IndyCar Series rookie class distinguishes itself
At the halfway point of the IndyCar Series season, the largest class of rookies in the series in years is making its mark, including Graham Rahal’s historic victory on the streets of St. Petersburg and 11 rookies qualifying for the 92nd Indianapolis 500.
Ten full-time drivers are in the race for the Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year award.
Hideki Mutoh, currently fifth overall in IndyCar Series points, leads the charge. The driver of the No. 27 Formula Dream entry for Andretti Green Racing has five top-10 finishes in nine races, including a second place at the Iowa Speedway.
“Hideki Mutoh is coming out strong as a rookie, but he’s with a great team,” Vision Racing’s Ed Carpenter said.
Australian Will Power closed the books on the Champ Car World Series with a victory on Long Beach’s winding streets and is 11th in IndyCar Series points. Power is second in the rookie title search, sitting 37 points behind Mutoh.
“This year, our strengths are on the road courses, but we’re catching up on the ovals now and we seem to be running more competitively,” said Power, driver of the No. 8 Aussie Vineyards – Team Australia car for KV Racing Technology. “I think the second half of the season will be good for us.”
Justin Wilson, driver of the No. 2 McDonald’s car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, is competing in his first year as an IndyCar Series driver, but he is no stranger to the sport. Wilson was a two-time Champ Car title runner-up. He is fourth in the rookie standings.
“It’s great that unification has taken place. We’ve got everyone back together and we’ve got everyone working in the same direction,” said Wilson, who has posted four top-10 finishes.
Rahal, son of racing champion Bobby Rahal, made history as the youngest IndyCar Series winner at 19 years old in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Rahal has two top-10 finishes and a career-best starting position of second at The Milwaukee Mile. In his first IndyCar Series oval start at Kansas, he moved from 20th to 12th place in the No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. He is fifth in the standings.