IndyCar Top Ten 2008

To close out the 2008 season, and to put some content on this thing, I’m using the age-old device of the Top Ten List. First up is IndyCar, then there is Formula 1, and then I’m finishing with GP2 (if I can stretch that to ten drivers).

2008 IRL IndyCar Series

1. Dixon (1st in points)
Performed well for nearly the whole year, with just the blips at Watkins Glen and Sonoma the only real exceptions. A worthy champion although there remains the question mark over whether he’d have done so well without the advantage of his pit position.

2. Castroneves (2nd)
I think he was solid throughout the whole year, wasn’t he? Didn’t quite have enough for the title despite scoring very strongly in the last third of the year (he never finished lower than 2nd in six consecutive races). Just as in the points race, and on the track, deciding where to place Helio and Scott on any list like this is a very close run thing.

3. Kanaan (3rd)
Managed to take what was generally an underperforming AGR team and still finish 3rd in points ahead of Wheldon and Briscoe, in a year when you could make a serious case for Ganassi and Penske having a performance advantage over every other team. All the while he seemed to be the glue holding AGR together as it seemed to be trying to fracture. Not bad Tony, not bad.

4. Wheldon (4th)
Had a generally good year but probably could have done better. I think he’d agree with that. His first half of the year (mostly ovals) was better than his second half of the year (mostly road courses) which pre-season you would have expected. I’m not sure if the tipping point was the whole thing of whether Kanaan had taken his seat, but it seemed that it knocked his confidence in the team. If so, I don’t blame him.

5. Briscoe (5th)
Much improved. Some bad luck early on cost him points and at one point there were suggestions that his drive was in question. He bounced back with a win at Milwaukee which seemed to change things for the better. He’ll show well next season as I think a lot of the little niggles will be ironed out.

6. Hunter-Reay (8th)
Poked his nose among the Big Three more often than you might have expected, and took a great win at Watkins Glen.

7. Servia (9th)
Oriol was the top-scoring ‘transition’ driver because he’s a solid driver with tons of experience, and it showed. KVR’s steadily increasing pace on the ovals was almost certainly down to him.

8. Power (12th)
Servia scored more in points but Power showed more flashes of brilliant driving. Unfortunately some bad luck tangling with other cars meant the end results often weren’t what they could and should have been.

9. Andretti (7th)
He had a reasonable year, less good in terms of results than before but that’s probably down to AGR hitting a bad patch by their standards. I didn’t like Marco much before this season but he seems to have reached a good place in his head and he’s growing on me as a driver. I was impressed by his run at Milwaukee until the crash.

10. Patrick (6th)
Scored her first win in the big cars by being able to conserve fuel while others couldn’t (or wouldn’t). The rest of the year wasn’t much to write home about but again that was probably as much down to AGR as anything. She finished ahead of Andretti in the points and picking between them is a close call, but I’m marking her down because she whines even more than he does, and that’s an accomplishment. Not sure if she’s whining more now or if Marco has cut down, I suspect the latter so I mark him higher accordingly (plus Marco gets bonus points for doing A1GP). If Danica isn’t careful she’ll soon rival Scott Speed or Nigel Mansell in the whining stakes. I guess it keeps her at the top of the Recent Articles lists on the websites.

Surprise Of The Year
Moraes jumping straight from Formula 3 and scoring some decent results through the year considering his experience and the size of his team – even if his first oval at Homestead was a bit of a culture shock for him.
The other surprise was Mutoh, he had some very good races.

Driver I Most Enjoyed Watching
Ernesto ‘EJ’ Viso. How can you pick anyone else? I watched him in GP2 last season (where he had a similar reputation as he gained in IRL) and it was fun to see him adapt to American racing and their unique interpretation of blocking rules. I seem to remember Doornbos struggling with it last year! It would be great to see Doornbos vs Viso in IndyCars.

Caveats

I have a terrible memory. I’ve probably forgotten some major event/s which should mean a driver is ranked higher / lower than I’ve put them here. And if you disagree with me, make your case in the comments!

2009 News
I’m sure you’ve all by now seen the news that the Belle Isle race has been cancelled*. I can’t say I’m too upset at this news! The race was a procession. It all looked great on TV, particularly the ALMS cars, yet both races were pretty boring in terms of racing. Sorry to all the people in the Detroit region who will miss out but hey, maybe they can bring the Michigan speedway back instead.
* yes we use two L’s in Britain

I mentioned Robert Doornbos earlier, and he has apparently been negotiating with HVM. However, a report in Autosport magazine this week quotes him as saying he’s close to a drive with NHL and the HVM reports are wide of the mark.

“I’ve seen the reports but they are not true. I’ve been talking to HVM but Newman/Haas/Lanigan is the team I’ve been in contact with most. I want to be in the best team possible and hope to have a deal signed by Christmas, but I don’t know exactly who that will be with. I hope I can bring ING to the IRL in 2009.”

ING sponsorship would be huge, racing fans will know them from their involvement with Renault in F1.
There are also reports of Bourdais talking of going back to America which everyone else in the World of Blogs is getting excited about at least on the IRL side, but I still don’t believe it’ll happen. I think he’ll remain a STR driver and I want that to be the case.

Finally, check out the I Am Mindy Show at MyNameIsIRL.com. Go to the site and type ‘podcast’ into his new search box at the top of the page. He’s done two shows now at roughly half hour each, so go now and listen to both!

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4 thoughts on “IndyCar Top Ten 2008

  1. Well, I suppose that it’s a reasonably fair appraisal of some of the talent…but I have to err to the side of my own impecable judgment (but not my spelling) on this one, Pat. ;)See the results of My Very Own Top-Ten here:http://tractalk.wordpress.com/2008/10/31/my-very-own-top-ten/I'm sure you’ll enjoy a moment of either bemusement at the rantings of a lunatic mind or possibly need to take a pill to control the rage you feel. Either way, I’ve accomplished my goal! :D

  2. Well I aim to be reasonably fair. :)How the hell did you include Paul Tracy?? That’s lunacy! I mean yeah he was excellent at Edmonton but can you really say that his single drive was better than RHR’s whole season?Interesting calls on Rice and Junqueira though..

  3. Well sir, it may well be lunacy (though I don’t recall now exactly what phase the moon was in when I wrote it).I’ll stand by the pick of PT based, as I said in my list, upon the evidence: To wit, he’d been out of an Open Wheel Indy-style car since April. He steps into what is arguably (post-mergification) the top-tier collection of drivers in North America with a team (Vision) that heretofore had performed marginally at-best.The Walker-led crew was a team of refugees from CCWS that were hauled together, last minute style, in order for PT to be at the only race on his home turf to sell tickets.Without benefit of a test (other than a brief shakedown at the Edmonton circuit), he spanked his teammates, he spanked several of the vaunted big name stars of the series, and showed beyond the shadow of a doubt that he not only belongs at the top level of North American motorsports, but that if he had comparable equipment he’s still capable of being on-par with the dominant driver of the series…who I listed as #1.*Whew* That was a lot, wasn’t it? Not that it persuaded you or any of your readers, but…well hell, I’ve convinced myself all over again. That’s gotta be worth something…

  4. Yeah it was an impressive performance by all concerned, especially given how different the car is to the DP01 and that Walker’s guys probably knew nothing about it.But still, he didn’t have to do it over a season! Obviously had PT actually driven for a full season he would almost certainly have been high in *anyone’s* list (apart maybe from that crazy Defender guy).

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