Rookie Alexander Rossi joyously taking his victory lap after his improvable victory in this year's Magnanimous 100th running of the Indy 500. (The Tomaso Collection)
As typical, Thy OLD-est IndyCar Blogger Geo. Phillips beat me to the punch once again, as I began ponderin' this story during the season's first Oval-track race at Phoenix International Raceway 'Wayback in April; H-U-H? Where'd over half of the IndyCar season go, eh? Not to mention the year; CRIKEYS!
And while I've been a Huge Fan 'O Will Power and Simon Pagenaud for several years now, along with liking James Hinchcliffe and Josef Newgarden, with Graham Rahal sorta growing on me, albeit he still runs hot 'N cold depending on his attitude during race weekends, as I grow ever tired of his grousing 'bout how woeful the Honders' (Honda) are...
Meanwhile I've become quite a fan of whom 'Ol 'R, aka Robin Miller likes calling The Mad Russian, aka Mikhail Aleshin, whilst Taku-san's *Takuma Sato) always an enjoyable interview, not to mention Yuhs know he's always going for I-T! Since after all his motto is;
"NO ATTACK, NO CHANCE!"
As I'll never forget Taku-san's response to a furious DC, nee David Coulthard telling the Japanese "Super Best Friends" Formula 1 driver I'd never pass anybody there. To which Sato presumably smiled wryly whilst saying I Know that!
Nonetheless, I find this year's Rookie Of the Year (ROY) battle most intriguing, since it features two ex-Formula 1 drivers who both raced for proverbial Tail-end Charlie Marussia F1, with a third IndyCar rookie having been hopeful of graduating to the pinnacle 'O motorsports from his GP2 perch. And lastly, the reigning Indy Lights driver who looked set to only run three races this season initially.
as I'll go out on a limb by proclaiming this is the strongest rookie class in years that I can recall...
(Point Standings following Round 11 at Toronto. Ranking in parenthesis = Overall Driver's point standings)
DOB: 9/25/91 (Age: 24)
Team: Andretti Herta Autosport
Car No. 98
Points: 300 (7th)
This somewhat laid-back Californian driver will freely admit his heart's still in Formula 1, where although he got to contest five races last year, he's probably still bitter about being knocked out by Indonesia for the final seat on the F1 grid this season.
Nonetheless, what can I really say regarding his improvable victory at Mother Speedway, other than I got to experience I-T LIVE!
And although Rossi doesn't necessarily light me up personality-wise, nonetheless, he was overly polite to a wandering Blind Word Butcher in Austin, Texas when still serving as a "Simulator Jockey," nee F1 reserve driver in 2014. As Alexander just epitomizes the classic laid back Californian cool.
While I've tried pointing out that even if Rossi does decide to jettison Indy Cars in favour of returning to Formula 1, which after all is his right to do so. His departure cannot hurt IndyCar because wherever he goes, he'll be known as the defending Indy 500 winner!
And even though one-third of Rossi's very impressive points tally to date comes courtesy of the Double-points awarded at Indianapolis, objectively you'd have to say he's probably the most talented driver of this quartet?
After all, not only has he managed to contest five Grands Prix, which for an American driver is a tall order these days, but is also the highest ever Yank' finisher in GP2, the proverbial Bridesmaid to thee Pinnacle 'O Motor Racing, nee Formula 1, finishing a very respectable runner-up to runaway 2015 GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren Honda F1's reserve driver patiently waiting to graduate to the B-I-G' SHOW. While Rossi finished second overall with three wins in the F1 support series.
DOB: 12/15/91 (Age: 24)
Team: Dale Coyne Racing
Car No. 18
Points: 211 (18th*)
Personally, this is the driver I'd like to see win the ROY battle this year, but not sure how realistic that is? As Daly's quickly become my new Numero Uno IndyCar driver this year due to his bravado, tenaciousness and Down-home humility, seeming to always truly marvel at what he's doing, i.e.; driving a Bad Fast Racecar!
And even more impressively, he's thriving at the Minnowesqe Dale Coyne outfit, whom aren't known for being flush with cash! As Daly's pointed out the lack of resources more than once, but he and veteran engineer Michael Cannon and the whole DCR crew just get on with the job!
As I cannot recall ever hearing him publicly moan 'bout the Honda's lack 'O power like some other Front-runner Wankers on about ceasessly...
Conor really shot to prominence by leading Team Penske's Helio Castroneves who he overtook on a restart during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis's road race at Mother Speedway this May en route to a sixth place finish, which he's replicated at Belle Isle, where he also scored his first ever podium with a runner-up finish.
then again, suppose it's easy to see why I've become so fond of the "Aw Shucks, Gee Whiz" Kid from Noblesville, IN - who I originally tabbed in 2013 as that year's nifSTAR winner.
Although cannot remember exactly now, as think it was at Road America? But some wheres' on the IndyCar trail, Conor had what I immediately thought of as a Mathew Hasselbach moment. Y'all recall when the Seahawks QB proclaimed on the road at Green Bay upon winning the overtime coin toss: "We want the ball and we're gonna Win!" SPLAT! Which Daly seemed to proclaim an impromptu victory likewise in a Robin Miller grid saunter interview Me Thinks...
DOB: 4/21/91 (Age: 25)
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Car No. 8
Points: 173 (19th)
Cannot say I've ever been impressed by the young Briton ex-Formula 1 Pilote, who's latest claim to fame is winning his debutant Oval race in Indy Lights at Iowa a year ago.
But perhaps this unexpected Oval prowess is why his best IndyCar finish to date of seventh was recorded at Phoenix, his only Top-10 finish of the season prior to Mid-Ohio.
Yet with the might of Chip Ganassi Racing, arguably one of the two best teams in Indy Cars behind him, you'd probably expect Chilton to be leading the ROY battle instead of P3! And possibly would be in last place if Spencer Pigot had gotten a Full Meal Dealio this year.
DOB: 9/29/93 (Age: 22)
Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Car No. 20
Points: 108 (21st)
Really happy that team owner FAST EDDIE' had the Stones to sign-up the reigning Indy Lights champion to run the bulk of the remaining road courses and temporary street circuits after his somewhat disjointed three race stint at RLLR.
Although it seems like you don't hear the Californian's name bandied about too much, nonetheless he's a multi-series champion and seems to be getting better each time out for ECR, and quietly becoming another driver I like...
Yet obviously that doesn't mean ditto, as I just hope he doesn't get the Gabby Chaves treatment of "One 'N Done," a la the Columbian losing his ride at Bryan Herta Autosports; Y'all know, the No. 98 car that some Cat named Rossi's now driving...
(Photo Courtesy of No Fenders ‘Offical Photographer ‘CARPETS)