Photo from freep.com
IndyCar finds itself in the midst of change not seen in a decade – welcome change, at that.
The 2018 season excitingly ushers in new cars, a multitude of rookie drivers and even several fledgling teams. There’s a first time reigning champ and let’s not forget new sponsors, either. Lots of ’em – on Graham Rahal’s car alone. Heck, there’s even sort of a new track on the schedule. That is, if you possess little memory and consider Portland a track in the first place.
Photo from indycar.com
Easily the most striking of all the upgrades is the car itself, a real beauty to behold – especially compared to what fans have been subjected to the last three seasons. Not only will the aesthetics be improved, but also throw in the cliché about the playing field being leveled. At least as level as it can be with The Cap’n‘s billion dollar bank account.
It’s not just old cars and parts being jettisoned, either. The turnover in full time rides since last year is astounding, amounting to a third of the field. Gone are Aleshin, Daly, Helio, Munoz and Hildebrand; hair today, gone tomorrow.
Photo from edcarpenterracing.com
The straightaway length list of rookies includes Matt Leist, Kyle Kaiser, Rene Binder, Robert Wickens, Zach Veach, Zach DeMelo, Jordan King and even a Fittipaldi, for goodness’ sake. It’s the largest rookie class since forever. Erstwhile two-seater driver Stefan Wilson, brother of the late Justin Wilson, is expected to compete at Indy too, unless Michael Andretti pulls the rug from under him again this year.
Juncos and Carlin are the upstart teams and Harding’s newly full time. Michael Shank’s partnering with SPM for several races in that hideous pink car of Jack Harvey, while in a surprise return to the series prodigal Jimmy Vasser joins Dale Coyne, of all people. We never said all change was good, or even makes sense.
The sheer scale of upheaval throughout the paddock is almost bewildering. On a less unnerving note, some things apparently won’t change. Namely, Mark Miles’ bitter bias against ovals. And Danica and Marco disappointing their fans.
The new season holds promise and anticipation unlike that of any since reunification a decade ago. Reportedly, 500 ticket sales are strong and testing of the new equipment has been encouraging. The transformation IndyCar is undergoing at present is intensely exciting. Let’s just hope they don’t screw it up.