Twenty years in the past, INDYCAR SERIES racing started producing a brand new wave of expertise that carries the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as we speak.
Scott Dixon was then a newcomer to North America’s high type of open-wheel racing, racing with PacWest earlier than beginning his run with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2002. Dixon’s Indianapolis 500 rookie class included two different future winners of “The Best Spectacle in Racing” – Buddy Rice (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005, 2011). Dixon earned his “500” victory in 2008.
The 2000s, which INDYCAR.com is that includes, noticed the emergence of future INDYCAR SERIES champions Sam Hornish Jr., Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Energy and Simon Pagenaud. It supplied a worldwide stage for Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick.
It was the last decade the place Helio Castroneves and Cristiano da Matta gained their first races, and the place Al Unser Jr., Michael Andretti and Paul Tracy gained their final races.
The last decade provided a few of Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s most memorable moments, together with Castroneves’ first fence climb (2001), Patrick’s late move of Wheldon that despatched the group right into a frenzy (2005) and Hornish’s last-second overtaking of Marco Andretti (2006). Even the sight of Rice (2004) and Dario Franchitti (2007) splashing to Victory Lane by means of the rain dwell within the annals of race historical past.
Castroneves almost three-peated at IMS, denied by Gil de Ferran’s 2003 win that gave Workforce Penske a uncommon three straight wins. Bourdais gained 4 consecutive Champ Automobile World Sequence championships (2004-2007). Streaks added up.
Da Matta (2002) and Bourdais (2006) gained 4 consecutive Champ Automobile races, probably the most in succession since Alex Zanardi did likewise in 1998. Wheldon gained 4 of the primary 5 of the 2005 INDYCAR season, together with the “500,” en path to the season title. Tracy, Wheldon, Bourdais, AJ Allmendinger and Dixon gained three races in a row, and Bourdais did it 3 times.
The 2000s noticed unification of the game. The march to develop into one started with Chip Ganassi’s group profitable the “500” in 2000 with Juan Pablo Montoya’s dominating run. Roger Penske’s outfit adopted, then the workforce now referred to as Andretti Autosport and others. By 2008, the game was formally complete.
INDYCAR’s 2007 season was notably dramatic. Franchitti edged Dixon for the championship at Chicagoland Speedway when Dixon’s main automobile ran out of gas in Flip 3 of the final lap. A month earlier, Franchitti couldn’t have imagined being in such a place. In a six-day interval, his automobile spectacularly flipped upside twice, first at Michigan Speedway in a crash that included Dixon, after which at Kentucky Speedway when he ran over the again of Kosuke Matsuura coming to the checkered flag.
Competitors develop into nearer than ever within the 2000s. 5 of the six closest finishes in INDYCAR SERIES historical past occurred through the decade, together with the highest 4. Freight trains of automobiles working side-by-side on ovals turned widespread, with profitable margins as scant as Hornish’s all-time file hole of .0024 of a second over Unser at Chicagoland Speedway.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES not solely debuted its first road race in 2005, however Andretti Autosport drivers swept the primary 4 ending positions at St. Petersburg, a feat not achieved earlier than or since.
Statistically, Bourdais was probably the most profitable of the 2000s, with 31 race wins and 4 championships. Dixon gained 22 races, two season titles and the “500” whereas Hornish gained 19 races, three championships (with two completely different groups) and Indy. Castroneves additionally 22 races, placing his likeness on the Borg-Warner Trophy 3 times. Franchitti gained 17 races, captured season titles on both aspect of his one-year NASCAR foray, and he gained the “500.”
Fifty drivers gained the 284 races, together with the father-and-son Andrettis (Michael and Marco), the Lazier brothers (Buddy and Jaques) and Patrick, the primary girl to succeed in victory lane.
The 2000s had been bookended by Robbie Buhl’s win at Walt Disney World Speedway and Franchitti capping the 2009 season with a championship-deciding victory at Homestead.
A basic decade it was.
WINNERS of the 2000s
4: Sebastien Bourdais
3: Sam Hornish Jr.
2: Gil de Ferran, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon
1: Buddy Lazier, Cristiano da Matta, Paul Tracy, Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon
31: Sebastien Bourdais
22: Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon
19: Sam Hornish Jr.
17: Dario Franchitti
16: Paul Tracy
15: Dan Wheldon
13: Tony Kanaan
12: Cristiano da Matta
8: Bruno Junqueira
7: Gil de Ferran
6: Buddy Lazier, Adrian Fernandez, Justin Wilson
5: Scott Sharp, Ed Carpenter, Kenny Brack, AJ Allmendinger, Ryan Briscoe
4: Michael Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Energy
3: Max Papis, Al Unser Jr., Buddy Rice, Ryan Hunter-Reay
2: Gil de Ferran, Roberto Moreno, Jimmy Vasser, Eddie Cheever Jr., Greg Ray, Mario Dominguez, Alex Barron, Tomas Scheckter, Michel Jourdain Jr., Robert Doornbos, Bryan Herta
1: Christian Fittipaldi, Robbie Buhl, Scott Goodyear, Airton Dare, Jeff Ward, Jaques Lazier, Felipe Giaffone, Alex Tagliani, Oriol Servia, Marco Andretti, Nelson Philippe, Graham Rahal, Danica Patrick