As it's a Far Cry from the Days when winning the
Lights title ensured Yuhs a Championship Bonus to run an entire IndyCar season,
a la Simon Pagenaud...
Whilst Marcus Miles struts round with his
Chest Proudly Puffed Out, as Everythingys' GURR-REAT! In Indy Cars... Cock A
Doo-little-Du', I just Sold Out the Series to those Fine Folks at comca$t
It's fairly Sad noting that the Sanctioning
Body's Top Feeder Series past three Champions are All struggling to find
Fulltime rides in IndyCar.
As only 2016 Indy Lights Champion Ed Jones
has a "Secure" ride at the moment, albeit just running the Road
Courses & Street Circuits as a Twisties' Only Specialist for Ed Carpenter
While the verdict's still out upon how many
races 2017 Champ' Kyle Kiser will run for the Minnowesqe Juncos Racing squad
this season? And we All know the torments 'O reigning Lights Champion Pato
O'Ward's current plight, having lost his Drive at Harding Steinbrenner Racing
just a month before the season commences.
As this set my Mind Ah-Wonderin' once again,
just how many past Lights Champions remain in Indy Cars with a Fulltime Drive
from the past decade? For which I'm somewhat chagrinned to learn the answer is
a paltry two! Or just 20%, albeit this number increases to four with the
inclusion 'O Jones and Kiser from above, albeit still just 40%. And Thar Not
running Full seasons...
Although it was thee OLD-est IndyCar blogger
Geo. Phillips; Hya! Of Oilpressure Fame who first alerted Mwah to the Factoid
that O'Ward had very unwisely foregone a partial season's eight race Dealio
with Mikey A'.
Which George rightly mused. A part time ride
with Andretti Autosport would be vastly superior to what was left on the
marketplace. Noting how Rocket Rick' Mears partial season ride with El
Capitano', nee Roger Penske worked out pretty decently in the long run, Righto?
In the five years between thoust nebulous
Bookend years, prior to the 2019 season, only a total of 10 former Lights
racers have graduated to the Big Leagues', aka Indy Cars, albeit last year's
Rookie crop was not a typical reflection of Lights Graduates, being only Outdone
by 2011's Indy Cars Rookie Class of nine Lights Drivers moving forward.
thou 2011 IndyCar Rookie Class mostly since I know that's when thee Mayor 'O
Hinchtown', aka James Hinchcliffe first put on his "big boy Pants"
and joined Newman Haas Lanagin Racing...
As the following ten Indy Lights Drivers
graduated to the B-I-G CARZ' Ranks circa 2012-2017: Josef Newgarden, (2012) Tristan
Vautier, (2013) Jack Hawksworth, (2014) Gabby Chaves,
(2015) Sage Karam, (2015) Mathew Brabham, (2016) Max Chiltin, (2016) Conor
Daly, (2016) Spenser Pigot (2016) and Ed Jones. (2017)
Then adding last year's 2018 Rookie
Crop of Zachary Claman DeMelo, Jack Harvey, Colton Herta, (2018 Finale) Kyle Kiser, Matheus Leist, Patricio O'Ward (2018 Finale) and Zach Veach. The total Balloons
to 17 Lights graduates.
Although I'm pretty certain that both Colton Herta
and Patricio O'Ward would be classified as Rookies this year instead...
Whilst further including Hinch's
stellar 2011 class into thou mix, i.e.; Dillon
Battistini, Ana Beatriz, Wade Cunningham, J.R.
Hildebrand, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Pippa Mann, Martin Plowman and Sebastian
We're left with a total of 26 Indy Lights
Graduates to Indy Cars, enough to make up the entire Grid in 2019! Although of
these 26 Drivers, only 11 remain on Indy Cars current season roster, excluding
One-Off appearances at Mother Speedway. Which by my very quick Ryth-Muh-tickin'
is less than 50%!
And although Simon Pagenaud, the
2016 IndyCar Series Champion indeed is part of that Mega' 2011 Rookie Class,
I've not included him since he's a Graduate of the long Defunct Yokohama
Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda rival Feeder
Series instead, which he won in 2006.
As Y'all try
sayin' that Champ Car Atlantic title really Fast Five Times, Eh?
So, with longtime Indy Lights
Financial Backer Mazda now Gone, is the glass, or Shoei' half empty or half
full? Although Anderson Promotions is still enticing participants with the Road
to Indy Scholarship prize. Which has seen Thar competitor with the longest name
emblazoned on his Overalls, ZCD of Footwear Fame, aka Zachary
Claman DeMelo returning to another campaign this
season for Belardi Auto Racing, in order to hopefully run in the 104th
Indianapolis 500, in an All Expenses Paid ride.
But then again,
becoming Lights Champion doesn't seem to do much for promising a long term
career in Indy Cars...
Indy Lights Champions
2008) Rafael Matos,
Brazil; AGR-AFS Racing
2009) J. R.
Hildebrand, USA; AGR-AFS Racing
2010) Jean Karl
Vernay, France; Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Newgarden, USA; Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Vautier, France; Sam Schmidt Motorsports
2013) Sage Karam,
USA; Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
2014) Gabby Chaves,
Columbia; Belardi Auto Racing
2015) Spencer Pigot,
USA; Juncos Racing
2016) Ed Jones, UAE;
2017) Kyle Kiser,
USA; Juncos Racing
O'Ward, Mexico; Andretti autosport