The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season was the 102nd season of American open wheel racing and the 18th season of the IndyCar Series. Its premier event was the 97th Indianapolis 500 held on Sunday, May 26. The 2013 season was the second to feature the Dallara DW12 chassis. Ryan Hunter-Reay entered the season as the defending drivers' champion. Chevrolet entered as the defending Manufacturers' Cup champion.The 2013 season has featured four first-time winners, the most since 1965. Also highlighting the season is the introduction of doubleheader races, and the experimentation with standing starts at selected events. Heading into the final race of the season, two-time champion Scott Dixon led Hélio Castroneves by 25 points in a two driver fight for the championship. In a race where only nine drivers finished, Dixon finished fifth while Castroneves finished sixth, and as a result, Dixon won his third series title by 27 points. In the manufacturers' championship, Chevrolet defended their title ahead of Honda
Round 1: St. Petersburg
James Hinchcliffe won the first Indy car race of his career, taking the lead from Hélio Castroneves on a restart on lap 85 of 110. Hinchcliffe held off Castroneves by 1.09 seconds, with Marco Andretti finishing third, passing Simona de Silvestro for the position on the final lap.
Will Power dominated the early parts of the race, but dropped to 16th at the finish after contact with J. R. Hildebrand. Dario Franchitti finished last after an early crash, and defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay dropped out with mechanical problems.
Round 2: Barber
Ryan Hunter-Reay won the pole position and led 53 laps en route to victory. After a sequence of pit stops around lap 50, Helio Castroneves led. Hunter-Reay caught up and passed Castroneves for the lead on lap 75, with Scott Dixon moving up to second. Hunter-Reay held off the charge of Dixon over the last 5–10 laps, to seal the win. Castroneves held on to finish third. Will Power started second, but slid off the track in turn one at the start, losing several positions. After working his way back to the front for two laps, he came home 5th.
Round 3: Long Beach
Takuma Sato led 50 of 80 laps, and won his first career IndyCar Series race at the 39th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Sato effectively took control of the race on lap 23, when he passed Ryan Hunter-Reay for second place in turn 1. After the leaders cycled through pit stops, Sato assumed the lead on lap 31, and did not relinquish the top spot for the remainder of the race. Sato's win was the first for A. J. Foyt Enterprises since 2002 and their first ever (in the teams 34th season) not on an Oval.
Round 4: São Paulo
In the dramatic closing laps, Takuma Sato was leading, looking for his second consecutive victory. Josef Newgarden was running second, and in third was a hard-charging James Hinchcliffe. Newgarden challenged Sato for the lead with a few laps to go, but Sato held the lead. Hinchcliffe then managed to take over second, and set his sights on Sato. On the backstretch, Hinchcliffe went side-by-side, but again Sato held the lead, with what some thought may have been intentional 'blocking.' On the final lap, Hinchcliffe again tried for the lead on the backstretch, and again Sato aggressively defended his position. At the end of the backstretch, going into the final turn, Sato slid high, and Hinchcliffe slipped by on the inside to take the win by 0.3463 seconds. At the same time, Marco Andretti made a similar pass for third place, to round out the podium.
Round 5: Indianapolis 500
A race record 68 lead changes amongst 14 different drivers highlighted the most competitive and fastest Indy 500 in history. On a restart with three laps to go, Ryan Hunter-Reay led rookie Carlos Muñoz, Tony Kanaan, and Marco Andretti. At the green flag, the top three cars went three-wide into turn one, with Kanaan taking the lead. Seconds later, Dario Franchitti hit the outside wall in turn one, bringing out the final caution. Tony Kanaan completed the final two laps in the lead under yellow, and won his first Indy 500, a popular victory after eleven previous unsuccessful attempts.
Round 6: Detroit (Sat.)
The first race of the Chevrolet Dual at Detroit saw part-time driver Mike Conway dominate. The series began utilizing a revised and upgraded version of the Belle Isle circuit, a layout used by CART from 1998–2001. Conway took the lead on lap 44 and led a total of 47 laps en route to victory. In the second half, Conway pulled out to an insurmountable 20-second lead at one point.
Round 7: Detroit (Sun.)
Mike Conway started from the pole position and looked to sweep the weekend of races in the second race of the Chevrolet Dual at Detroit. Conway led 31 of the first 45 laps, but after a sequence of pit stops, and a failed tire strategy, was shuffled back to third in the closing stages. After a nine-car accident that took out several front-runners, the final stint shaped up as a three-car battle between Simon Pagenaud, James Jakes, and Conway. Pagenaud came to the lead when Jakes pitted on lap 58. Jakes came back out on the track close behind, with Conway charging in third. Pagenaud held off the challenge, and won his first-career IndyCar race, and the first victory for Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports.
Round 8: Texas
Helio Castroneves dominated en route to his first win of the season, and Penske Racing's first victory of 2013. Castroneves led the final 132 laps, and won over second place Ryan Hunter-Reay by 4.6919 second. However, Castroneves' car failed post-race inspection due to an illegal underwing. The team was fined $35,000 but Castroenves maintained the victory.
Round 9: Milwaukee
Ryan Hunter-Reay won for the second year in a row at Milwaukee, taking the lead from Takuma Sato with 53 laps to go, after executing a daring pass on Helio Castroneves only a few laps before. Marco Andretti started on the pole and led 61 laps, but an electrical problem dropped him from contention. The combination of these events meant Hunter-Reay passed his Andretti Autosport teammate for 2nd in the championship.
Round 10: Iowa
James Hinchcliffe led 226 of 250 laps, dominating his way to victory. Second place Ryan Hunter-Reay mounted a charge in the waning laps as Hinchcliffe developed some handling problems, but fell short at the finish. Helio Castroneves finished 8th, but held on to the championship points lead.
Round 11: Pocono
IndyCars returned to Pocono for the first time since 1989. Marco Andretti started on the pole, and dominated most of the first half. His fuel stop strategy, however, forced him to conserve late in the race, and dropped him to a 10th place finish. Early contenders Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato dropped out when Sato overshot the entrance to pit road, slamming into Hunter-Reay's car from behind. In the late stages, Ganassi teammates Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball, and Dario Franchitti came to the front after a well-executed final pit stop strategy. Dixon led the Ganassi sweep of the podium, owner Chip Ganassi's first 1–2–3 sweep, the team's 100th Indycar win, and the 200th victory for Honda in the series.
Round 12: Toronto (Sat.)
The second doubleheader of the season was held at Toronto. The Saturday race was scheduled to utilize a standing start, but it was waved off when Josef Newgarden stalled on the track. Scott Dixon won, while Sébastien Bourdais finished second, his first open-wheel podium since 2007.
Round 13: Toronto (Sun.)
Scott Dixon swept the second race of the doubleheader, as well as winning his third consecutive race overall. After waving off the previous day, the Sunday race utilized a standing start, the first American Indycar race to utilize a standing start in modern times.
Round 14: Mid-Ohio
Charlie Kimball became the fourth first-time winner of the season, and the 9th different winner in 14 races. Kimball took the lead for good on lap 73 of 90, and won even after crashing his primary car earlier in the weekend. Some drivers in the field were attempting to execute a two-stop strategy, but in doing so, fuel-saving measures were needed. In a race that went without a caution, Kimball's race strategist made the call to switch to a three-stop run, which allowed a much faster pace, and Kimball pulled away to a commanding victory.
Round 15: Sonoma
Lucas Luhr made his IndyCar Series debut, driving the #97 Honda for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. J. R. Hildebrand drove the #98 car for Barracuda Racing. Dario Franchitti won the pole. Will Power and Scott Dixon battled most of the race, but when Dixon hit one of Power's crew members, Dixon received a drive-through penalty. Power led the final fifteen laps to take his first win of the season, and as a result, Power became the tenth different winner of the 2013 season.
Round 16: Baltimore
Round 17: Houston (Sat.)
The first race of the Houston doubleheader saw Scott Dixon win, and points leader Hélio Castroneves struggle. Castroneves suffered mechanical problems and came home 18th. Dixon closed the championship deficit to 8 points with two events remaining.
Round 18: Houston (Sun.)
The second race of the Houston doubleheader was marred by a major crash involving Dario Franchitti, Takuma Sato and E. J. Viso. On the final lap, Franchitti touched wheels with Takuma Sato, and his car was launched up into the catch fence. Debris injured thirteen spectators, while Franchitti was hospitalized with a concussion, fractured ankle, and two spinal fractures; these injuries forced him to retire from racing. Sato and Viso were uninjured.
Will Power took the race victory, and Scott Dixon came home second. For the second day in a row, Hélio Castroneves suffered gearbox troubles, which relegated him to a 23rd place finish. Dixon took the points lead for the first time, holding a 25-point advantage with one race left.
Round 19: Fontana
A. J. Allmendinger returned to Team Penske, driving the #2 car. J. R. Hildebrand drove the #98 Honda for Barracuda Racing. Will Power, from the pole, quickly lost the lead to a faster Sébastien Bourdais who dominated the first quarter of the race. Meanwhile Castroneves rises from 10th to 5th place and watched the battle for the lead between Kanaan, Hunter-Reay, Bourdais and a fast Carlos Muñoz while Dixon keep the pace in 15th place.
At lap 111, Justin Wilson lost the rear of his car and was avoided by Josef Newgarden who collected Oriol Servià on the process. Then Wilson was hit by Tristan Vautier involving also James Jakes and Simona de Silvestro on the accident. Wilson was sent to the local hospital with minor fractures.
At the checkered flag Will Power finally grabbed the win at Fontana, followed by Ed Carpenter and Tony Kanaan. Dixon finished at 5th place, which was enough to give him the season title, while Castroneves had a tough night and finished 6th. Dixon become the new three time Indycar Series Champion, winning previously in 2003 and 2008.
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