But do you know what happened? It seemed as if Saavedra agreed with that assessment, at least in part. IndyCar’s spiky-haired “Sonic” swallowed his pride, took a full-time Firestone Indy Lights ride in 2012 with a couple of IZOD IndyCar races thrown in, and worked at his craft. No, he didn’t win a Lights title with Andretti Autosport last year, but it was a more patient, humble Saavedra that took to the track. It terms of driver development, it seemed to be a big win. And now, it seems Sebastian Saavedra is back in the IICS full-time with Dragon Racing.
|What will Saavedra's next chance in IndyCar hold?|
(Courtesy IMS Media)
While the murkiness at Dragon Racing this offseason hasn’t exactly brought about loads of happy feelings or puppies and sunshine, seeing Saavedra get another shot is a good story, albeit perhaps one that won’t get the attention of some of the other sagas currently in play. Whatever your feelings on Saavedra, he is a product of the Mazda Road to Indy, specifically Indy Lights. In baseball, we think nothing of a young player being sent down to the minor leagues for more seasoning, but somewhere along the way in IndyCar, it’s become a taboo of sorts. There’s this propensity to push drivers along, as if 1-2 years in Lights will always be enough for a driver to be ready for the move to IndyCar. That’s an expectation that ignores the example of drivers such as James Hinchcliffe (5 seasons in Atlantics/Indy Lights), and J.R. Hildebrand (3+ full seasons between Atlantics/Lights). Saavedra jumped up to IndyCar from Lights, didn’t quite have what it took yet, dropped back down, and then got another chance to see what he had. I suppose that’s part of the reason why I’m pulling for him to make good this time.
So before you overlook the Saavedra news, think for a moment on what a rollercoaster the last three years or so have been for him. When I interviewed him back in September, he confessed talked about his “ego’s touchy state” and how scary the move back to Lights had been. Yet he did it, and when the season opens at St. Pete, Sebastian Saavedra will be a full-time part of the field. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but it’s a sign that having the guts to make the right choice for one’s self can pay off.