The 2013 season began pretty well for Barracuda Racing, with Alex Tagliani behind the wheel. They started out with a top-ten finish at St. Pete. Great start, right?! Well, unfortunately, that would be their only top-ten July 14th, nearly 112 days later. During those 112 days, Tags amassed 163 points, or 12 points a race. That is dreadful.
|Tagliani's chances of keeping the ride faded as the season went on (Photo: Todd Warshaw)|
Bryan Herta made the decision to sack Alex Tagliani following Toronto, replacing him with Italian Luca Filippi. Luca, a former GP2 driver, who decided to come to America after things in Europe never played itself out. Filippi was looking to find a way into F1 but began to explore his options last season, mainly in Indycar. Although nothing came together, Filippi came back in 2013 and finally got his chance. He has now run at Mid-Ohio, Baltimore, and both races in Houston. He ran well at Mid-Ohio, had a mechanical issue in Baltimore, and looked very racy in Houston, finishing in the top-ten in race 1 and setting the fastest lap in race 2, although an early incident put him out of contention in that race. This makes Luca a prime candidate for the ride next year.
The other main candidate for the ride is former Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand. Hildebrand was fired following his crash on lap three of the 2013 Indianapolis 500. JR raced at Sonoma and finished P16 and will race for BHA at Fontana next weekend.
So, who do I pick between the two? Easy decision for me. Luca Filippi. Now, this is not meant to bash JR Hildebrand. I respect JR. Good driver, great with the fans, very mature, all around great guy, and he should be in an Indycar, but regardless of the performance of Panther Racing during his tenure there, he had his chances to shine and could not capitalize. Too many mistakes.
|Luca driving his way through the streets of Baltimore (Photo: Rob Carr)|
And then there's Luca Filippi, who has never had a shot in the big leagues until now. He rocked out in GP2. Last year, he was sitting next to his phone waiting for a call. GP2 team Scuderia Coloni put him in a car at his home track at Monza, and what does Filippi do? He wins the damn race. That is talent. That is what I want to see in Indycar. I want to see this nice guy finally get a chance to prove himself in the big leagues. He comes to Indycar, and what does he do? He opens eyes. Bryan Herta has commented many times that he loves the presence of Filippi in the garage and in the car.
You ask me who I would put in the car? I say Luca Filippi any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Give the guy a shot.
Let me know what you think.