Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recapping Driver Changes

This offseason saw a lot of driver changes in the Indycar Series. Here is a quick rundown of the drivers that have changed teams from 2012 to this season, as well as new additions to teams. The first team listed is the team they ran with in 2012, and the subsequent team is who they will be running with in 2013. Here is the list:

Simona de Silvestro: HVM Racing ---> KV Racing

Finally, Simona de Silvestro, who has driven for HVM Racing for her first three years in Indycar, not only gets a teammate (Tony Kanaan isn't a bad one to have) for the first time, but she also gets to ditch the Lotus that gave her no chance in succeeding in 2012. Expect big things from Simona in 2013.


Graham Rahal: Chip Ganassi Racing ---> Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 

Graham Rahal joins his father for the 2013 campaign. Rahal had driven for Chip Ganassi the previous two years with some success, as he finished in the top ten in points both seasons, but Graham did not record a win. He'll look to run up front all year at RLL.


Tristan Vautier: Sam Schmidt Motorsports (Indy Lights) ---> Schmidt Peterson Racing (Indycar)

Trisan Vautier, who will be the only full time rookie in 2013, graduates Indy Lights with Sam Schmidt and joins Sam once again, but this time he's in Indycar. Vautier won the 2011 Star Mazda Championship and the 2012 Indy Lights Championship. Watch him to shock many people this year.


EJ Viso: KV Racing ---> Andretti Autosport / Team Venezuela / HVM

EJ Viso lands a ride at Andretti Autosport in the form of a satellite team in a conjoined effort between Andretti Autosport, HVM Racing, and the team he has started in Team Venezuela. Viso ran with KV
Racing the past three years.

E. J. Viso of Venezuela driver of the #5 Andretti Autosport Dallara Chevrolet during Day Two of IZOD IndyCar Series testing at Barber Motorsports Park on March 13, 2013 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Viso with Andretti Autosport at Spring Training (Photo: Robert Laberge)

Takuma Sato: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing ---> AJ Foyt Enterprises

The guy who was four turns away from winning the Indianapolis 500 joins the legendary AJ Foyt for the 2013 season. Sato had many good runs, but also many DNFs that overshadowed his season.


Sebastian Saavedra: Andretti Autosport (Lights + Indycar) ---> Dragon Racing

Sebastian Saavedra joins the full time Indycar ranks after running a part time schedule in the 2012 season with Andretti Autosport. In 2011, Sebastian ran full time with Conquest Racing, and ran the Indy 500 in 2010 with Bryan Herta Autosport.


AJ Allmendinger: Team Penske (NASCAR) ---> Team Penske (Indycar)

The offseason buzz was brought to you by AJ Allmendinger. AJ failed a drug test in 2012 while driving for Roger Penske in NASCAR, and his future was in doubt for racing in general. But now he is back in the series that made him famous.


James Jakes: Dale Coyne Racing ---> Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 

James switches teams following two years at Dale Coyne Racing. Despite not having much success, Jakes shows promise and has plenty of talent. Look for some success from Jakes this year at RLL.

James Jakes of England driver of the #16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara Honda during Day Two of IZOD IndyCar Series testing at Barber Motorsports Park on March 13, 2013 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Jakes looking slick in his new livery (Photo: Robert Laberge)

Ana Beatriz: Andretti Autosport ---> Dale Coyne Racing 

After coming a full time season in 2011, Ana entered 2012 without a full time ride. She signed a deal with Andretti Autosport to race part time. The only two races she participated in were Sao Paulo and Indianapolis. In those races, she finished 20th and 23rd respectively. Now she is once again signed a part time deal, but this time with Dale Coyne Racing. She will race on all ovals, plus Sao Paulo and St. Petersburg. This will be Ana's fourth year in Indycar.


Stefan Wilson: Fan Force United (Indy Lights) ---> Dale Coyne Racing 

After a year of racing only one race in Firestone Indy Lights, Stefan Wilson, brother of Indycar driver (and now teammate) Justin Wilson, makes the long overdue jump to Indycar. Despite finishing 3rd in the Indy Lights Championship in 2011, Stefan entered 2012 without a ride. He got one in the season finale with Fan Force United at Fontana, where he finished sixth. He comes in the season as a rookie, and he will be sharing the seat with Ana Beatriz, racing at the tracks where Ana won't be.


Mike Conway: AJ Foyt Enterprises ---> Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Mike Conway's full time days in Indycar are over following his coming out and saying he is done racing on ovals. That left many fans wondering what his future would look like. Many people thoughts were confirmed as Mike will run a part time schedule in 2013 for RLL. Long Beach is the only confirmed race, but expect the list to grow.


Carlos Munoz: Andretti Autosport (Lights) ---> Andretti Autosport (Indycar)

Carlos Munoz, driver for Andretti Autosport in the Indy Lights for 2012 and once again in 2013, will make his Indycar debut at the 2013 Indianapolis 500 driving for Andretti Autosport, who will have five cars fielded in the race.


Katherine Legge: Dragon Racing ---> ???

The offseason drama fest event was Katherine Legge getting fired by Dragon Racing owner Jay Penske. Katherine, who had little success in 2012, is suing Jay Penske for violating a contract, as Legge was signed on for 2013. Her racing plans in 2013 are clouded, with no clear picture as to who she'll be with.


Ryan Briscoe: Team Penske ---> ???

People who get upset at Legge not having a ride should be infurated with Ryan Briscoe not having a ride. Briscoe is a proven winner at Team Penske, who he had driven for since 2008. But without proper sponsors, Ryan has been left without a ride in 2013. Expect a part time schedule for him this season, which is a shame because he is definitely worthy of a full time ride in Indycar. ALMS, Le Mans, and V8 Supercars appear to be in his near future, but don't count him out of being in the Indy 500.

From Indy 500 pole winner to no ride at all (Photo: LAT Photographic)

Bring on St. Pete.

-Matthew Hickey

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