2013 INDYCAR SERIES
race by race
Aside from a
couple of inevitable
through on race
days, headed up
by 10 victories. In
wasn’t a single
event where Chevy
failed to put a car
in the top three.
2013 INDycar by THe NUMberS
* Grid for Houston 2 set by entrant points; Castroneves started P1.
*Also started P1 for Houston 2.
eNgINe MaNUfac TUrer
IndyCar regs kept the
battle close, but in the end
Chevrolet’s power and
reliability prevailed for a
second consecutive year.
cHevy wINS aND poleS
In terms of both race
and qualifying honors,
Chevrolet’s success was
distributed between three
teams and five drivers.
“No, you don’t ever feel confident
heading into the first race of a season,”
says James Hinchcliffe, recalling the
scene of his first IndyCar victory. “You
think you’ve done everything possible,
but you’re just waiting for another team
to prove that you haven’t!”
Lining up a stout fourth, behind Will
Power, Takuma Sato and Simona De
Silvestro, the Canadian was in the hunt
from the green flag. Andretti Autosport
got their man out of the pits ahead of
Power so that Hinch was alongside Helio
Castroneves for the double-file restart.
Braking a nanosecond too late, Helio
opened the door for James, who charged
through it. Then, the hard work began.
“Honestly, I felt Penske were faster at
that race, so knowing that kept the
pressure on me,” says Hinchcliffe. “If
Helio had passed me on pure pace, I’d
still have been able to sleep at night. But
what I would not let myself do was make
a mistake and just hand the lead to him.
So I focused on staying just that bit too
far out of range of an attack and then
not making any serious errors.
“I’d gone into the year determined to
make this the season when I scored my
first win. To do it at Round 1, with Canada
having just gotten a new IndyCar TV
package, that just made it even better.”
As they headed into the 2012-’ 13
off-season, newly-crowned IndyCar
champ Ryan Hunter-Reay and his
race engineer at Andretti Autosport,
Ray Gosselin, set their sights on
strengthening what they felt were their
weak points, namely, superspeedways
and natural road courses.
The performance of the No. 1/28
car at Barber Motorsports Park
confirmed they’d at least nailed the
latter. Taking pole by a quarter of a
second and needing just two laps to
do it was a psychological punch to
Hunter-Reay’s rivals – although, several
months later, Ryan admits the flying lap
had a touch of “hero or zero” about it.
“Yeah, there was one particular
sector where I tried something and…
let’s say, it could have gone either way!
But, hey, it was the car’s strong
setup that gave me the confidence
to try it, so it’s clear we’d made big
progress on road courses compared
with previous years.
“In the race, that confidence
carried through, and the car felt
strong throughout. Scott Dixon is
always strong there and he really
charged after us in the final laps, but
we had enough in hand. That win
was a real boost for us.”
James Hinchcliffe led just 400 yards of the Sao Paulo 300, but they
were the most important ones as he snatched the lead in the final
turn of the final lap. It was IndyCar racing at its most spectacular.
“The big lesson from that race was that these things are never
over until the checkered flag,” says Hinchcliffe. “In the early
stages I was in the top 10, but then, when I pitted, I slid into my
pit box and lost a bunch of track time and ended up in 22nd.”
With judicious use of his Chevy’s push-to-pass boost,
however, Hinch started working the No. 27 car up toward the
leading Honda pair of Takuma Sato and Josef Newgarden.
“If they hadn’t been battling, I don’t think I’d have caught
them,” admits Hinch, “but Sato was defending hard, which
slowed him up and used his tires. I also saw what he did to Josef
when he squeezed him on the run down to the final hairpin, so I
knew what I’d be facing once I got into second. Sure enough,
Takuma gave me the squeeze twice, but on that last lap, I just
stayed with him and hoped he’d brake that little bit too deep on
his older tires. That’s what he did, and I went deep too, down
the inside, and hung him out to dry on the exit, which seemed
fair enough given what he’d already done to Josef and me!
“In hindsight, this was a very significant victory for Chevrolet,
too: if our car hadn’t won, the title would have gone to Honda…”