Sunday, March 10, 2013

2013 IndyCar Team-By-Team Preview Part I

Two weeks from now the 2013 Izod IndyCar Series season will be underway when the cars take the green flag at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. With thirteen teams scheduled to run a car full-time in 2013, this five part preview takes a look at each team entered for 2013.

Today, three teams, Sarah Fisher-Hartman Racing, AJ Foyt Racing and Barracuda Racing, will be featured.

Sarah Fisher-Hartman Racing
2012 Review
Driver- Josef Newgarden (23rd in points, best finish 11th at St. Pete).
2013 Driver- Newgarden

Despite all the positive energy Josef Newgarden brought to IndyCar in his rookie season, the 2011 Indy Lights champion failed to score a top ten. He had a wonderful chance at Long Beach where he started second, next to Dario Franchitti due to all the Chevrolet taking penalties for engine changes. That ended in turn one when Franchitti gave Newgarden enough of a tap to put him in the tire wall.

What we did learn about Newgarden is he is fast. He scored three fastest laps in 2012 (São Paulo, Toronto and Edmonton), tied with Will Power for the most. He was in position for a podium until Simon Pagenaud blocked Newgarden, forcing him to make slight contact with the wall.

Newgarden did not make many mistakes in 2012 but he has to bring the car home more in 2013. He showed a lot of promise, enough to create rumors Roger Penske was interested in signing him. He had a great month of May, only to have a mechanical failure during the race.

The goal for SFHR and Newgarden should be to keep the pace they had in 2012 and turn it into better results.

AJ Foyt Racing
2012 Review
Driver- Mike Conway through Baltimore (21st, 1 podium), Wade Cunningham at Indianapolis and Fontana (28th, best finish 14th at Fontana).
2013 Driver- Takuma Sato

To be frank, AJ Foyt Racing has not had much success in the past decade but every year they find a way to pull off an impressive finish. Mike Conway was able to snag a second place finish at Toronto in 2012. Though not impressive, Foyt Racing has scored at least one top five a year since the 2006 season, with three podiums in that time frame. However it has been over ten years since Super Tex has won a race, when Airton Daré won his only career race at Kansas.

Viewed as a seat for those on the back nine of a driver's career, Takuma Sato heads to Foyt after his best season in IndyCar. Sato had great chances for wins Long Beach, São Paulo, Indianapolis, Edmonton, Baltimore and Fontana, but could only manage two podiums, with two last lap crashes.

The pairing of AJ Foyt-Takuma Sato is as odd as it gets. The pairing seems promising of stealing a win but so did Vitor Meria at Foyt and the best that could produce was 1 podium and 3 top fives in three seasons. The pairing has potential, but as history has shown, a surprise top five, with sporadic trips in the top ten seem more likely.

Barracuda Racing
2012 Review
Driver- Alex Tagliani (17th, best finish 5th at Mid-Ohio, 1 pole).
2013 Driver- Tagliani

Barracuda Racing (really Bryan Herta Autosport) abandoned the Lotus ship after Long Beach last year and sacrificed a trip to Brazil in doing so, but managed a pole at Texas and 8 top tens in their 11 races with Honda. A full season with Honda is expected and Herta's team should be a factor to win a race.

Tagliani has scored poles in the last two season at unexpected times. With the speed needed to compete on ovals, one can not rule out Tagliani to pick up a win in 2013. However, winning is much easier said than done. Tagliani's only career win came in 2004 at Road America and Tagliani has not scored a podium since Surfers Paradise 2006. Since reunification in 2008, the break down of different amount of teams winning a races goes as followed:

2008- 5 Teams (Ganassi, Newman/Haas/Lanigan, Penske, Andretti, Rahal-Letterman)*
2009- 3 Teams (Penske, Ganassi, Dale Coyne)
2010- 3 Teams (Penske, Andretti, Ganassi)
2011- 5 Teams (Ganassi, Penske, Andretti, Herta, Sarah Fisher)
2012- 5 Teams (Penske, Ganassi, Coyne, Andretti, Ed Carpenter)
*- KV Racing won at Long Beach in 2008. Technically the final ChampCar race and final split race.

The possibility is there for Herta and Tagliani to score a win but will not be easy. The Barracuda Boys should be a threat to win but continuing their string of top tens at the end of 2012 would be a large boost for this team.