10. Justin Wilson
Wouldn't say it publicly, but this was definitely a step up in terms of team, and having a team-mate in Mike Conway (and then lots of others) at Dreyer & Reinbold must've helped. Power's road course prowess ruined his chances of taking a race win, which he failed to do for the first time since 2004 at this level. Still has plenty to offer a top squad, and hopefully qualifying sixth at Homestead means he's getting better at ovals too.
Defining moment: Frustration at Toronto, as potential win dissolves into seventh place.
The cynics say he's more like his dad than his grandpa; then again, his dad was pretty quick too. Usual mixed bag of inspired charges, tumbling down the order, or plain old anonymity. Needs another win, because that Sears Point victory seems a long time ago now. Actually, come to think of it, it was a long time ago. Homestead was a potential win that went begging, but third at Indy was a high point. The potential remains, however, for him to be a huge star, but he's got to start harnessing that sooner rather than later.
Defining moment: Mario Moraes sitting on his head at first corner of the season.
8. Dan Wheldon
Must be interesting when you're suing the team you're currently driving for, but Wheldon kept his litigation against Panther Racing separate from his race weekends. Second places at Indy and Chicago both times following his old pal Franchitti home were the highlights. Scary shunts at St Pete and Sears Point (where he rolled before the start!) were not. Easily the best of the rest of the non-Ganassi/Penske/Andretti 'galacticos'; continues to struggle on road courses compared to ovals.
Defining moment: Another splendid run at Indianapolis, where he always excels.
7. Ryan Briscoe
In Aussie-speak, there were moments of his season that were about as exciting as a veggie barbie. He certainly seemed to suffer the most as the team expanded to accommodate fellow countryman Power. Then there were moments when he'd go three-wide around the outside, and reminded you that he's as brave as anyone out there. He just lacked that final tenth of pace at too many tracks that made him a title contender last year. Needs to be back in the title hunt next year.
Defining moment: Victory at Texas was like the Briscoe of old.
Spent the season unsure whether he'd contest all the races, but victory in Long Beach secured his drive. Massive thumb-tweaking shunt at Indy didn't help, but in a series that needs as many quick Americans as it can get, he proved he's up to it. If he can just a little consistency to his obvious speed, he'd be a potentially serious title contender. To be second-best Andretti driver in this list proves what a positive season this was.
Defining moment: Strong run in Sao Paulo opener gave him a huge boost.
5. Tony Kanaan
Seemed to be either brilliantly on it, or woefully off it a bit like the team. Stunning victory at Iowa laid to rest the ghosts of previous mammoth shunts there. Despite his long-term Andretti Autosport deal, he drove the end-of-season races like someone looking for a new team as well as a new sponsor. At Homestead it looked like he might propel team-mate Danica Patrick into the next State! Seeing him in a third Ganassi-affiliated car, however unlikely that might sound, would be an intriguing prospect.
Defining moment: Amazing first corner round-the-outside moves on ovals after yet another dismal qualifying effort.
4. Scott Dixon
Admitted he suffered a "rough year" but scored three victories which tied team-mate Franchitti. His driving didn't seem as effortless as usual this season. Some days he was plain slow; not an adjective you'd normally associate with this two-time champion. Needs a strong season next year, now Franchitti has matched his tally of Ganassi titles, otherwise the Chipster might consider looking elsewhere for his answer to the potential of Power. Write him off at your peril, however, because he can win anywhere.
Defining moment: Victory in Homestead finale after being freed of wingman duties - a great incentive for next term.
This was a strange season for old twinkle-toes. He won early at Barber Motorsports Park, went crazy at Edmonton (justifiably a terrible stewards' call), then won back-to-back races at Kentucky and Motegi. Shunts at Texas (not his fault) and Toronto (definitely his fault) didn't help. There's no denying he's a flat-out racer, but sometimes his blocking tactics mean he's not the most popular in the paddock. Couldn't hold a candle to Power on the road courses, Edmonton aside, but was certainly second-best of the three Penskes, and its strongest oval racer.
Defining moment: Has to be theatrics after losing Edmonton victory; save it for your future TV career, Helio!
2. Will Power
What an amazing display of focus and determination from this steely Aussie. His part-time season last year was ended by a back-breaking crash at Sears Point, yet his early-season form on the road courses was little short of immense. Roger Penske gave him a full-time shot, and he repaid 'The Captain' with a record eight poles, as well as five race wins. Ignore the 'can't win on an oval' nonsense; he's still on a learning curve on them. If he's this good already, imagine how good he's going to get.
Defining moment: Chose between Chicago fuel mix-up and brushing the wall in the final round.
Refuses to admit it, but third title and second Indianapolis 500 victory has truly elevated his status to a genuine Indycar great. Gearbox failure at Iowa could have derailed his title bid, but he did not deviate from his destiny. Three wins were just enough to keep him in range of Power for the four-round showdown on the ovals, and he cites Chicagoland as the most crucial of these. Three titles from three attempts, this time back-to-back with Ganassi Racing a quite stunning achievement.
Defining moment: Dominated Indy 500 to spur him on to third title.
*For the full analysis of the IndyCar season, including interviews with Franchitti and Power, buy this week's AUTOSPORT magazine - or get the online version, here.
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