As what’s NXT? Gene Simmons singing “I am Indy” Justin-time’ for Ye Holidays, Fa la la la lah…
First off, I’ll admit I scribbled this a
Fortnight before this year’s Turkey Lurkey Day. As I’m not sure what it was
exactly that knocked Ye Wind outta My Sails? That it was the Dreaded Offseason
when everybody makes Pigskin analogies. The Outright Ho Humm Boring nature of
The Max Show in formula 1, or the vauted Braintrust’s at Penske Entertainment
decided to Obliterate their storied Indy Lights Championship?
Although I’m guessing the latter Had much to do
with my lethargic feeling, since I believe it was Racer’s Marshall Pruett whom
so succinctly noted this Snazzy Name change was akin to somebody Pooping in the
And as I’ve said before, I totally realize that
winning the Indy Lights Championship shouldn’t be an Automatic Graduation to
the Big Leagues, ergo IndyCar. Yet after all, that is the point to the vaunted
Road to Indy ladder system, El Correctomundo?
Thus perusing this year’s IndyCar Grid, I’ve
come up with a total of four former Indy Lights Champions currently racing. With
Scott Dixon being the Oldest! Along with Josef Newgarden, Pato O’Ward and Kyle
As Scotty Thee Iceman 2.0’ Dixon being an anomaly,
having won the title in 2000, and being tied with Helio Castroneves for currently
longest tenure Fulltime IndyCar Drivers, both beginning in Gory 2001, Aye
Newgarden won the 2011 title for Sam Schmidt
Motorsports. While O’Ward and Kirkwood won the Championship both driving for
Andretti Autosport in 2018 and 2021 respectively.
Although I suppose it’s not so different on the
opposite side of Ye Puddle, EH? Since over the past decade, Thars just four FIA
Formula 2/GP2 Series Champions on this year’s Formula 1 Grid.
As the most current is Mick Schumacher, the
2020 FIA F2 Champion, albeit the German is expected to lose His Haas F1 ride at
season’s end, and probably be out of F1 completely.
Schumacher “Junior’s” followed by Mercedes GP 2018
F2 Champion George Russell. With Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc being the inaugural
F2 Champion in 2017. While finally, Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was the final
GP2 Series Champion in 2016.
Yet if we factor in Lewis Hamilton, who’s another
anomaly’, being the 2006 GP2 Champion, the current Formula 1 Grid “Swells” to a
Quarter of the Grid being former F2/GP2 champions…
Yet interestingly, Nyck de Vries, who’ll
finally make His F1 Season Debut next year as Gasly’s replacement at
AlphaTauri, Had to wait four years to graduate to the Pinnicle of Motorsports,
i.e.; Formula 1! As the 2019 F2 Champion instead went directly to formula E due
to Thar being No openings on the F1 Grid.
And then there’s the plight of 2021 F2 Champion
Oscar Piastri. Y’all know the Aussie’ whom successfully landed a seat at Messer
Zakery Brown’s Roundtable. Aftert rival Alpine thought they’d done enough to
keep Him as Frederico Suave’s replacement next year. As it’s become somewhat de
riggour for the reigning Formula 2 champion to sit on the Sidelines for a year,
As lastly, this year’s F2 titlist, Brazilian Felipe
Drugovich has already signed to be Aston Martin’s F1 Test and Reserve Driver.
Apparently “Banking” on Fireworks to erupt between Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll
In the past Decade, a total of six GP2/F2
Champions have graduated to Formula 1, with the aforementioned above, minus Sir
Lewis. (Hamilton) With 2014 and 2015 GP2 titlists Jolyon Palmer and Stoffel
Vandoorne joining this very select group.
Although Jolyon, son of Jonathan Palmer spent 2015
as the Lotus F1 Test and Reserve Driver before racing for le Reggie’, aka
Renault between 2016-17. Whilst Vandoorne graduated directly to F1, driving for
McLaren from 2016-18.
Yet Indy Lights has a Higher success rate of 89%
vs. Formula One’s feeder Series 60% Graduation Rate. As every Lights Champion,
with the exception of this year’s Champion Linus Lundqvist Has ultimately raced
in Indy Cars, albeit Not All of them landed Full Season rides.
Beginning with the 2012 Lights Champion Tristan
Turbo’ Vautier, followed by Sage Karam, Gaby chaves, Spenser Pigot, Ed Jones,
Kyle Kiser, Pato O’Ward, Oliver Askew and Kyle Kirkwood. With NO 2020 Lights
Season due to COVID-19.
As All of the Lights Champions got an
Advancement Prize commiserate of three guaranteed drives in IndyCar, including
the most cherished Indianapolis 500! Meaning that Lundqvist is simply getting
Screwed! And that Roger Penske’s next move should be re-establishing this prize
if He’s truly trying to promote the Next Generation of IndyCar Drivers!
As I suppose it just really boils down to that
I, like almost everybody? As I’d say it’s pretty universal that the new Indy
Lights Moniker STINKS! Can You Hear Me Now Roger?
guessing that El Capitano’ and Penske Entertainment are pretty Happy Having Jim
Irsay’s Holiday Bon Fire to roast All of His Indianapolis Colts members right
While the Formula 1 ladder system is now Far more easier to understand, i.e.; F4-F3-F2-F1, and definitely more palatable!
Picture Courtesy of Blogmeister’ Miguel
The wonderful, large picture Hanging on Display at the Penske Racing Museum of Roger Penske Joyously Spraying Champagne! Following Gil de Ferran scoring The Captain’s 100th IndyCar victory at Nazareth Speedway on May 27, 2000. (The Tomaso Collection)