Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bring on 2014!

Well, that's it. The 2013 season has wrapped up. I'm not even sure where to go with this or what to talk about. There are a lot of topics out there begging for attention (silly season driver changes, manufacturer changes, the 2014 schedule, road racing at The Speedway, etc), but I think I'm going to settle on the immediate:
Scott Dixon is your 2013 Indycar series champion! And I'm happy for that! Scott and Ganassi Racing aren't always easy to cheer for. They are the overdog team and Dixon is the multiple-champion, frequent winner with the demeanor of a dull, boring accountant. He doesn't say much, he doesn't fly off the handle with excitement, he's just not that interesting... Signs like this are an indication to me that I need to take a closer look. Someone with this level of success is probably more interesting than their persona lets on. I read a column after the end of last season where the writer interviewed every Indycar series driver and asked who (besides themselves) was the best driver in the series. Yes, the most popular answer was "Scott Dixon." Here's a guy who is mostly ignored by the fan base, yet has widespread respect (if not adulation) from his peers. So I made it a point to watch him closer and cheer a little louder. What I saw this season was a driver who dug in and did what he had to in order to win the championship. His season started slow (if not as bad as his teammate's), and we all listened to the talk about Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato, and if it would finally be 'the year' for Marco Andretti or Helio Castroneves to get the respect they deserved. RHR and Sato never found consistency, and Andretti's consistency wasn't as good as Helio's. The Target team really hit their stride after an oft-discussed Sebring test and a new Honda engine spec was installed before the Pocono race. Dixon went on a tear, scoring wins when he absolutely had to and outscoring Helio as the season wound down. It was the fun, exciting way to watch a championship. Last night's race at Fontana was the icing on the cake. An exciting race with lots of lead changes, mistakes by strong-running drivers, extreme attrition, and unusual sights (shop vacs and garbage cans had strong roles in the broadcast). Best of all, the two championship contenders kept their cars alive and took the fight to the very, very end.
I went to bed last night feeling good for both Scott Dixon's championship and Will Power's victory. Then I saw a Tweet that said we're only 160 days away from starting it all over again in 2014! I can't wait.

Some observations from 2013 (More may follow in future posts, be warned!):
  • How many wins would James Hinchcliffe have had if his Andretti cars had better reliability? (3 times this year he didn't make it past the 3rd lap)
  • Most impressive drivers of the season: Simon Pagenaud, Justin Wilson, Josef Newgarden, Sebastien Bourdais. 
  • For their impressive reputation, Team Penske sure seems to make a lot of strategy-related mistakes and miscues. 
  • Really disappointed we didn't get a Will Power/Sebastien Bourdais battle to the finish at Fontana. 
  • Am really happy that Bourdais will stay in the series, and that it's not with the most volatile team in the paddock. 

There's more to say, of course, but I think I'll save it for the coming weeks. As usual, the shirt above is available. Hanukkah is early this year! Make sure you order soon enough!

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