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2014 Standings
After Pocono
Driver Standings

1 Will Power 446
2 Helio Castroneves 446
3 Simon Pagenaud 402
4 Juan Pablo Montoya 391
5 Ryan Hunter-Reay 388
6 Carlos Munoz (R) 340
7 Marco Andretti 325
8 Scott Dixon 297
9 Ryan Briscoe 285
10 Sebastien Bourdais 271
11 Tony Kanaan 267
12 James Hinchcliffe 266
13 Mikhail Aleshin 263
14 Justin Wilson 253
15 Charlie Kimball 239
16 Jack Hawksworth 227
17 Carlos Huertas (R) 224
18 Josef Newgarden 220
19 Graham Rahal 202
20 Sebastian Saavedra 196
21 Takuma Sato 189
22 Mike Conway 152
23 Ed Carpenter 138
24 Oriol Servia 88
25 Kurt Busch (R) 80
26 JR Hildebrand 66
27 Sage Karam (R) 57
28 James Davison (R) 34
29 Jacques Villeneuve 29
30 Alex Tagliani 28
31 Luca Filippi 24
32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman (R) 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8

Rookie of the Year
1 Carlos Munoz 340
2 Mikhail Aleshin 263
3 Jack Hawksworth 217
4 Carlos Huertas 204
5 Kurt Busch 80
6 Sage Karam 57
7 James Davison 34
8 Martin Plowman 18

Wins
T1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 2
T1 Will Power 2
T1 Simon Pagenaud 2
T4 Mike Conway 1
T4 Helio Castroneves 1
T4 Carlos Huertas 1
T4 Ed Carpenter 1
T4 Juan Pablo Montoya 1

Podium Finishes
T1 Will Power 5
T1 Helio Castroneves 5
2 Ryan Hunter-Reay 4
T3 Carlos Munoz 3
T3 Juan Pablo Montoya 3
T6 Marco Andretti 2
T6 Simon Pagenaud 2
T8 Mike Conway 1
T8 Carlos Huertas 1
T8 Scott Dixon 1
T8 Tony Kanaan 1
T8 Graham Rahal 1
T8 Charlie Kimball 1
T8 Ed Carpenter 1
T8 Jack Hawksworth 1
T8 Mikhail Aleshin 1

Lap Leaders:
1 Will Power 348
2 Helio Castroneves 174
3 Ryan Hunter-Reay 165
4 Ed Carpenter 116
5 Tony Kanaan 79
6 Juan Pablo Montoya 74
7 Takuma Sato 67
8 James Hinchcliffe 56
9 Simon Pagenaud 53
10 Jack Hawksworth 32
11 Scott Dixon 27
12 Marco Andretti 22
13 Justin Wilson 20
14 Sebastian Saavedra 14
15 Graham Rahal 10
16 Mike Conway 8
17 Josef Newgarden 8
T18 Oriol Servia 7
T18 Carlos Huertas 7
19 Ryan Briscoe 5
20 Mikhail Aleshin 4
21 Alex Tagliani 3
22 Sebastien Bourdais 2

Entrant Points
Pos. # Entrant Points
1 12 Team Penske 446
2 3 Team Penske 446
3 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports 402
4 2 Team Penske 391
5 28 Andretti Autosport 388
6 34 Andretti Autosport/HVM 340
7 25 Andretti Autosport 325
8 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing 297
9 20 Ed Carpenter Racing 290
10 8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing 285
11 11 KVSH Racing 271
12 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing 267
13 27 Andretti Autosport 266
14 7 SMP Racing 263
15 19 Dale Coyne Racing 253
16 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing 239
17 98 BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian 227
18 18 Dale Coyne Racing 224
19 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing 220
20 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 202
21 17 KV/AFS Racing 196
22 14 A.J. Foyt Racing 189
23 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 112
24 26 Andretti Autosport 88
25 21 Ed Carpenter Racing 66
26 22 Dreyer and Reinbold 57
27 33 KV Racing Technology 34
28 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 29
29 68 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing 28
30 6 KV Racing Technology 22
31 63 Dale Coyne Racing 21
32 41 A.J. Foyt Racing 18
33 91 Lazier Partners Racing 11

Finishing Average
1 Helio Castroneves 5.81
2 Kurt Busch 6.00
3 Will Power 6.09
4 Simon Pagenaud 6.72
5 Sage Karam 9.00
6 J.R. Hildebrand 10.00
T7 Scott Dixon 10.18
T7 Carlos Munoz 10.18
9 Juan Pablo Montoya 10.45
10 Ryan Hunter-Reay 10.72
11 Ryan Briscoe 11.75
12 Marco Andretti 12.125
13 Carlos Munoz 12.375
T14 Oriol Servia 12.5
T14 Justin Wilson 12.5
16 Alex Tagliani 13.0
17 Sebastien Bourdais 13.25
18 Charlie Kimball 13.625
19 Mike Conway 13.66
T20 Jacques Villeneuve 14.0
T20 Ed Carpenter 14.0
22 Carlos Huertas 14.25
23 Mikhail Aleshin 14.875
24 James Hinchcliffe 15.125
T25 Takuma Sato 15.5
T25 Jack Hawksworth 15.5
27 Sebastian Saavedra 15.75
28 James Davison 16.00
29 Josef Newgarden 16.375
30 Graham Rahal 16.625
31 Martin Plowman 20.5
32 Franck Montagny 22.0
33 Pippa Mann 24.0
34 Townsend Bell 25.0
35 Buddy Lazier 32.0

Pole Positions
T1 Takuma Sato 2
T1 Will Power 2
T1 Helio Castroneves 2
T4 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1
T4 Sebastian Saavedra 1
T4 Ed Carpenter 1
T4 Simon Pagenaud 1
T4 Juan Pablo Montoya 1

Appearances in the Firestone Fast Six
1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 4
T2 Scott Dixon 3
T2 Will Power 3
T2 James Hinchcliffe 3
T2 Helio Castroneves 3
T2 Jack Hawksworth 3
T7 Simon Pagenaud 2
T7 Josef Newgarden 2
T9 Takuma Sato 1
T9 Marco Andretti 1
T9 Sebastien Bourdais 1
T9 Tony Kanaan 1
T9 Sebastian Saavedra 1
T9 Mike Conway 1
T9 Juan Pablo Montoya 1
T9 Ryan Briscoe 1
Who could possibly replace Dario Franchitti

by Brian Carroccio
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

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Dario Franchitti
In the coming days, AutoRacing1.com will be putting the impressive career of recently retired IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti into historical perspective. Franchitti, of course, suffered multiple injuries in a wicked accident last month on the final lap of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. While many believed Franchitti would do the necessary rehabilitation to his broken back and return in time for next year’s IndyCar opener, apparently the lingering effects of the concussion he also suffered caused greater concern.

Thus, the career of Dario Franchitti came to an abrupt end last week with 31 race wins, 3 Indianapolis 500 victories, and four series championships. And when it comes to the all-time greats of the sport, Franchitti is undoubtedly in the discussion, something AR1 will soon explore.

For now, Franchitti’s sudden retirement has created a rare opening for one of the sport’s iconic cars. Exactly who fill Franchitti’s seat in the #10 Target machine, following in the footsteps of Vasser, Zanardi, Montoya, Dixon, Wheldon, and now Franchitti, is the source of great speculation.

Of course, there is a strong possibility Team Ganassi may shift recently-signed Tony Kanaan to the #10 Target machine, and pursue another driver to fill Kanaan's seat in the #8 NTT Data machine. So, as a general rule, this article will not focus so much on who will be in the #10, rather who will fill the vacant spot at Team Ganassi.

And Team Ganassi is keeping its cards pretty close to the vest. Also, the situation is further muddled by the fact there is no real precedent, if you will, and no obvious candidate. The only real definitive information coming out of the Ganassi camp was that the team does not want to break in a youngster without top-level experience. What that means essentially is we will not be seeing a young upstart like Conor Daly, of whom I've made my opinion known, or Alexander Rossi.

So, what will Ganassi do? Will he look to buyout a proven talent such as James Hinchcliffe or Sebastien Bourdais? Will he look to one the many established, professional veteran drivers looking for work that would come very cheap. While we don’t know what The Chipster will ultimately decide, we can speculate.

Below, we will work through the candidates to fill one of the coveted seats with IndyCar's championship team.

Unlikely Buyouts

I mentioned above that Ganassi might buy out a driver with a current team. I view this as an unlikely scenario, making drivers such as Bourdais and Hinchcliffe likely to stay with their current teams. Both were free agents about a month ago, and probably would have been good candidates. However, both are now signed to their 2014 teams, and are unlikely to be picked up by Ganassi now. Other unlikely buyout candidates would include.....

Justin Wilson:

Wilson is as good a candidate as anyone and something of a fan favorite, as he has spent most of his career with smaller teams chasing the Ganassis, Penskes, and Andrettis of the world. The question with Wilson is not whether he is qualified, but what exactly his situation with Dale Coyne Racing is.

Coyne, of course, is known to have an option on Wilson’s services for 2014. It is unknown whether Coyne has exercised that option yet, but we can all assume, he is no rush to tell us. 

Presuming, Wilson in under contract to some degree with Coyne, one has to imagine Coyne is not going to simply let Wilson walk.  Sure, Coyne has been cooperative in such situations before. Remember, he allowed Oriol Servia to go to Newman/Haas midway through 2005, and Cristiano da Matta to do the same with RuSPORT in 2006. But these are very different times for Dale Coyne Racing.

The team, of course, is coming off its best Indy Car season to date, and Coyne has a bona-fide #1 driver in Wilson. DCR is looking to take the next step as a team, and Wilson is very much a part of those plans.

Also, throw in the fact that Honda, although not confirmed, is still presumably going to be with DCR. And anyone who presumes Honda will be cooperative about one of its best drivers moving to Ganassi after the less than amicable split this season between the two, doesn't know anything about Honda. 

Conclusion: Wilson stays with DCR.

Josef Newgarden:

The 2011 Indy Lights champ took the step forward everyone was hoping he would in 2013. He is under contract with the growing Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing for 2014, and many IndyCar fans would love to see what the 2011 Indy Lights Champion could do with a top team.

Of course, that will have to be worked out with young Josef's doting owner. Fisher and partner Wink Hartman have invested heavily in Josef (reportedly a lot of Hartman's personal fortune), and are probably unwilling to separate with the face of their young team unless the compensation is formidable.

Conclusion: Newgarden would be a great choice. However, the only way I see Fisher and Hartman letting him go is through major compensation. Of course, Fisher stated last month she was none too thrilled with her Honda engine deal, and Ganassi just signed with Chevrolet but......

The Solid Veterans

Ganassi could go the route of hiring a dependable veteran for one year. A solid "place-holder" for 2014, would then allow Ganassi to pursue a long-term replacement for 2015. Ryan Hunter-Reay, for example, signed a two-year extension with Andretti Autosport after the 2012 season, and would theoretically be a good fit at Ganassi.  And if you want to maybe think a little more long-term Mazda Road to Indy phenom Matthew Brabham is on schedule for a move to the "big cars" in 2015, and would be a very intriguing possibility at Ganassi. The following drivers would indicate such a scenario.

Ryan Briscoe:

The Aussie ran for Ganassi in a fourth entry this year at Indianapolis and for the team in 2005. He is known to be close with Dixon, as well, plus has a proven resume with 8 IndyCar wins and 12 poles to his credit. Also, there have been reports that Briscoe is signed with Panther Racing should the team secure the National Guard backing for 2014.

The downside of Briscoe is evidence exists that he has seen his best days. After nearly winning the series title in 2009, Briscoe captured only two wins in his remaining three years (2010-2012) with Team Penske, as the arrival of Will Power seemed to marginalize Briscoe within the team.

At Ganassi, Briscoe would be part of a four-car effort, with a clear number one driver in Dixon. And he showed in his final years with Penske that such a scenario may not be the right fit.

Conclusion: Briscoe offers the intrigue of a talented driver available at a discount price. But I don’t see Briscoe being a good fit, as he has shown with both Ganassi previously and at Penske, he does not seem to thrive being second fiddle.

Alex Tagliani:

Tagliani, of course, replaced Franchitti at the Fontana finale, and may have gotten the head start on the field if you will. Although seemingly a little snake-bitten, he is, experienced, great with sponsors, hungry, available, and very close with current series champion Scott Dixon.

In short, Tags is not necessarily a huge upside play, but he is a decent fit in terms of the team and 2014. He won’t upset the status quo, yet will relish the opportunity to drive an iconic car for an iconic team.

Conclusion: At 40, Tags is not the long-term solution. But he could be a decent short-term one, and would fit nicely were Ganassi to opt for the “gap year,” solution.

Oriol Servia:

Servia is probably a longer shot than Briscoe or Tags. But should he be?

One thing we know with Servia is that he will complement a championship effort as he did with Sebastien Bourdais at Newman/Haas. He also keeps the car out of the wall and regularly come home in points paying positions.

Conclusion: I think I'm in the minority, but I rate Servia ahead of Tagliani, and see him as a better option for this particular situation than Briscoe. Unlike Tags, he’s a sure bet to bring the car home on a regular basis, and unlike Briscoe he has proven the ability to play a complementary role in a more celebrated teammate's championship effort. The question is whether team Ganassi views it that way.

F1 Guys:

Plenty of drivers have come from F1 to Indy Cars through the years, and gotten up to speed very quickly. Of course, there was Nigel Mansell, who came over as reigning world champion. However, even mid-pack F1 drivers such as Danny Sullivan, Alex Zanardi, Max Papis, Christian Fittipaldi and others have been able to adapt to Indy Cars quickly. And there are currently two intriguing possibilities available.

Sergio Perez:

The first preference of the recent McLaren cast-off is to secure a 2014 seat in F1. However, with nearly all the top drives accounted for, Perez may think twice about an IndyCar seat with Ganassi.

As we know, Ganassi is well-connected to Perez' financial backer Carlos Slim through Ganassi's association with Telmex in sports cars. Also, with races in Houston, Fontana, Fort Worth, and possibly Austin in 2015, Perez would be a huge coup for IndyCar.

Conclusion: Not sure if Ganassi wants to go with someone without experience in the DW12. However, Perez has shown flashes of brilliance in F1, and there is no one on this list, who would move the needle more than the likable Mexican.

Paul di Resta:

There is undoubtedly a sentimental element attached to the possibility of Franchitti's cousin replacing him. Also, judging from his F1 form, the diminutive Scot, seems to race better than he qualifies, an asset that a move to IndyCar may highlight. Also, like Perez, di Resta has shown talent in F1, and may be intrigued by the possibility of joining IndyCar's best team in recent years.

Conclusion: di Resta has talent, but at the end of the day, remains a total wild-card. If Ganassi is going to go the F1 route, you have to think Perez is the more appealing candidate.

A Sleeper:

Luca Filippi:

The likable Italian GP2 veteran has been unable to break into Formula One despite an impressive junior career. He is also seen as the leading candidate to fill #98 Barracuda Racing seat, where he made 4 IndyCar starts late this season in place of Tagliani and was more than impressive.

Conclusion: Filippi seemed to take well to IndyCar in limited action in 2013. The results were nothing to get excited about, but the speed was there. While Filippi has never been on an oval, the talent is there. However, Fillipi will drive the #98 in 2014.

A Few Quick Things:

Speaking with Tony DiZinno of MotorSportsTalk at this weekend's United States Grand Prix, Mario Andretti said next year's five-month IndyCar schedule was "not plausible." Of course, the series opener will be March 30th, 2014 in St. Petersburg, with the season concluding August 30th at Fontana. According to Andretti, IndyCar "can't be taken seriously," relative to F1 and NASCAR with such a schedule.

I don't know about you, but I interpret depth and quality of the current field d Andretti's words as a not so subtle message to Hulman & Co., CEO Mark Miles. Miles, of course, has stated that 2014 would be a "transition year," and that we could expect a stronger schedule in 2015.  I get the sense one Mario Andretti has taken him at his word.

No-brainer decision by Ed Carpenter Racing to hire Mike Conway for road and street circuits in the #20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet for 2014, adding another quality driver to the field. Yes, IndyCar has its problems, but the quality of the current field is not one of them.

Brian Carroccio is a Columnist for AutoRacing1.com. He can be contacted at BrianC@AutoRacing1.com

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