature on Manpower to Horsepower to air during Red Bull GRC show this Sunday on NBC.

  10. F1 and classic machinery at Goodwood, 2015, in photos

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT

    McLaren Formula One driver and 2009 World champion Jenson Button prepares to drive the ex Ayrton Senna McLaren MP4. Photo; Getty Images Getty Images

    A selection of images from the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

  11. Red Bull GRC: SH Rallycross premieres patriotic HAUS livery for MCAS

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Photo: SH Rallycross Photo: SH Rallycross

    SH Rallycross’ HAUS livery for Red Bull GRC this weekend screams red, white and blue.

  12. Graham Rahal’s Fontana win was long overdue, and a long time coming

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT

    RahalWinGroup Getty Images

    Given how well they’ve run this year, it was really only a matter of time until Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing won a race.

  13. Report: Filippi, Brabham set for IndyCar oval tests

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Josef Newgarden, Luca Filippi AP

    Luca Filippi and Matthew Brabham set for oval tests this Wednesday at Iowa Speedway.

  14. Young drivers star in mixed, primarily wet conditions at Watkins Glen

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    BurkettWG Getty Images

    This weekend’s miserable conditions at Watkins Glen offered a lot of young drivers a chance to shine.

  15. Report: Roger Penske intends to keep his ‘four aces’ in IndyCar

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:29 PM EDT

    roger penske 2015 getty Getty Images

    The 2015 season is the first time Roger Penske has captained four teams on the IndyCar circuit. And it appears it will be full steam ahead with four teams going forward.

  16. Mario Andretti gets Jay Leno up to speed — and then some

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:53 PM EDT

    jay leno mario andretti getty 2015 Getty Images

    Comedian and former late-night talk show host Jay Leno has spent his career making millions laugh. But recently, the joke was on Leno, so to speak – but in a good way.

  17. Racing legend Parnelli Jones featured in upcoming Indy 500 film

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:24 PM EDT

    parnelli jones Getty Images

    If you’re a big fan of the Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, put this on your bucket list for next year.

  18. NHRA: Antron Brown looks to make Top Fuel fireworks this weekend

    Jun 29, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

    Antron Brown Getty Images

    With five races coming up in the next six weeks, Top Fuel driver Antron Brown knows how crucial this stretch of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season will be.