Another major racing series gets underway this weekend, as the IZOD IndyCar Series and its supporting series hit the 1.8-mile temporary road course in St. Petersburg, Florida for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 24th. Last season’s finale saw Ryan Hunter-Reay edge Will Power for the title, marking the third straight season Power was runner-up in points. Who are the drivers to watch in 2013? Here are five that should make an impact.
- Ryan Hunter-Reay – last year’s champ was the first U.S.-born driver to win the IndyCar Series championship since Sam Hornish Jr. won in 2006. He’s back with Andretti Autosport through the 2014 season, and kick-started his 2013 season with a second-place overall finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Going into the 2012 season, RHR had three wins on his IndyCar resume – in 2012, he bumped that up to seven, including three straight wins at Milwaukee, Iowa and the streets of Toronto. He’s a versatile driver that can win on ovals and street courses, and that’s what’s needed to win a title these days.
- Graham Rahal – the 24-year-old son of Indy 500 champ Bobby Rahal is finally racing for his father full-time, and that could be a good thing for his career. In 2008 he became the youngest person to win a major American open-wheel race, to date his only IndyCar Series victory.
- Dario Franchitti – he has four IndyCar Series titles, but 2012’s seventh-place finish in points marked his worst season since 2006. Add to that the off-season news that he and Ashley Judd were separating, and one may wonder how Franchitti will come out in the 2013 season.
- A.J. Allmendinger – currently only scheduled for two races, the ChampCar-turned-NASCAR driver will return to his open-wheel roots for Penske Racing in the races at Barber Motorsports Park and Indianapolis.
- James Hinchcliffe – the “GoDaddy Guy” is back with Andretti Autosport for 2013 and looking to improve on his impressive sixth-place finish at Indy and his eighth-place finish in points, which included eight top 10s in 15 races.
Catch the IZOD IndyCar Series on NBC Sports Network this season, beginning Sunday, March 24th with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Get more information on the race and the series at www.indycar.com.
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