There were just six different winners in the 2009 Verizon IndyCar Series season. In 2014, there were a record-tying 11.
What changed? Well, there appears to be a couple factors.
James Hinchcliffe said the competition has gotten better. In each year since 2009, the number of different winners has increased. In 2013, there were 10 different winners, which was the first time since the 2001 CART Series season where there were at least 10 winners in a single season (11).
Another likely factor was the Dallara DW12 chassis, named in honor of the late two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon, which was introduced in 2012. It was the biggest change in the sport in more than 10 years.
According to Hinchcliffe, that may have been the biggest difference. Since the start of the 2012 season, there have been 17 different winners.
Parity has run true in open-wheel racing ever since.
“I think a lot of it comes from the new car coming in,” Hinchcliffe said. “That kind of leveled the playing field and took away a lot of the advantages the guys with the bigger budgets that have had the (previous) car for a decade to figure out. That’s definitely been a big part of it.”
The latest to add his name to the list of 2014 winners was Tony Kanaan in Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. It was the Brazilian’s first victory of the season and his first with Chip Ganassi Racing. In addition, Will Power put the lid on a championship run with a ninth-place finish, giving car owner Roger Penske his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship since 2006 with Sam Hornish Jr.
The 2014 winners were: Power, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Mike Conway, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Ed Carpenter, Carlos Huertas, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais and Kanaan.
Huertas was a first-time winner for Dale Coyne Racing.