The IZOD IndyCar Series has developed into a wide open affair where almost anyone on a given day can win a race. The series has a group of drivers that is as good a quality as we’ve seen in quite awhile. They range from young, old, men, women, former Formula One (F1) and everything in between. Still, as far as experience is concerned, the youngsters have made some noise; but overall, veteran drivers have come to the fore in the point standings, eight races into a 19 event season.
Top 10 heavy with veterans
38 year old Helio Castroneves leads the point standings in his 12th full season in IndyCar. Castroneves also had four years of ChampCar experience prior to IndyCar and the three-time Indy 500 winner is trying to win his first championship (see related articles). Defending IndyCar champion and currently third place overall is 32 year old Ryan Hunter-Reay, who’s in his seventh season of IndyCar after driving three years in ChampCar.
This year’s Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan is 38 years old and fourth in the points – won an IndyCar title back in ’04 and is in his 11th full season in the series after five years of ChampCar competition. Former F1 racer Takuma Sato is 36 years of age and is driving in his fourth IndyCar season after a seven-year career in Formula One.
Young ones are veterans too
There are two 26 year olds in the Top 10: Marco Andretti (2nd) and James Hinchcliffe (9th). However, both are experienced drivers with Andretti already in his eighth season of IndyCar, while his Andretti Autosport teammate Hinchcliffe is in his fourth season. Both were driving as professionals in their teens.
Other veterans residing in the Top 10 include 29 year old Simon Pagenaud (currently sixth overall) who is only in his second year of IndyCar competition but is very much an experienced racer. He has several years in ALMS sports car racing including a LMP championship in 2010, plus Pagenaud drove a season of ChampCar back in ’07. Two-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon resides in seventh and after a couple of years in ChampCar, the 33 year old is now in his 11th season of IndyCar.
Another 33 year old is eighth in the points: Justin Wilson. He too is a former F1 driver from back in ’03 who afterwards drove very competitively in ChampCar for four years before starting a career in IndyCar where he is campaigning in his sixth full season. The current 10th place driver is none other than 40 year old Dario Franchitti who is a four-time IndyCar champion and three-time Indy 500 winner.
The inexperience is showing
As you can see, there’s not much inexperience in the Top 10 in IndyCar. For instance, second-year driver Josef Newgarden and rookie Tristan Vautier – 22 and 23 years of age, respectively – are the past Indy Lights champions these last two years. Both are considered very talented and likely to be future stars in the series; yet, after eight races, Newgarden is 15th and Vautier is 20th. Another inexperienced 23 year old, Sebastian Saavedra, has garnered high praise but currently sits 24th. Still another up-and-coming potential star, 25 year old J.R. Hildebrand, who won the Indy Lights championship in ’09 and the U.S. F2000 series in ’06, recently lost his ride at Panther Racing due to poor performances (source: L.A. Times).
In a very competitive environment for the 2013 season, experience appears to be winning out. Who wins the IndyCar championship will probably look a bit older than some of the young faces coming up through the ranks. A veteran is likely to win the 2013 title with plenty of experience getting them to the top.
What’s the adage? ‘Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.’ That’s certainly the IndyCar theme so far in 2013.
Additional source: IndyCar