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. WATCH LIVE: Singapore GP Qualifying – an open fight under the lights?

    Sep 20, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Can Ferrari or Red Bull spoil Mercedes’ party in Singapore? Join us live on CNBC and Live Extra from 9am ET today.

  2. Red Bull GRC: LA course preview with Ken Block (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 8:15 AM EDT

    FIA World Rally Championship Mexico - Day Two Getty Images

    Track preview of LA course for Red Bull Global Rallycross.

  3. Tost convinced Verstappen is the right man for Toro Rosso

    Sep 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Belgium F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Dutch youngster is set to take part in practice for the Japanese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

  4. Three-car teams must be a last resort for Formula 1

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Previews Getty Images

    With the future of as many as four teams in the lurch, F1 could be forced to take drastic action in 2015. However, efforts must be made to resolve the current situation instead of finding a solution to a future problem.

  5. Fernando Alonso closes out practice in Singapore fastest

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:04 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice Getty Images

    Spaniard fastest ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Rosberg.

  6. WATCH LIVE: FP3 for the Singapore Grand Prix

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:45 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice Getty Images

    FP3 marks the final chance for the drivers and teams to get everything set for qualifying later today.

  7. Keselowski: Stewart/Ward case being sent to grand jury “feels like a little bit of a cop out”

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:13 PM EDT

    MyAfibStory.com 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Keselowski’s comments today at New Hampshire seem odd considering what he said just days after the Aug. 9 tragedy in upstate New York.

  8. NASCAR: RCR, Roush teams looking strong in NNS practice at Kentucky

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Kentucky Speedway - Day 1 Getty Images

    Chris Buescher (RFR), Cale Conley (RCR) shine for these teams.

  9. NASCAR: Matt Crafton, Cole Custer top Truck Practice 2 and 3 at Loudon

    Sep 19, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    UNOH 175 - Practice Getty Images

    Crafton hopes to build up his slim lead in the Camping World Truck Series championship with a strong outing in tomorrow’s UNOH 175.

  10. Kenzie Ruston on right track to follow Danica Patrick’s road to racing success

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Kenzie Ruston (Photo courtesy GoKenzie.com) Kenzie Ruston (Photo courtesy GoKenzie.com)

    Kenzie Ruston can relate so well to NASCAR star Danica Patrick. Just like when Patrick was working her way up through the racing ranks early on in her own career, Ruston has also had to outwork other male drivers for virtually everything she’s achieved up to now.

  11. Brad Keselowski wins pole for Sunday’s Chase race at New Hampshire

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:03 PM EDT

    NASCAR New Hampshire Auto Racing AP

    Keselowski sets a new track record at New Hampshire in earning his fifth Sprint Cup pole of 2014.

  12. Red Bull GRC: Checking in with Foust, Dyne leading into LA double (VIDEO)

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:37 PM EDT

    GRCLogo

    Pre-race videos with Austin Dyne and Tanner Foust before Red Bull GRC doubleheader in LA.

  13. Jeff Gordon: We can beat Keselowski this weekend

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Sylvania 300 - Practice Getty Images

    A win from Gordon on Sunday would give New Hampshire its record-setting 14th different winner in as many races.

  14. F1 Friday Analysis: Is Lewis the man to beat?

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice Getty Images

    We crunch the numbers to see who is really ahead at Mercedes in Singapore after Friday practice.

  15. A name you’ll be hearing a lot more of in NASCAR: racing phenom Ben Rhodes

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Ben Rhodes (Photo: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Kyle Busch. Joey Logano. Kyle Larson. You may soon add Ben Rhodes to the list of young phenom drivers that have gone on to stardom in the Sprint Cup Series.

  16. Jimmie Johnson still looking for return to commanding form

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Sylvania 300 - Practice Getty Images

    “…We’re looking for just that little sliver of speed to get back to a dominant position.” – Johnson

  17. Hamilton: Friday a “work in progress” for Mercedes

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice Getty Images

    Finishing P1 not enough for the Briton following his Friday running in Singapore.

  18. Kyle Larson: I’m “really close” to first Sprint Cup victory

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    MyAfibStory.com 400 - Practice Getty Images

    “I hope it’s before the end of this year, but if not, we won’t be too disappointed. We’ve been running well all season long.” – Larson

  19. Vettel upbeat despite engine troubles in Singapore

    Sep 19, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    German driver rallies to finish in the top five in both sessions despite an engine failure.

  20. Brad Keselowski tops Friday Sprint Cup practice at N.H.

    Sep 19, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Sylvania 300 - Practice Getty Images

    Already in the Contender Round for the Chase, Keselowski gets his weekend at New Hampshire off to a good start.

Video from NASCAR America

Which longshot will advance in Chase?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Keselowski (1811)
  2. J. Gordon (1429)
  3. K. Busch (1416)
  4. K. Harvick (1347)
  5. M. Crafton (1316)