SPONSORS: DHL, SUN DROP, CITGO, RC COLA, GODADDY.COM
Andretti Autosport enters the 2013 IndyCar campaign as the defending IZOD IndyCar Series Champions but find a long road ahead of them on their journey to repeat. While Ryan Hunter-Reay’s amazing 2012 campaign has been well documented, it almost completely overshadowed the struggles of the other two members of the team.
When Ryan Hunter-Reay returns to the grid in St. Petersburg he will be thrust immediately into the defense of his title. By no means should Hunter-Reay’s title be cast aside as lucky or fortunate as he finished the season with a daring win at Baltimore and finished finale at Auto Club Speedway while his rival found the Turn 2 wall. That being said, Hunter-Reay has the bullseye of the #1 affixed to his DW12 for 2013 and the entire field will be coming after him. He and his team must do it better this year if he’s to win consecutive championships. It will be incredibly difficult for Hunter-Reay to have back-to-back five win seasons which he needed to counterbalance some mechanical woes that removed him from contention at Indianapolis, Texas, and Mid-Ohio. Hunter-Reay enters 2013 with a great deal of momentum as the defending champion, but his teammates are a different story.
It seems that whenever Marco Andretti has a season where he looks to have turned a corner the following campaign turns out much like 2012 did. Although his first IZOD IndyCar Series win came on a road course, since that time Andretti has suffered from poor qualifying results on these circuits. Road and Street Courses are notoriously difficult to pass on so starting at the back of the field makes constistent, strong, and points paying finishes almost impossible. Coupled with Andretti’s competitive pace but tough luck on the ovals, the poor results mounted to a frustrating campaign and a number change for 2013.
The 2012 campaign for James Hinchcliffe could be described as a tale of two halves. From St. Petersburg through Iowa, Hinchcliffe had every driver, team member, and analyst in INDYCAR saying that the No. 27 GoDaddy car would find its way to victory lane, but after a difficult weekend in his hometown of Toronto, Hinchcliffe’s season seemed to go dead weight. The top six qualifying positions and competitive race pace seemed to inexplicably go away. 2013 will be Hinchcliffe’s third full season in the IZOD IndyCar Series and he will be asked to be fast at all times and break through to Victory Lane. Ryan Hunter-Reay has solidified himself as the lead driver on this team, but Hinchcliffe will look to move to position 1A on the roster.
HVM Racing suffered the worst season in history in 2012 resulting in the loss of its driver and sponsorship. Owner Keith Wiggins turned to former driver EJ Viso to see if a program was possible for 2013. The result is a car fielded by Andretti Autosport in conjunction with Wiggins HVM outfit and driven by Viso with sponsorship from CITGO and Team Venezuela. Viso has shown flashes of being competitive but has lacked consistency in every seat he has entered. Perhaps, Michael Andretti’s top-tier team will be able to help Viso find the competitive balance.
Indy Lights veteran will join Andretti Autosport at Indianapolis so stay tuned for news on that entry coming in the next 90 days.