Tuesday, February 8, 2011

No More Mutoh: A Look Back

With the news yesterday that Hideki Mutoh will be pursuing Super GT opportunities in Japan in 2011, it seemingly brings the curtain down on Hideki’s career in the IZOD IndyCar Series. I don’t think the funding was there for another run in 2011, and I don’t think he was precisely a hot commodity, either. Most folks had long since figured Mutoh wouldn't be returning, and this bit of news seems to be the final confirmation of that.

Happy Trails, Hideki...
At best, you can call his career in IndyCar a mixed bag. Hideki had a promising start in Indy Lights, but never really lived up to that early potential through three full seasons of IndyCar. He had a good rookie season in 2008, finishing 10th in points and claiming Rookie of the Year, but 2009 seemed to see him regress slightly, with maddening inconsistency being his apparent calling card. Last year’s season with Newman/Haas was even worse, with Mutoh’s car exiting early at Indy after qualifying well, and managing not a single Top 10 finish all year. Hideki was probably not the driver a struggling team needed to return to form.

On the plus side, Hideki ends up with two quality Top 10 finishes at Indy, and five Top 5 finishes in his career. You can say that when Mutoh was on, he was definitely on. Unfortunately, we never saw that enough or with any manner of consistency. Best of luck to him as he goes forth with this new opportunity. I always kinda liked this quiet, pleasant guy from Japan, who never quite put it all together.

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