Top moments of 2012, #7: The new IndyCar: good or not?

In 2011, INDYCAR sanctioning body was already in test mode with the new Dallara DW12 chassis that would house the powerplants for 2012. It is our seventh moment of the year so was the outcome as expected?

This past IZOD IndyCar Series season had plenty of good (great competition between engine manufacturers and a very racy new car), bad (Lotus' failure to be ready for prime time) and ugly (Will Power's third straight throw-away of a title).

But the highlight for me has to be the Indianapolis 500 this year. Held under hot and sunny conditions, this seminal race was truly competitive with 34 lead changes at the stripe and a last-lap confrontation between Dario Franchitti and Takuma Sato that gave the then-reigning IndyCar champion his third Indy 500 win, all earned under caution!

Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda takes the checkered flag in front of Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda takes the checkered flag in front of Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

A season that began in sadness over the death of star driver Dan Wheldon the previous year ended in one of joy when Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first US-born champion since Sam Hornish Jr in 2006.

While it was surprising to see that Franchitti had troubles getting acclimated to the new Dallara DW12 chassis, he got it all together when it mattered, giving both himself and engine manufacturer Honda a much-needed boost. Honda had zero earned wins prior to the Indy 500 and it looked like the company's choice of a single turbocharger on its engine wasn't the way to go.

Although Chevy's Ryan Briscoe sat on pole for the May Classic, everything for Honda, for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Dario Franchitti and for tire-maker Firestone came together in the waning moments of the 200-lap contest as Franchitti and Sato (also Honda-powered) battled for the win.

Dan Wheldon tests the 2012 Dallara Indycar in September, 2011
Dan Wheldon tests the 2012 Dallara Indycar in September, 2011

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Sato's big lunge into the first turn of the last lap didn't pay off for him and allowed Franchitti to enjoy a milk shower, even as he and nearly every person at the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway racetrack felt the pangs of 2011 Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon's loss. Franchitti continued to wear his white sunglasses through the Monday morning ritual photography in honor of Wheldon. I don't know about you but that gesture sure warmed my heart.

The new Dallara DW12 has finished its teeth-cutting process, along with the drivers, Firestone and the engine manufacturers. Now it is up to the teams to be ready for what could be the best title battle in years. Plus, of course, the all-important Indianapolis 500 win!

Next: moment #6 and Previous: moment #8

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About this article
Series INDYCAR
Article type Special feature
Tags chevrolet, dallara, dw12, franchitti, honda, hunter-reay, indy 500, indycar, izod, lotus, power, top moment