IndyCar | From Dawn till Dusk (Part 1)

There is a cavalcade of past and present IndyCar drivers who are already getting their 2019 racing season underway at the Daytona International Speedway.

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IndyCar | From Dawn till Dusk (Part 1)
Fuente imagen: Tory Robinson

It feels like the checkered flag was emphatically waved just a fortnight ago for the thrilling finish at the IMSA Motul Petit Le Mans. It was actually three agonizingly long months ago for sportscar fans, but more like the blink of an eye for the series' competitors.

The 10-hour race around the immeasurably challenging Road Atlanta circuit in Braselton, Georgia was won on the final lap by the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac team. It's the kind of dramatic finish every racer dreams about. Even if they're not actually behind the wheel in those crucial moments, the anxious co-drivers are likely imitating the precise driving motions on the pit stand. Others, however, may be nervously tapping their feet, pacing back-and-forth, or avoiding every tv monitor in the paddock area.

Contributing to the victorious spoils in Georgia was Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay. Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande did the heavy lifting throughout the 2018 IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship, but the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner played a crucial role in helping WTR secure their only victory of the season, after dominating a year ago.

Less than a month before that, Hunter-Reay was spraying champagne for his team's dominant performance in the IndyCar season finale at Sonoma Raceway. The St. Petersburg resident led all but five laps, from pole position, to secure fourth place in the championship - his best since winning it all six years ago.

Versatility in racing is nothing new. Drivers of the past were racing everything that had wheels on them, almost every weekend, and enjoying that same feeling of conquering a new challenge in new surroundings. The drivers of today, however, have so many more demands on their time. Between team preparations, sponsor and media commitments, intense training regimens, and quality family time, the life of a modern-day racing driver leaves little opportunity for lazy Sundays on the couch.

Waking up at dawn to attend meetings, navigating through the city to provide television interviews, and returning home after dusk is the life many racers want to live, for they know the alternative all too well. That painstaking search for an opportunity to be part of a race team (either part-time or full-time), have media interest in your efforts, and a scheduled plan to do it all over again tomorrow is worth it. Time flies when you're doing what you love.

The dawn of the 2019 racing season is now upon us, with the completion of the annual Roar Before the 24 at Daytona!

While many drivers are still pounding the pavement in search of a racing opportunity, there are far greater numbers who have descended on the east coast of Florida to prepare for one of the most prestigious and grueling endurance events in the world. Among them are an all-star cast of drivers who have or currently compete in the IndyCar Series.

Acura Team Penske DPi

The now unleashed DPi (Daytona Prototype International) machines are breathtakingly fast for the fans to watch and immensely enjoyable to drive for the competitors who are privileged to be behind the wheel. Taking the fight to the defending champion Whelen Engineering Racing team is the dual effort from Acura Team Penske, who have two of the strongest lineups in the entire field for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Between Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, and new recruit Alexander Rossi, they have a total of six Indy 500 victories! Adding to that already impressive lineup is 2016 IMSA DP champion Dane Cameron, 2017 DPi champion Ricky Taylor, and 2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud! Year one was a learning year for the team, but they still achieved one win at Mid-Ohio. With added experience and the abundance of talent they have in all areas, multiple victories seems like a pretty safe bet in 2019.

Unfortunately, we won't see RHR in the #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. (at least not at Daytona). Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi have signed up for the driving duties this month and, if their recent social media posts are any indication, they're already having a great time! Such is the appeal of the series, venue, and challenge that awaits.


The GTLM class may have the smallest number of entrants, but it certainly doesn't lack in competitive ferocity.

Corvette Racing won the title again last year, but Chip Ganassi Racing are working hard to achieve another 1-2 finish in their jaw-dropping Ford Performance GT machines for the 24 hour season-opener.

Consistency is the key, as driving duties once again belong to Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller, and Sebastien Bourdais in the #66. The #67 car has Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, and defending IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon.

Few would begrudge "Seebass" or "Dixie" some more rest and relaxation days before IndyCar Spring Training starts on February 12th at the Circuit of the Americas, but standing next to that incredibly beautiful piece of automotive art and observing how the familiarity in the team makes the preparation seem so purposefully methodical makes me understand why they wouldn't even consider staying home on the 26th and 27th of January.

There is such a cohesive bond that forms when working together with a group of like-minded individuals for a common goal. The grind of an entire season can probably become wearisome for even the most dedicated professional, but the challenge of giving everything you have for one grandiose test of human and mechanical endurance is an intoxicating one that must be very hard to resist after the first attempt is completed.


One of the most inspiring displays of the desire to compete with some of the best drivers in any discipline, at one of the world's finest racing facilities, is the presence of '97 and '98 CART champion Alex Zanardi. Seeing him in person, while going through a very public driver debrief in the BMW Team RLL pit garage, was an amazing feeling. His achievements in racing almost pale in comparison to what the man from Bologna, Italy has accomplished in other aspects of his life. His message of perseverance despite obstacles and perceived limitations is universally powerful, and how remarkable is it to see Zanardi perform a practice driver's change without the aid of prosthetic appendages?

The raw talent and determination he displayed behind the wheel, upon his stateside debut in 1996, is what really endeared him to a generation of racing fans who were spoilt for choice with many larger-than-life personalities and epic on-track battles.

There are over a dozen other drivers, who drove during the "Roar," that are either current competitors in the IndyCar Series or have competed in its various iterations in the past. Teams, like Meyer Shank Racing and Juncos Racing, are expanding their operations in order to increase their motorsport diversity. Their potential success in multiple arenas will certainly inspire others to follow suit.

Everyone needs an opportunity to recharge their batteries after a hard-fought campaign, but the purest racers quickly experience the sensory deprivation that comes with not being where they want to be most often - at the racetrack, with their team, trying to figure out how they can be faster than everyone else, and add a new Rolex watch to their collection.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your IMSA Rolex 24 race victory picks in the comments section!

Part 2 of my IndyCar at Daytona opinion piece will be available to read next week.

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