IndyCars: 2013 Review – Driver Rankings Part 1

From the drop of the first green flag in sunny St Petersburg, Florida, through to the flying of the chequered flag across the country in Fontana, California, the IndyCar Series once again delivered some heart-in-mouth moments and racing that will take serious effort to try and forget.

A total of 39 drivers suited up and turned at least one lap in anger strapped into one of the Dallara DW12 machines. Beginning here and continuing over the next four parts is the official RichardsF1.com driver-by-driver rankings on the IndyCar Series for season 2013.


39th: Michel Jourdain Jr

Michel Jourdain Jr Michel Jourdain Jr Michel Jourdain Jr
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Races: 0 Pole Positions: 0 Wins: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 0 Retirements: 0
Laps Led: 0 Points: 0 Championship: 39th

By virtue of having made an appearance in the series, Jourdain must be included to ensure the comprehensiveness of this article… but that’s about it.

The former CART race-winner was brought in once again by former employer Bobby Rahal essentially on the back of said former prowess to try his hand at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, but was the only man not to qualify for the race itself.

The eventuality was largely justified as, for one reason or another, Jourdain never clicked into gear at any stage with his unfamiliar car and makeshift team and was subsequently 5mph off the pace of even the next slowest qualifier.

At a racetrack where ten-thousandths of a second make all the difference, a full 5mph was barely worth even turning up on Sunday for Bump Day. Jourdain may as well have headed out in a horse and carriage – it would have made no difference.

Subsequently, no attempt was made to try and scrape on to the grid, and everybody parted ways. It will be a surprise to see Jourdain try again next year unless his participation is confirmed now and he at least has some time to try and wrangle some testing duties in advance.


38th: Lucas Luhr

Lucas Luhr Lucas Luhr Lucas Luhr
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (RW Motorsports) Honda
Races: 1 Pole Positions: 0 Wins: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 0 Retirements: 1
Laps Led: 0 Points: 8 Championship: 36th

Sarah Fisher can never be criticised for giving a rookie a start in the Indycar Series – even if he is 34 years old at the time. German racer Lucas Luhr is an established and proven sports car racer both in America and Europe, with a long list of accolades under his belt. Such triumphs include class wins at the 24 hours of Nurburgring, Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans no less, along with multiple class championships in the American Le Mans Series.

Such a pedigree means the term “rookie” should be deemed an insult however by definition, this is the case. Luhr tried his hand at Sonoma this year, finishing the race in 22nd place, before disappearing back to more familiar and comfortable territory.


37th: Buddy Lazier

Buddy Lazier Buddy Lazier Buddy Lazier
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Lazier Partners Racing Chevrolet
Races: 1 Pole Positions: 0 Wins: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 0 Retirements: 1
Laps Led: 0 Points: 8 Championship: 38th

Some people never get over the adulation of the fans, as the old saying goes.

Winning the Indy 500 is a career-topping achievement for many, and Buddy Lazier’s name and likeness appears on the Borg-Warner Trophy courtesy of his 1996 triumph (which should not be discounted as an outstanding achievement even if none of the CART-competing teams were allowed to enter).

The 46-year old was an ‘also ran’, qualifying 32nd and retiring after 44 laps with a mechanical failure at this year’s showpiece event. Time to move aside, Buddy.


36th: Katherine Legge

Katherine Legge Katherine Legge Katherine Legge
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Schmidt Peterson Hamilton HP Motorsports (Team Pelfrey) Honda
Races: 1 Pole Positions: 0 Wins: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 0 Retirements: 0
Laps Led: 0 Points: 8 Championship: 37th

The ultra-talented Brit lass has definitely not had the rub of the green in recent years.

All was looking very promising when she was signed for a full year by Dragon Racing under Lotus power last year before a switch to Chevrolet engines and a lack of powerplant availability forced her relegation to driving duties primarily on the ovals, with road courses assigned to teammate Sebastien Bourdais.

A bitter legal dispute with sponsor Truecar eventuated after Legge was dumped entirely for 2013 in favour of Sebastian Saavedra.

So she instead plied her trade in the radical DeltaWing in this year’s American Le Mans Series, making a one-off appearance at Indianapolis, finishing 7 laps adrift in 26th for Sam Schmidt’s merry men. Fingers crossed this isn’t the last the IndyCar Series sees of Legge, as it is clearly crying out for another successful female to tread the wearing path left by Danica Patrick. She is definitely quick enough to do so, but needs a full-time drive to prove it.


35th: Stefan Wilson

Stefan Wilson Stefan Wilson Stefan Wilson
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Races: 1 Pole Positions: 0 Wins: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 0 Retirements: 0
Laps Led: 0 Points: 14 Championship: 33rd

The promising younger brother of Justin Wilson was recommended to Dale Coyne for a one-off appearance around the tricky Baltimore circuit in September and joining his elder sibling for the event saw the duo become the first siblings to race in the same team since Gary and Tony Bettenhausen in 1983.

Stefan kept his nose clean and out of trouble in what was a fairly chaotic race further up the field, coming home a strong 16th.

Stefan needs to get his career back on track after a very strong year in Indy Lights in 2011 saw him finish third in the Drivers’ Championship, driving for Andretti Autosport no less.

Inexplicably, he had no seat at all in 2012 apart from a start at Fontana at the Lights season finale, in which he finished sixth. The one-off at Baltimore during the 2013 season was his only venture for the year also. Here’s hoping somebody picks him up for 2014 for more than one appearance at least.


34th: Townsend Bell

Townsend Bell Townsend Bell Townsend Bell
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Panther Racing Chevrolet
Races: 1 Pole Positions: 0 Wins: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 0 Retirements: 0
Laps Led: 1 Points: 10 Championship: 35th

Bell, for his longevity in American racing, has never reached the lofty heights his youth career in the Indy Lights Series in 2000 and 2001 demonstrated, with only 37 starts over thirteen years for a hodge-podge bag of teams.

Even with a handful of absolutely impressive finishes in that time, it has never been able to come together for Bell at any stage. Indianapolis has largely been his hunting ground for the last five years or so, save for a start in the Las Vegas tragedy of 2011. While still technically competing on occasion in the grandstanding redneck series that is the Stadium Super Trucks, Bell has found his post-racing home in the commentary box at the Indycar Series, taking to the role with far greater ease than he’s perhaps displayed on his rare appearances in the cockpit.

An outstanding knowledge of the Dallara cars mixed with a comfortable and personable speaking manner, Bell has clearly found his non-racing calling. If the sponsors keep throwing money at him to race at Indy, expect further attempts and maybe even a positive result – make no mistake, he is quick – but I think a gradual fade into the air-conditioned comfort of the com-box is in his immediate future.


33rd: Conor Daly

Conor Daly Conor Daly Conor Daly
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda
Races: 1 Pole Positions: 0 Wins: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 0 Retirements: 0
Laps Led: 0 Points: 11 Championship: 34th

Daly is currently keeping his feet wet in both European and American open-wheel racing ladders, trying to land a seat in the top flight of either, with the former looking the more promising.

Strong showings in the GP3 Series this year, which included a win in Valencia, must surely be attracting the eye of Formula One team bosses.

A certain Anthony Joseph Foyt also gave Daly his IndyCar Series start at Indianapolis this year, bringing the car home in 22nd place – a solid recovery given he had a big crash during Thursday’s practice session.

Guided by his accomplished racer father, Derek, it is a certainty Conor will end up in the right place for his career, however where that ultimately ends up being remains very much uncertain.


32nd: Luca Filippi

Luca Filippi Luca Filippi Luca Filippi
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Barracuda Racing Honda
Races: 4 Pole Positions: 0 Wins: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 1 Retirements: 1
Laps Led: 0 Points: 53 Championship: 30th

Spin the wheel once again to see where this talented racer may end up, with the likely outcome pointing to the Indycar Series, although perhaps on a full-time basis in 2014.

Finally realising his loud banging on the door of Formula One was being left unanswered, Filippi turned his attention Stateside and made four appearances on the 2013 calendar getting acclimatised to his new surroundings, after many years of hopping between open-wheel categories in Europe and Asia.

Talk of a full-time ride with Bryan Herta’s team continues to gather pace, but remains unconfirmed at present. Time is running out for Filippi to make his mark, as he approaches his fourth decade of life and the parade of young, talented and cashed up kids continues to make strides towards the top.


31st: Pippa Mann

Pippa Mann Pippa Mann Pippa Mann
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Races: 4 Pole Positions: 0 Wins: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 0 Retirements: 3
Laps Led: 0 Points: 34 Championship: 31st

Unfortunately, Pippa Mann is carving out a niche as a not particularly quick substitute driver with a propensity for crashing.

From four appearances this year – each with Dale Coyne Racing – Mann was still peddling at the finish only once, coming home in an uninspiring 15th place at Pocono.

Meetings with the wall at Indianapolis, Texas and Fontana sent Coyne’s repair bill upward and Mann’s stock downward with time quickly running out on a serious attempt at an American open-wheel career.

Like Townsend Bell, a move into commentary (covering the Indy Lights Series for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network) may prove to be a saving grace and a way to remain in the paddock for the future.


30th: James Davison

James Davison James Davison James Davison
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Races: 2 Pole Positions: 0 Wins: 0
Top-5 Finishes: 0 Top-10 Finishes: 0 Retirements: 0
Laps Led: 0 Points: 27 Championship: 32nd

The next in the line of Davison racing drivers made an impressive mark on the IndyCar Series in 2013, making two appearances at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma. The youngster comfortably went wheel-to-wheel with far more established stars and at the very least, racing cleanly if less than spectacularly.

Pundits are generally on the fence on this kid, some seeing potential and others seeing another through the Dale Coyne ‘rent-a-driver’ revolving door. Don’t get me wrong, it is tough to talk down any fellow Australian making their mark on the world stage, especially as James carries with him a hugely successful year in Indy Lights in 2009 where he won one race and finished on the podium four times.

However, that was 2009 and we’re now approaching 2014, and Davison can no longer dine out on that alone. Give him another chance and he will again show you what he can do, but with so many to select from, it would take a fair bit of financial backing in a tough global economic climate to illuminate the lights around this talented youngster’s name once again.


Find out who ranks between 20th to 29th in our second instalment of our IndyCar Series driver-by-driver rankings, which will be online soon!

Matthew Lennon
The following two tabs change content below.

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.

Latest posts by Richard Bailey (see all)

Share