A view of the podium at Long Beach this past weekend is all you need to know about the parity going on in IndyCar. Takuma Sato won his first IndyCar race with Graham Rahal grabbing second and Justin Wilson filling out the podium in third (source: L.A. Times).
Sato drives for A.J. Foyt, Rahal drives for his father Bobby, while Wilson works for Dale Coyne. All of these teams have longstanding owners but certainly none of them would be considered IndyCar powerhouses. In fact, A.J. Foyt Enterprises hadn’t had a winning car from their stables in over a decade. Although Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has had a couple part-time years of late, they’ve been racing full-time since last season, yet the team hasn’t seen a winner’s circle in five years. Dale Coyne Racing has just two victories in the team’s entire IndyCar history.
Different is the word of the day
When you take a look back at the top five teams at Long Beach, there are five different organizations. And the point standings have the same circumstances, with the top five drivers driving for five different teams.
The Long Beach race was a microcosm of the season with parity amongst some great drivers sitting back in the pack. For instance, Will Power who is a three-time IndyCar runner-up and use to dominating street courses, could not muster up a better finish than 16th. The man one spot in front of him was Sebastien Bourdais, who for awhile could not be beat at Long Beach during his ChampCar years. Former IndyCar champion Scott Dixon struggled to an 11th place while Helio Castroneves barely earned a Top 10 with a 10th place.
In with the new
Along with Sato, some of the newer faces in the sport who were in the Top 10 included J.R. Hildebrand, Simon Pagenaud and Simona de Silvestro. Then combine that with greats like Power, Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti who are nowhere near the points leaders, you know IndyCar has developed into a very competitive series.
Except for current IndyCar points leader Helio Castroneves, no driver has more than one podium so far this season. As far as owners are concerned, the top eight drivers in the point standings have seven different teams represented. In other words, on a given race day, any of the current 27 drivers can win or be competitive.
Will this parity continue this year? That’s not known, but consider the fact teams haven’t even seen an oval yet on the schedule. The next race is on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil; then the teams will head to the Indy 500 with five of the next six venues on ovals. If the parity does continue, IndyCar might be looking at the most exciting and competitive season in its history.
Additional source: IndyCar