The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series championship season provided fans of America’s premier open-wheeler series with another end-of-their seats, thrilling championship year that will go down as one of the most exciting in the sport’s history.

Ultimately, it was Dario Franchitti who took a third championship at the final round when a mistake from championship leader Will Power cost him the title, but the championship was also about the 38 other drivers who made the grid in the seventeen-round season. What of their stories, who cut the mustard, and who failed to make the grade?

In the second of a five-part series, our IndyCar correspondent Matt Lennon rates all of the grid’s performers in 2010, ranking positions 32 to 25 today. Enjoy!

32. Davey Hamilton
Davey Hamilton Davey Hamilton

Another veteran of the series, Hamilton is maintaining his involvement in the IndyCar Series through his commentary work with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network alongside his Firestone Indy Lights program. In 2010, Davey crashed out of the Indy 500 on the first lap, alongside an 18th place finish in Chicago.

Team: De Ferran Dragon Racing Championship Ranking: 36th Points: 23
Starts: 2 DNFs: 1 Best Grid: 14th Best Result: 18th Laps Led: 0 Laps Raced: 199


31. Sebastian Saavedra
Sebastian Saavedra Sebastian Saavedra

Firmly planted as a front-runner in the Indy Lights Series, Saavedra is slowly stepping up to IndyCars, starting two races in 2010. Qualifying in 33rd and last place for the Indy 500 from a hospital bed thanks to improbable luck following an accident, Saavedra crashed out in the race. Signing for Conquest Racing in September 2010, Sebastian finished 16th in the final race of 2010 in Miami.

Team: Bryan Herta & Conquest Racing Championship Ranking: 33rd Points: 29
Starts: 2 DNFs: 1 Best Grid: 24th Best Result: 16th Laps Led: 0 Laps Raced: 358


30. Adam Carroll
Adam Carroll Adam Carroll

Winning the 2008-09 A1GP championship for Team Ireland caught Michael Andretti’s attention, so much so that Carroll was signed and finished both races in impressive style without much time to adjust to the car. A former member of the Honda Young Driver program, expect bigger things from Carroll in coming years.

Team: Andretti Autosport Championship Ranking: 34th Points: 26
Starts: 2 DNFs: 2 Best Grid: 10th Best Result: 16th Laps Led: 0 Laps Raced: 145


29. Paul Tracy
Paul Tracy Paul Tracy

Question: How can a former series champion not be able to secure a full-time ride these days? Answer: By qualifying for the Indy 500 before withdrawing a successful time and not being able to beat it. Paul’s rather substantial faux-pas at the Indy 500 may indicate that the “Thrill from West Hill” has seen better days in terms of an in-car career and is looking to move into team management or a non-driving role in the IndyCar Series.

Team: KV Racing / Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Championship Ranking: 27th Points: 91
Starts: 5 DNFs: 1 Best Grid: 12th Best Result: 6th Laps Led: 18 Laps Raced: 552


28. Mario Moraes
Mario Moraes Mario Moraes

2010 was a very disappointing year following some successes in 2009. Aside from the death of his father, 2009 was peppered with positive moments on-track, which didn’t translate into further success in 2010. Regularly finishing at the wrong end of the field, Mario is capable of much better and will want to rectify this sooner rather than later.

Team: KV Racing Championship Ranking: 15th Points: 287
Starts: 17 DNFs: 10 Best Grid: 7th Best Result: 5th Laps Led: 0 Laps Raced: 1,452


27. J.R. Hildebrand
JR Hildebrand JR Hildebrand

The 2009 Indy Lights champion, although making two starts for Dreyer & Reinbold, will be looking to put together a full-time package for 2011. A talented driver, Hildebrand finished on the lead-lap at Mid-Ohio before crashing out of his second race at Infineon

Team: Dreyer & Reinbold Championship Ranking: 35th Points: 26
Starts: 2 DNFs: 1 Best Grid: 18th Best Result: 16th Laps Led: 0 Laps Raced: 123


26. Tomas Scheckter
Tomas Scheckter Tomas Scheckter

Tomas is on his way back to the race-winning heights he was at a few years back. Six starts in 2010, leading 5 laps in the Indy 500 in May, Tomas is a chip off the old competitive block of his F1 world-champion father. All he needs is sponsorship to get him a full-time seat. Don’t give up on Tomas yet.

Team: Dreyer & Reinbold / Conquest Racing Championship Ranking: 24th Points: 149
Starts: 6 DNFs: 1 Best Grid: 10th Best Result: 13th Laps Led: 5 Laps Raced: 803


25. Hideki Mutoh
Hideki Mutoh Hideki Mutoh

Joining Newman-Haas in 2010, Hideki struggled for most of the year. A good qualifier, but he often couldn’t translate the same speed on race day and achieved not one top-10 finish all season. Hideki has plenty to work on during the off-season.

Team: Newman/Haas Racing Championship Ranking: 18th Points: 250
Starts: 17 DNFs: 4 Best Grid: 4th Best Result: 12th Laps Led: 1 Laps Raced: 2,116


[Original images via AUTOSPORT, Flickr, IndyCar official site and LAT]

COMING SOON! The IndyCar drivers ranked 24 to 17!

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.