Friday, January 7, 2011

Last Year's Top 10 In Indy Lights: Will They Make The Jump?

I thought it might be interesting to take a quick look at the Top 10 in points for Firestone Indy Lights in 2010 to see how their 2011 prospects are shaping up. How many have a shot at the big cars? Let's check it out:

1) JK Vernay: Won the scholarship for the Lights champ. Will end up somewhere on the grid for '11.

2) James Hinchcliffe: Considered a favorite for the Newman-Haas seat, but nothing finalized yet.

3) Martin Plowman: Buzz around him seems to be growing, but nothing definite. Stated on Twitter he may have something to announce in a few weeks, and on last night's Trackside, he said he felt that he would be in an IndyCar at some point in 2011.

4) Charlie Kimball: Making the big jump to Ganassi's new team in 2011.

5) Pippa Mann: A lot of people seem to think she'll run Lights, with possibly 1-2 chances in an IndyCar. This will be an interesting one to watch.

6) Adrian Campos, Jr.: Projected to return to Team Moore for another season of Lights.

7) Dan Clarke: A wild card right now. With Walker Racing possibly running a partial IndyCar schedule in 2011, his name has of course been linked with that seat, but the entire situation remains murky.

8) Sebastian Saavedra: ESPN Deportes seems to think he's got a crack at a seat. Possibly 2nd car at Conquest? One of the more plausible rumors that's out there.

9) Philip Major: No confirmed plans for 2011 yet. It'd be great to see him return for a sophomore year in Indy Lights.

10) Gustavo Yacaman: Confirmed as returning with Team Moore in Lights for 2011.

From the Freedom 100 to the Indy 500? Time will tell.
Really, that's a much better potential upward mobility rate then I had originally formulated in my head, but it's still too early to make any sort of judgment call. Offhand, there's 2 confirmed (Kimball at Ganassi, Vernay somewhere with his winnings), 2 very likely (Hinchcliffe, Saavedra), and a couple more like Mann and Plowman that I wouldn't be shocked to see show up for a couple of races.

Of course, on a lot of these drivers, the jury's still out on where they'll be in 2011, but if drivers such as Vernay, Hinch, and Plowman make the jump or get at least a decent shot in the big cars, it'll add to a great potential Rookie of the Year battle.

A lot of these Lights seats probably won't be determined for another 4-6+ weeks, at least not publicly. But in the meantime, it's fun to speculate and see just how many worthy Indy Lights drivers might get that shot in IndyCar in 2011.

(Photo provided courtesy of IndyCar Media)


  1. Great list! I have to admit I'm not as familiar with many drivers below the IndyCar level, so stuff like this helps me get up to speed.

  2. Honestly, Mike, I've been remiss in some of my Indy Lights following in past years, but they have some really deserving drivers. I'm going to try to follow it a little more closely, so if/when their time comes in the big cars, I'm not stumbling around blind.