Scott Dixon adds to a legendary career, capturing his third Indycar Championship. No one thought Dixon had a chance in hell at the title following the first half of the season. Then Pocono happened... Dixon won Pocono, then won both races at Toronto, and solid races at Houston and Fontana saw Dixon amass a gargantuan amount of points, catching and passing Helio Castroneves for the Championship. Hopefully we see Dixon in the #1 car next season.
Helio Castroneves didn't win the title, but it wasn't because of a lack of effort or because of poor results. Helio was easily the most consistent driver on the season. One bad weekend at Houston marred by mechanical failures was a major setback. Having more than one win (Texas) would have also helped his chances, so consistency doesn't always win I guess.
Simon Pagenaud's results are good enough to make me believe he's been in Indycar for more than a decade. Believe it or not, 2013 was just his second year in Indycar after joining Schmidt Peterson Racing in 2012. He recorded his first career win at Detroit Race 2, and later notched another win at Baltimore. A mechanical failure at St. Petersburg was his only poor result of the season. Other than St. Pete, he finished P13 or higher at every race. Talk about consistency. Simon will be back with SPM in 2014.
Justin Wilson was the feel good story of the year despite not winning any races, but damn he came close several times. P3 in Long Beach, the highest finishing Honda at Indy P5, P3 in Detroit Race 1, P2 at Sonoma, P4 at Baltimore, and P3 and P4 in back-to-back races in Houston. Those were all terrific runs. I just cannot fathom what his results would be like if he was in a top tier ride at Ganassi or Penske. He continues to race hard but fair, usually keeping out of trouble and not wrecking others. Top class all the way.
A legendary career has been ended abruptly. Dario Franchitti suffered a broken back, ankle, and suffered a concussion after a terrible crash in the second race at Houston. In the offseason, doctors told Dario that the extent of the injuries would require him to step away from the sport that he loves. Although Dario will still be around in the paddock, it won't be the same without him. We all wish you the best Dario!
A frustrating year for Ryan Hunter-Reay saw the chance to defend his 2012 championship slip through his fingers thanks to many misfortunes. The moment that really summed up his season happened at Pocono, when Hunter-Reay came into the pits but got hit and wrecked by Takuma Sato. Six DNFs ruined any chance at a title run. We will see RHR back in the #28 car next year after one year in the #1 car.
The full time driver with the most disappointing season based off expectations was Graham Rahal, Other than stellar drives at Long Beach and Iowa, Graham had a terrible season. He only cracked the top-ten five times. He also finished 20th or worst five times in the season. Many people had high hopes for him as he joined his father's team for the second time, but first time as a full timer. Will he bounce back in 2014? I am hesitant to say yes, but ultimately, I do feel like he will. Can't get much worse I suppose.
JR Hildebrand had a terrible start to the season after crashing into Will Power under caution, ruining both of their races. Despite a bad start, Hildebrand looked to be turning his woes around after a top-five finish at Long Beach. He carried some of that momentum into Indy, having a solid month leading up to the race. Then, in the race, he crashed with only three laps under his belt. This summed up his tenure at Panther Racing, and it ultimately got him fired. JR looks like he might be out a full-time ride in 2014.
Cone of Shame
A clusterfuck of a season to add to a couple of lackluster years makes people wonder what the resolve of Panther Racing is. JR Hildebrand started out the season, but was fired after crashing a handful of laps into the Indy 500. The ride then alternated between Ryan Briscoe, Oriol Servia, and rookie Carlos Munoz (for one race) for the remainder of the season. Despite all the drivers, sacked driver JR Hildebrand did give the team the best result at Long Beach, P5. Now that they've lost their primary sponsor in National Guard to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and a lot of questions loom over the team for 2014. The team has also not won since 2005. Will something give in 2014?
What a great season! There were definitely drivers and owners left off of both lists, but I limit each to four. Let me know what you think!