Jack Hawksworth: A star in the making

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Jack Hawksworth proved his worth in Houston this past weekend.

When Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) decided to hire British rookie Jack Hawksworth as their Verizon IndyCar Series driver for the 2014 season, there were a lot of people scratching their heads, wondering why.

Jack Hawksworth, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda
Jack Hawksworth, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

Photo by: Chris Jones

Sure, Hawksworth had a glorious first year in the Mazda Road to Indy, handily winning the 2012 Pro Mazda series his first time out. He was a bit erratic in 2013, winning three races in Indy Lights for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports but also showing the kind of “all or nothing” attitude that rarely gains a driver another step up the ladder.

Still Bryan Herta and Steve Newey thought they had a gem in the rough. Turns out they were right.

Hawksworth started showing his mettle in the first race of the year at St Petersburg, running with the big dogs before having his day ruined in a restart pileup. He also had issues that relegated him to a 15th place result in Long Beach (despite running extremely well), finished 12th and on the lead lap at Barber and led 31 laps at the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis before being relegated to 7th at the close, due to miscommunications.

Jack Hawksworth, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda
Jack Hawksworth, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

Photo by: Jay Alley

Hawksworth’s was the final car on the lead lap in this year’s Indianapolis 500 (20th), but he had a difficult Detroit weekend, despite leading a single lap in the second race of that doubleheader. The young Brit survived Texas, and then showed his mettle again this weekend at Houston, finishing sixth in the first race and battling former Indy 500 winner, series champion and Formula 1 veteran (oh, and NASCAR vet) Juan Pablo Montoya in the second of two races to take his first podium in the series, just behind fellow rookie Mikhail Aleshin and [now] four-time winner Simon Pagenaud.

It’s been some time coming for Hawksworth, but trust me - this won’t be the last we see of J-Hawks at the fast end of the IndyCar field. The fact that this kid ran from last place, 23rd, on Sunday at Houston to finish third, keeping Montoya behind him for a scintillating four laps toward the end was enough to make quite a few Indy car aficionados take notice.

Jack Hawksworth, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda
Jack Hawksworth, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

Photo by: David Yowe

They shouldn’t be surprised, really. Both Herta and Newey have keen eyes for talent and, with their small but overachieving team, have a way of making the most of their situations. Even though J-Hawks arrived at BHA with his helmet, he brought little else to his advancement in INDYCAR, other than some immense talent and an unassuming manner. He’s impressed Todd Malloy, an astute engineer on the Verizon IndyCar Series trail and the man who helped Dan Wheldon to his second - and final - Indy 500 win.

Jack Hawkworth’s balance of the season might not be as great as this weekend’s results indicated - or it could be better. He’s still got some work to do on his oval prowess in the No. 98 Honda/Dallara/Firestone Indy car, but this, too, will come with time.

That this 23-year-old is nonplussed about battling with veterans that have a heck of a lot more track time than he is to his benefit. Fear has no place in major modern racing. And Jack Hawksworth belongs in this series because he fears no one.

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Series INDYCAR
Article type Analysis
Tags bha, bryan herta autosport, houston, indycar, jack hawksworth, rookie