Handicapping The Rookies: Greenhorns Galore, Part 2

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Previewing the 2018 IndyCar season from the perspective of those nine drivers with a combined experience of the average couch sitting race fan. Tellingly, the mean age of our final five rookies is a ripe 24.8 years old.

This slate of newbies enjoys slightly more experience than those covered in part 1 and also have the distinct advantage of landing with established teams – in a couple cases, even decent ones. Just not in our first instance . . .

AJ Foyt Racing‘s Matheus Leist – only 19 – hails from Brazil like his curmudgeonly, over the hill teammate. His initial IndyCar foray at the Phoenix test wasn’t fortuitous. Leist brushed the wall at least three separate times, and possibly more. On a less expensive note, Matt did manage three wins last year in Indy Lights, including the Freedom 100 at IMS. That’s no doubt a major reason he’s driving for A.J. Matt also scored an impressive nine top fives and two poles in his sole Lights season. Why the 43 year old TK landed A.J.’s other seat is totally inexplicable.

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Zach Veach will have the benefit of top notch equipment driving for Andretti Autosport, if not the most sensible boss. The baby faced 23 year old Ohioan already had two big league starts in 2017, with a best finish of 19th at Barber for ECR (as a stand in for the injured and now unemployed J.R. Hildebrand). Also, he finished 26th in the 101st Indy 500 for AJ Foyt Racing. Zach’s the author of a book for teens and apparently a good friend of Oprah, so watch out.

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Yet another Canuck – just what the series needs – Robert Wickens joins SPM‘s all Canadian curling club. Old for a driver – much less a rookie – the soon to be 29 year old has zero Road to Indy ladder experience and a single IndyCar practice session under his belt (at Road America last year while Mikhail Aleshin‘s visa issues were being sorted out). He raced exclusively in Europe prior to that, failing to stand out but nevertheless taking the Russian’s coveted former seat this season. Insert Russkie Twitter bot joke here – #NotMyDriver.

Just turned 24 year old Englishman Jordan King debuts in ECR’s 20 car on the too numerous road courses while his boss handles the too few ovals. Lacking any Indy or Road to Indy experience whatsoever, King dabbled in F1, appearing in a solitary practice session for Manor Racing before the USGP in 2016. Like Wickens and others, he’s as green as the new cannabis stores popping up all over California.

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Another Englishman, Stefan Wilson, allegedly has a ride with AA at Indy. In his infinite wisdom, Michael robbed the late Justin Wilson‘s brother of a promised shot last year, opting for Alonso and his mania instead. We’ll see if he can better Alo’s 24th place finish. Long in the tooth, Stef turns 29 this year and owns a 16th place finish at now defunct Baltimore and a 28th place payday in the 100th Indy 500 – for the similarly defunct KVSH Racing. He has vast two-seater experience at IMS though, even giving IRR’s Editor in Chief several fast laps around the Brickyard one hot, hung-over day. The nausea inducing revolutions, approaching 200 mph, were utterly terrifying.

That’s the complete list of this year’s IndyCar rookies, so far at least. It’s exhaustive – and exhausting.

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