This past season may have been one of the best seasons Indycar has experienced in many years. An unexpected champion, engine competition, a bold new chassis and famous fresh faces all made 2012 a season for the record books. But, like most things Indycar, stupidity in the background overshadows good on the track.
I’ve been giving some thought on the 2012 season and how it played out. In this two part series, I’ll break down what I felt were the top ten stories of the 2012 IZOD Indycar Series season. I look forward to your feedback on this series.
Story #10-Mike Conway abruptly quits oval racing
Honestly, I can’t really say I blame Mike one bit. He’s gotten airborne on ovals enough times to get an IFR Pilot Rating. Let’s not forget about his history of scary shunts at Indy, one ending his season and almost his career and the other sending him airborne yet again into the catch fence. The year in between those two incidents,2011, saw Conway miss the 500 as he could never find speed in the #27 at Andretti Autosport. During the week of the 2012 MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, Conway made one of the gutsiest moves of his career, telling A.J. Foyt he no longer wished to race on ovals. Conway was replaced by Wade Cunningham in the 14 for the final race of the 2012 season. Conway’s Indycar future remains up in the air.
Story #9-Ed Carpenter wins the MAVTV 500
For the second year in a row, Ed Carpenter wins the final race of the IZOD Indycar Series season. Carpenter became the first Owner/Driver winner in the series since Adrian Fernandez in 2004. Ed drove a masterful race, staying near the front of the field during the event and leading 62 of 250 laps, but waiting to make his move near the end. Ed drove away from Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon to claim his second career win, and the first win for Ed Carpenter Racing.
Story #8-Hot start for James Hinchcliffe
2011 Rookie of the Year James Hinchcliffe started off the 2012 season by letting his hair down in St. Pete. That is, the new driver of the GoDaddy car attended driver intros at St. Pete as “Manica.” Known as a fun loving guy off the track, Hinch proved he’s all business on the track, starting the season with finishes of 4th, 6th, 3rd, 6th and 6th. For a brief time after Long Beach, Hinch actually was the points leader. James may have provided one of the moments of the year at Indianapolis on Pole Day when he produced a pair of Greg Moore’s red driving gloves from his fire suit after his run. hinch finished strong at Indy in 6th place, but getting taken out by the hole in the track at Detroit seemed to literally take the wheels off his season. even though James would finish 4th at Texas and 3rd in Milwaukee, his season rounded off with finishes of 17, 22, 12, 5, 26, 15 and 13.
Story #7-Rubinho Joins KV Racing
Honestly, I never thought I would write about Formula One mainstay Rubens Barrichello in an Indycar. I also never thought I’d wear a size XXL shirt again, but that happened also. Anyway, Rubens found himself without a ride after the 2011 Formula One season as he was bounced at Williams in favor of Bruno Senna, or rather Bruno Senna’s money. Rubens discussed things with his “Brother” Tony Kanaan, and soon a ride at KV Racing Technology materialized for the incredibly friendly Brazilian. Rubinho showed flashes of brilliance during the season, but ultimately the results just didn’t come. There’s no doubt Rubens was treated like a rock star everywhere the series went in 2012. Fans embraced him immediately and his popularity skyrocketed. Unfortunately, the money for a return in 2013 didn’t materialize, so Rubens has decided to return home to Brazil.
Story #6-‘Cause I’m a pothole…..
Juan Pablo Montoya may have had an explosive race at Daytona, but nobody tore up the track like Indycar did on the Belle Isle Circuit in Detroit. Literally. On Lap 38 of the race, a rather large piece of track ripped up and locked up James Hinchcliffe’s wheels, sending the Canadian driver into the tire barrier. After further track inspection, it was discovered that large chunks of pavement were coming up all over the track. The race was red flagged for two hours while repairs were made. After repairs were completed, the race was shortened to 60 laps from the original 92 as time constraints dictated the change. In one of the more memorable Detroit street parades in history, Scott Dixon took home the win. Roger Penske, a pricipal of the event, promised repairs to the track and a return to the old circuit layout for the next event.
Be on the lookout soon for Part two of the Top 10 stories of 2012!