Wednesday, February 11, 2015

AWARD: And the 2013 nifSTAR winner is...

Continuing on with this languishing Awards ceremony, this year's candidates were chosen from the previous No Fenders story;

As the Driver Candidates included:
Tristan Nunez; USA, Mathew Brabham; USA, Chris Yano; USA, Zach Veach; USA, Robin Frijns; Netherlands, Esteban Guerrieri ; Argentina, Antonio Felix da Costa; Portugal, Carlos Munoz; Columbia and Conor Daly; USA.

As this award is done very NON-Scientifically, first of all, I think A-L-L of the Drivers should be awarded the prize, yet I'm supposed to narrow I-T down to one competitor, right?

that being said, my initial short-list consisted of five drivers, albeit with one already having won the 2012 award, i.e.; Tristan Nunez, I decided to drop  him from consideration. Although I suppose in future years it should be possible to have repeat winners, right?

That leaves me with just the following four Open Wheel Racing standouts to choose from, in  NO particular  order: Zach Veach, Esteban Guerrieri, Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly.

As how could Yuhs not like the affable Zachery Veach, who was growing before our  eyes, having just graduated to Indy Lights, the Mazda Road To Indy's final ladder step for perennial IndyCar powerhouse team Andretti Autosport.

Esteban Guerrieri was a personal favourite 'O mine, especially for his NON-PC Machine Gun victory dance celebrations, as sadly this Sam Schmidt driver's vanished from the IndyCar scene.

And while not originally Hip upon Carlos Munoz, his 'Mega rookie IndyCar drive grabbed my Attenzione, having since garnered the nickname Silk, for his Oh, So Smooth driving style and soft spoken manner. As the twenty-something Columbian rolled off from an astounding P2 in his debutant Indy 500 and B-I-G CARZ' outing, leading 12-laps en route to  an excellante runner-up finish behind 'TK Follow-your-Schnoz Kanaan, easily netting him (ROY) Rookie Of the Year honours at Mother Speedway...

thus, Y'all are probably way ahead here, eh? As that leaves just Conor Daly, who indeed is my 2013 nifSTAR trophy winner. As how can Yuhs  not like Conor's rags-to-riches drive up the proverbial ladder, albeit  Conor would be the first to quickly tell Yuhs he AIN'T rich!

As the lad from Noblesville, Indiana, who's dream is thee pinnacle 'O motorsport, nee Formula 1 has driven the wheels off a variety of single seater machinery in his quest to be America's next F1 talent.

While alas, with NO disrespect to Conor; Marussia  and (more importantly) Formula 1 manage to let the golden opportunity of Yank' Alexander Rossi not driving at last year's USGP in Austin, Texas slip by, which means Formula One's got nobody to blame but themselves from letting that marketing bonanza go untapped! Which seemingly underscores how little F1 treasures truly cracking the US marketplace wide open, and thus, how can a somewhat "Regular Joe" from Noblesville ever hope to compete?

But back to thy young Conor, who's a Go Kart champion, Skip Barber and Star Mazda champion and has chased his passion of Formula 1 ascendancy with multiple seasons spent racing in the sport's feeder series GP3 and GP2. As Daly's won in GP3 along with scoring points in GP2, having just contested the series season finale on Yas Island for Venezuela GP Lazarus, aka Team Lazarus.

In 2012, Conor got his dream of driving a Formula 1 chassis when he was drafted into service by Force India for a Straight-line 'Aero test before tackling the Indian MRF
series, which I believe he won? As I know he at least won a round of it at the then BYDD International Circuit, site of the 2011-13 Indian Grand  Prix's.

And whilst Conor  was ultimately outshone by his fellow rookie classmate Carlos Munoz at Mother Speedway, I'd say that the younger Daly had a more difficult time adapting to the DW12 at race speeds around the Brickyard, being the only rookie to crash in the build-up to qualifying I believe...

Conor's other Indy 500 rookie classmates included IndyCar's lone regular season rookie Tristan Turbo' Vautier, then the reigning Indy Lights champion finishing 16th.

As I've still got a Pair of his (somewhat) limited edition "CHEAP SUNGLASSES!" Adorning the kitchen's microwave; Hey! Y'all know that song 'bout the future's so bright I've gotz thus wear shades; YIKES!

While the final member of the year's rookie quartet was A.J. Allmendinger, making an impressive Open Wheel return for 'El Capitano, nee Roger Penske who was helping him rebuild his racing career, with the 'Dinger finishing an impressive seventh after leading several laps.

As this was my sentimental favourite, albeit thee 'Dinger's gone back to "Taxi-cab" racing instead, having won his first Sprint Cup race  at Watkins Glen last year, en route to making 'Duh Chase before I spotted him clouting' the Homestead wall twice during the season finale in his pursuit of finishing tenth overall in the 2014 Sprint Cup standings.

Conor, who seemingly had the least "Seat Time" in a Dallara DW12, drove for the storied Indy Car Series owner A.J. Foyt  in his second Indy 500 entry, the No. 41 ABC Supply car, for  which the Hoosier put into the show in P31, and  finished a very respectable P22, albeit 2-laps down before returning to Europe to contest another season of GP2, this time  for the aforementioned Team Lazarus.

Hence, as Conor's already alluded to, do to his not having the requisite $12-15m (Euro) retainer to buy a  seat in F1; if one even becomes available this year? Then it'd be great to see Honda help the gutsy American driver give the Chevy runners somebody to worry  'bout in Indy Cars in 2015! Can Y'all say Schmidt Peterson Motorsport's second seat? Like C'mon guys, hire Conor already!

For last year's nifSTAR winner, see; AWARD: No Fenders relaunches its NIFSTAR Trophy...

2013: Conor Daly
2012: Tristan Nunez
2007: Marcus Wilkinson