Final Winners and Losers - 2017 IndyCar Season

If you missed the news, my website will be inactive following this post, where I give the standard run down of Winners and Losers from the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Season. Rather than posting straight to my website, Winners and Losers will be streamlined onto my Twitter account, so no need to worry, the Cone of Shame will live on.

It has been a hell of a ride, and I want to thank everyone who made my website into something that I enjoyed. I will miss it, but I am also looking forward to the future.

With that said, here are the final Winners and Losers that will be posted on this website -


Josef Newgarden
How about that for a first season with Team Penske?! It usually takes drivers a good two or three years to come to grips with Penske. It took Josef Newgarden a good three months to get his feet wet at Penske and to become a constant threat to win. His stunning overtakes at Mid-Ohio and Gateway gave the product of the Mazda Road to Indy his first of what looks like will be many career championships. He won the title despite some disappointing finishes at Indianapolis and Texas. Newgarden is a great champion for IndyCar.

Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon somehow managed to put cracks in the Team Penske juggernaut, including an absolutely epic performance at Road America. Dixon is one of the drivers who likely cannot wait for the new cars in 2018, as it might give him a fighting chance to dominate Team Penske again. The fact that he was even close enough to hang with Penske made for a great 2017 battle.

Simon Pagenaud
Despite him not reclaiming the championship he had won in 2016, Simon Pagenaud once again proved that he is no joke. It wasn't as smooth of a year for Team Penske, nor did it see as many wins as he had in 2016, but Pagenaud was insanely consistent and fast. According to my buddy Chad Smith, Pagenaud became only the third driver in major motorsports to complete every lap in the season (Schumacher 2000 and Kanaan 2004). Expect a strong run again from Pagenaud in 2018.

Graham Rahal
The single car team driven by Graham Rahal will likely miss the aero kits the most. Rahal was on the brink of being marked down as a failure before the 2015 season relaunched his career. Now, Rahal is widely considered one of the best in the paddock. He and Scott Dixon carried the banner for Honda all season. The biggest question is - will Rahal continue to be successful now that there's a universal kit again?

Honorable Mention - Takuma Sato
Takuma Sato had a decent season, but it doesn't matter when you win the Indianapolis 500. His absolutely titanic performance at Indy is one that will never be forgotten, and it really couldn't happen to a nicer guy.


JR Hildebrand
JR Hildebrand was so disappointing in 2017. With big shoes to fill after Josef Newgarden left the team, Hildebrand was expected to be very strong on the season, especially on ovals. While he was strong on ovals (two P2 finishes), he was every bit as terrible on road courses. After being dropped by the team, Hildebrand wrote a piece on how he could keep his head up high. Some of his rationales were that he got to try new setups and strayed away from the status quo... I mean, if that helps you sleep at night, go for it. I for one would have done whatever I could to keep my job, but hey, to each his own.

Tony Kanaan
Tony Kanaan was finally put of his misery by Chip Ganassi, a marriage that never seemed to work. Kanaan was set to join the third car of the team in 2014 before a crash forced Dario Franchitti to retire. Kanaan moved to the #10 car and put up a mix of consistent results infused with some really bad races. Other than his Fontana 2014 win, Kanaan failed to cross the line P1 or to ever make an impression. It is especially bad when Scott Dixon went out each week and performed well.

Helio Castroneves
Another full-time season with Team Penske, another season without a championship. Since 2000, Helio Castroneves has come close to winning the title for The Captain, but just has never been able to finish the deal. Several costly mistakes in 2017 once again prevented from Helio winning the title, and has now been assigned to Penske's relaunched Acura-IMSA program. Helio will be back at Indianapolis, as he goes for four Indy 500 wins.

AJ Foyt Racing
After starting fresh in 2017, it was clear that AJ Foyt Racing was still very far behind every team in IndyCar. Drivers Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz did not have a prayer at a majority of the races. Despite some promising runs for both drivers, both were fired in the 2017 offseason in favor of Tony Kannaan and Matheus Leist. Like that will make a difference...

Honorable Mention - Sebastien Bourdais
Sebastien Bourdais had a hell of a season going until he got to Indianapolis. The championship leader had a mechanical failure at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. After a great week of practice, Bourdais looked primed for a pole run for the Indianapolis 500. After recording the fastest lap on the first day of qualifying, Bourdais crashed violently in turn two. The result was a fractured hip that ended a majority of his season and his championship. Let's see if he can get off to the same kind of start in 2018.

Cone of Shame

Aero Kits
Aero Kits took all of the action packed momentum had in 2014 after three great seasons with the DW-12 and turned it into a wet fart. Not to worry, as the pointless, expensive, and race ruining aero kits we saw from 2015-2017 are gone, and no one is complaining. Jay Frye and his IndyCar comrades have dropped the kits in favor of a gorgeous new car that is no longer different by manufacturer. Feedback on the 2018 car has been excellent so far, and I cannot wait. But for now, I am so glad aero kits are over. It really added nothing to the series, and turned some exciting races into complete snoozers.

Thanks again so much for reading. Until we meet again.

-Matthew Hickey