IndyCars: 2012 Season Review Driver-by-Driver Rankings (28-22)

Continuing on from yesterday’s bottom-seven-ranked drivers of the 2012 IndyCar Series season, our correspondent Matt Lennon pores through the statistics to review the next seven on his list…

28th Place: Mike Conway

Mike Conway Mike Conway Mike Conway

Every racing driver knows, or should understand at least, the dangers associated with their chosen vocation. Having said that, all respect in the world should go to Mike Conway for getting back into the car at all after two monstrous shunts at Indianapolis in three years, the first one which broke his back and sidelined him the remainder of that 2010 season.

On the flip side, the fact he decided mere days before the season finale at Fontana to quit oval racing would not have been well received from arguably the toughest racer to ever do up a helmet in his team owner – AJ Foyt.

Maybe it was superstition or fear the same thing as what happened a year earlier in Las Vegas might repeat itself, but Mike’s unwillingness to complete what was a poor season anyway sees him ranked lowest of the full-time drivers in this list. Whether we will see him back next year is unlikely.

Team: AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda
Starts: 14 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 1 Top-10 Finishes: 3 Laps Led: 0
DNF: 4 Points: 233 C’ship Position: 21st

27th Place: Sebastian Saavedra

Sebastian Saavedra Sebastian Saavedra Sebastian Saavedra

He’s as talented as they come – just unlucky as hell. Poor kid couldn’t get a kick in a stampede. Three starts this year didn’t really yield much, but Sebastian still has youth on his side at only 22 years of age.

Continuing to plug away in Indy Lights will get him noticed more, especially with his fourth-placed finish in this year’s championship, which included three podiums in four consecutive starts and one victory. Remaining under the Andretti Autosports stable will see him increasingly in line for more frequent drivers with the marque in coming seasons.

Team: Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
Starts: 3 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 0 Laps Led: 0
DNF: 2 Points: 41 C’ship Position: 27th

26th Place: James Jakes

James Jakes James Jakes James Jakes

Based on results, Jakes’ second year was better than his first, as you would come to expect, as the young Brit recorded two Top-10 finishes for the season in Texas and Toronto. Despite that, he still finished the year in the same championship position of 22nd as he did the year before.

I’m sure his sponsors wouldn’t want to hear it, but there was many a time it was difficult to recall if he was even in the race. He was rarely in any accidents, and brought the car home reliably, but unfortunately without much fanfare.

Good quality driver, but could probably afford to take a few risks next season to get himself noticed more. At the time of writing though, Jakes was not confirmed alongside Justin Wilson at Dale Coyne for 2013 as yet, but this may change.

Team: ?
Starts: 15 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 2 Laps Led: 11
DNF: 5 Points: 232 C’ship Position: 22nd

25th Place: Katherine Legge

Katherine Legge Katherine Legge Katherine Legge

It must be tough to come back to American open-wheel racing after a few years in the European DTM Series alongside a four-time Champ Car series champion in Sebastien Bourdais and expect to be taken seriously.

Legge is plenty quick, don’t doubt that, but it could be fair to say that for the few races in 2012 where both she and Bourdais started alongside each other, she was more often than not quietly pushed into the shade by her more illustrious team-mate.

Following Indianapolis however, Legge only saw Bourdais on the track on the same weekend once for the remainder of the year – at Sonoma – but his results outshone hers in the same car elsewhere. At this stage, Dragon has secured sponsorship for both cars to run a full season, so Legge will be seeing her French counterpart more frequently next year and will need to show her boss Jay Penske that she can run with the big boy on an even scale.

Team: Dragon Racing Lotus/Chevrolet
Starts: 10 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 1 Laps Led: 0
DNF: 4 Points: 137 C’ship Position: 26th

24th Place: Townsend Bell

Townsend Bell Townsend Bell Townsend Bell

Gee this bloke is quick. It is clear Townsend is not ready to hang up the helmet yet, as was proven by a gutsy drive from 20th to ninth in the 500 this year. However, the personable Californian is running on the wrong side of his youth in terms of how his career goes, but for a quick, reliable driver, it is still tough to look past Bell to deliver a quality performance.

Bell has been seen more frequently on IndyCar telecasts in 2012 as a pit-lane reporter – a role he has taken to like a duck to water. It is obvious he knows an IndyCar like the back of his hand but has also shown he is ready to progress perhaps into a role as a pitlane pundit and interviewer once he does decide to climb out of the car for good.

Team: Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports Honda
Starts: 1 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 1 Laps Led: 0
DNF: 0 Points: 26 C’ship Position: 30th

23rd Place: Simona de Silvestro

Simona de Silvestro Simona de Silvestro Simona de Silvestro

Season 2012 can best be summed up as a wasted year that the super-quick ‘Swiss Miss’ will want to forget. After bursting on to the scene in 2010 and 2011 with HVM Racing, de Silvestro made her mark and made the rest of the paddock take notice. The latter of those two years was marred by a number of significant accidents which resulted in concussions and severe burns to her hands.

And then in 2012, when things were looking better and she was more focused than ever, her car proved to be slower than a wet working week, largely due to the poorer than poor Lotus engine.

Still, she kept her head up and plugged away, despite being parked by stewards on more than one occasion. However, her early performances were not forgotten, and a new start at KV Racing for 2013 yields promise. With former series champion Tony Kanaan as a team-mate, you can bet de Silvestro will mine his extensive bank of knowledge and experience for every tip she can get, and better things are surely ahead.

Team: HVM Racing Lotus
Starts: 15 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 0 Laps Led: 0
DNF: 9 Points: 182 C’ship Position: 24th

22nd Place: E.J. Viso

EJ Viso EJ Viso EJ Viso

Credit first where it’s due. E.J started 2012 well, as he should have been expected to do considering the quality of the car he was in. Two Top-10 finishes in the first four races should have heralded more positive results as the year went on.

Unfortunately, this didn’t materialise, and a string of five races later in the year where his best result was a lowly 16th place saw his bosses Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven gradually lose patience with the Venezuelan.

There are reports Viso is underway with putting together his own team for 2013, however news on this venture appears to have stalled, despite Viso enjoying long relationships with state-owned oil and petroleum companies back in his homeland.

We’ll see where this one goes. He may end up making friends with Ed Carpenter and bringing his financial backing to turn Carpenter’s team into a two-car effort. Stranger things could happen.

Team: KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
Starts: 15 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 1 Top-10 Finishes: 4 Laps Led: 27
DNF: 3 Points: 244 C’ship Position: 20th

Stay tuned for our next instalment in the 2012 IndyCar Series Driver Rankings, which will be published tomorrow!

Matthew Lennon
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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.