Motorsports 2013 Review: Looking Ahead to 2014
10. Paul Page returns as Voice of the 500 We'll start off a little self-indulgent, but the hardcore fans of IndyCar, as tiny as they are, are excited about this development. Paul Page, the radio voice of the Indy 500 from 1977-1987 and the TV voice of IndyCar for even longer, has returned as the "Voice of the 500." His voice is the soundtrack for much of the last 30 years, and hearing it again will be a pleasure. He'll be doing all the races and qualifying and practice on the IMS Radio Network, and IndyCar fans will have to decided whether to mute their TVs or not.
9. Indianapolis 500 The last three runnings of the race show why this is on the list. It promises to be another ultra-competitive thriller this year.
8. #TheFuture in American sports cars From the American Le Mans and Grand-Am comes the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (TUSC or TUSCC depending on who you ask). The task of merging sports cars in America has been long and messy, but we finally get to see the results next week with the 24 Hours of Daytona. There are four classes in the series. P is a combination of LMP2 from ALMS and DP from Grand-AM (LMP1 unfortunately is no more here). PC is the same as the spec prototype class from ALMS. GTLM and GTD are the GT classes from the previous two series. There will be kinks to work out, as shown during the Roar Before the 24 last week, but in the long term, one major sports car series should be a good thing for the sport.
7. Grand Prix of Indianapolis The Mark Miles era for IndyCar hasn't done much to get fans thinking that he can help the sport rebound. This year though begins Miles grandest, and some would say blasphemous, experiment so far: an IndyCar race at IMS that is not the Indy 500. Early this May will be the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, run on the road course. Miles's logic makes sense. The month of May needs a boost, and starting it with a race is probably the best way to do it. There are many skeptics though, and no one knows how this will go down until it happens.
6. Actual Rookie of the Year battles In recent years, the Rookie of the Year "race" in NASCAR has been mostly nonexistent. Ricky Stenhouse won last year, but didn't have much competition save for his struggling girlfriend. The three winners before Stenhouse aren't running Sprint Cup anymore. IndyCar last year had the same problem, with Tristan Vautier being the only full-time rookie, and it's now looking very unlikely he'll return this year. 2014 will be different though. NASCAR's rookie crop is led by Austin Dillon, returning the #3 to the top level. There's also wunderkind Kyle Larson, taking over the #42 ride at Ganassi. Those two lead what should be a great battle, but there's also intriguing talents like Justin Allgaier, Cole Whitt, and Parker Kligerman. IndyCar meanwhile will see the full season debut of Carlos Munoz, who dazzled in finishing 2nd at Indy. Also expected to be a rookie this year is Luca Filippi, a well regarded Italian who showed flashes in a few races in 2013. Officially entered is Russian Mikhail Aleshin, the 2010 World Series of Renault champion. IndyCar might also end up with 18 year old Indy Lights champ Sage Karam (from Nazareth, PA) and Conor Daly in the fold as well. Either way, both series will have multiple rookies with talent competing in 2014.
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