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2014 Standings
After Long Beach
Pos. Driver Points

1 Will Power 93
2 Mike Conway 66
3 Simon Pagenaud 60
4 Helio Castroneves 55
5 Ryan Hunter-Reay 54
6 Scott Dixon 51
7 Carlos Munoz 48
8 Juan Pablo Montoya 47
9 Mikhail Aleshin 46
10 Sebastian Saavedra 42
11 Tony Kanaan 40
12 Justin Wilson 38
13 Takuma Sato 36
14 Josef Newgarden 34
15 Ryan Briscoe 33
16 Sebastien Bourdais 33
17 Graham Rahal 33
18 Marco Andretti 32
19 Carlos Huertas 32
20 Oriol Servia 26
21 Jack Hawksworth 24
22 James Hinchcliffe 20
23 Charlie Kimball 17

Wins
T1 Will Power 1
T1 Mike Conway 1

Podium Finishes
1 Will Power 2
T2 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1
T2 Helio Castroneves 1
T2 Mike Conway 1
T2 Carlos Munoz 1

Lap Leaders:
1 Will Power 74
2 Ryan Hunter-Reay 51
3 Takuma Sato 33
4 Scott Dixon 22
5 Mike Conway 4
6 Sebastian Saavedra 3
7 Helio Castroneves 2
8 Josef Newgarden 1


Prize Money
1 Will Power $50,000
T2 Mike Conway $30,000
T2 Ryan Hunter-Reay $30,000
4 Simon Pagenaud $18,000
5 Takuma Sato $17,000
T6 Helio Castroneves $15,000
T6 Carlos Munoz $15,000
T8 Juan Pablo Montoya $10,000
T8 Scott Dixon $10,000
T10 Mikhail Aleshin $8,000
T10 Tony Kanaan $8,000
12 Oriol Servia $7,000
T13 Justin Wilson $5,000
T13 Marco Andretti $5,000
T15 Sebastian Saavedra $4,000
T15 Josef Newgarden $4,000
T17 Ryan Briscoe $2,000
T17 Carlos Huertas $2,000

Entrant Points
Pos. # Entrant Points
1 12 Team Penske 93
2 20 Ed Carpenter Racing 66
3 77 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 60
4 3 Team Penske 55
5 28 Andretti Autosport 54
6 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing 51
7 34 Andretti Autosport – HVM Racing 48
8 2 Team Penske 47
9 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 46
10 17 KV AFS Racing 42
11 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing 40
12 19 Dale Coyne Racing 38
13 14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises 36
14 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing 34
15 8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing 33
16 11 KVSH Racing 33
17 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 33
18 25 Andretti Autosport 32
19 18 Dale Coyne Racing 32
20 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 26
21 98 BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian 24
22 27 Andretti Autosport 20
23 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing 17

Finishing Average
1 Will Power 1.5
2 Simon Pagenaud 5
T3 Helio Castroneves 7
T3 Oriol Servia 7
5 Scott Dixon 8
6 Mike Conway 8.5
7 Mikhail Aleshin 9
8 Juan Pablo Montoya 9.5
T9 Sebastian Saavedra 10
T9 Carlos Munoz 10
11 Ryan Hunter-Reay 11
T12 Tony Kanaan 12
T12 Justin Wilson 12
T14 Ryan Briscoe 13.5
T14 Sebastien Bourdais 13.5
T14 Graham Rahal 13.5
T17 Josef Newgarden 14
T17 Carlos Huertas 14
19 Takuma Sato 14.5
20 Marco Andretti 15
21 Jack Hawksworth 18
22 James Hinchcliffe 20
23 Charlie Kimball 21.5

Pole Positions
T1 Takuma Sato 1
T1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1

Appearances in the Firestone Fast Six
1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 2
T2 Scott Dixon 1
T2 Tony Kanaan 1
T2 Sebastien Bourdais 1
T2 Will Power 1
T2 Takuma Sato 1
T2 Marco Andretti 1
T2 James Hinchcliffe 1
T2 Josef Newgarden 1
T2 Simon Pagenaud 1
T2 Jack Hawksworth 1

Qualifying Average
1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 2
2 Scott Dixon 6
3 Jack Hawksworth 6.5
4 Marco Andretti 7
5 Tony Kanaan 7.5
T6 Takuma Sato 8
T6 Sebastien Bourdais 8
T8 Will Power 9
T8 Carlos Munoz 9
10 Helio Castroneves 9.5
11 Simon Pagenaud 10
12 James Hinchcliffe 10.5
13 Oriol Servia 12
T14 Josef Newgarden 13
T14 Justin Wilson 13
16 Ryan Briscoe 13.5
17 Mike Conway 14.5
18 Sebastian Saavedra 16.5
19 Juan Pablo Montoya 17
20 Mikhail Aleshin 17.5
21 Carlos Huertas 19
22 Charlie Kimball 19.5
23 Graham Rahal 22
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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