In the first installment in this series, I broke down what I considered storied 6-10 of the 2012 IZOD Indycar Series. We talked about Rubinho, Mike Conway, the Detroit Pothole, Hinch’s fast start and Ed Carpenter winning the final race yet again. Now it’s time to wrap up the top 5 stories of the 2012 season.
Story #5-The finish of the Indy 500
As the laps counted down during the 2012 Indianapolis 500, Tony Kanaan found himself in the lead late in the race. Unable to hold off Franchitti, Dixon and Sato, Kanaan dropped to fourth place in the final laps. At the front, Franchitti and Dixon began their duel for the win. After a few laps, Takuma Sato joined the Target boys up front and made short work of Dixon. Sato closed in on Franchitti as the lap counter rolled over to 199. Going into Turn One, Sato attempted a very bold divebomb pass on Dario. For a second, it looked as if Sato was going to pull it off, but the back of his car washed out. Takuma spun up the track, barely missing Dario, and slammed into the North Short Chute wall. There was much controversy after the race as some thought Dario pinched down onto Takuma, causing him to go onto the rumble strips and lose control. Later view of video would show Dario never came down on Sato. Dario Franchitti would win his third Indianapolis 500. Scott Dixon finished second, while Tony Kanaan rounded out the podium.
Story #4-Engine Competition Returns!
For the previous seasons, INDYCAR utilized a spec engine by Honda for all cars in the IZOD Indycar Series. After much consideration, engine supply was opened to multiple manufacturers in 2013, with Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus all answering the bell. Honda Performance Development created the HI12RT V-6 single turbo, pushing 12,000 RPM at 650 horsepower. Chevrolet turned towards Ilmore Engineering to build the Chevy Indy V-6 to essentially the same specs, but utilized a dual turbo instead of a single turbo. Lotus hired (but did not pay) Judd engineering to develop the DC00 Dual turbo V-6, complete with 6 gerbils and a boat anchor. Chevy’s dual turbo proved to shine on tighter, twistier tracks as the turbo could spool more quickly, while Honda seemed more suited to bigger, high speed tracks. Lotus’ engines proved superior at being big piles of crap.
Story #3-Ryan Hunter-Reay Wins the Championship
Of all the drivers that could have won the championship, Ryan Hunter-Reay would not have been near the top of my list. In fact, as the season started, it appeared 2012 was going to be another Will Power led parade to the championship. But, after starting off not-so-good, Hunter-Reay caught fire in the second half of the season. His oval dominance, combined with the drive of his life at Baltimore, propelled RHR to the top of the grid, breaking the Target dominance in the champ’s spot. In fact, the title went down to the last race yet again, with RHR clinching the title only on the last lap as Helio Cqastroneves couldn’t catch him late in the race at Fontana. RHR did exactly what he needed to do to become the champion we all knew he could be.
Story #2-LOL. Lotus…..
I, like many other Indycar fans, was quite excited when Lotus announced they would supply an engine starting in the 2012 season. Too bad that engine never arrived. When Lotus made its entry to the grid at St. Pete, it was in cars used by Dragon Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Bryan Herta Autosport and HVM Racing. By the time Indy rolled around, just five races into the season, the Lotus powered teams had dwindled to just HVM and a one-off effort by Fan Force United. Dragon used Jay Penske’s connections at Penske Racing to secure a Chevrolet engine while Dreyer & Reinbold entred into a technical agreement with Panther Racing to secure their second Chevrolet lease. Bryan Herta elected to skip the Brazil race and place all their effort into getting their new program with Honda up to speed. The teams all claimed Lotus didn’t uphold their end of the development deal, and the lack of performance placed a strain on their sponsorship relations. HVM was not able to drop the deal as their team finances were far too intertwined with Lotus to simply dissolve. By December, Lotus was gone from Indycar, and so was HVM.
Story #1-The Randy Bernard Saga
Starting roughly after the Indianapolis 500, there were already rumors flying that Randy Bernard would be ousted as series CEO. Shortly, those rumors would change into those of a group led by Tony George looking into buying the series. By the end of October, Randy would “leave” Indycar after an emergency meeting of Hulman & Company’s board and Jeff Belskus would be named acting Indycar CEO. Mark Miles was brought in to run Hulman & Company, but the big questions would be why was Randy gone and how would IMS stop the bleeding. After some digging, it was brought to light that Randy had indeed lost the support of owners, as well as angered some major series sponsors. Randy has moved on to take over RFDTV/Rural TV while Indycar remains stuck in their off white milquetoast melodrama.