Eight races down. Eight races to go. Which means we have reached the halfway point for the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, and let me tell you. It has been one of the best seasons that I can remember in a long time. Unlike NASCAR at times, IndyCar this year has put on eight exciting races from start to finish. Seven different winners in eight races, three of them being first time winners, and an exciting class of "veteran" rookie drivers have made 2021 a year so far to never forget.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, we here at Racing Refresh.com have some IndyCar awards to give out to drivers, teams and moments that have made this season so great.
Most Improved: Alex Palou - Chip Ganassi Racing
We all knew entering this year that Palou had the talent to compete with the veterans and heavy-hitters of the IndyCar Series and what a way to kick off the season by taking the first checkered flag of the 2021 campaign with a win at Barber Motorsports Park. Last year, Palou would have a great run one week and followed up with a disappointing finish the next. That may have been rookie mistakes and going this fast was too much for him. But this year has been different with an average finish of 6.5 and only two finishes outside the top ten up to this point. As well as only being one point behind the championship leader of Pato O'Ward, who was also being considered with this award. Look for Palou to be a championship favorite as the season goes on.
Most Disappointing: James Hinchcliffe - Andretti Autosport
For the self-acclaimed Mayor of Hinchtown, James Hinchcliffe maybe on the hot seat this year as he has had the most disappointing year so far. With an average finish of 18th and sitting behind Santino Ferruci in points has only made three starts so far this year, James has started in every single one of them with the best finish of 14th on the year.
Rookie of the Year (so far) - Romain Grosjean - Dale Conye Racing with Rick Ware
This might be the most controversial of awards given out, due in large part to Scott Mclaughlin being the current leader in the rookie of the year standings to this point. But Grosjean has had a phenomenal start to his IndyCar career. With a top 10 finish at Barber to open the season up and follow that with a podium finish and potential win at the Indianapolis Grand Prix in May. At Belle Isle, he had his first two DNFs, one was a spin that took him out of the event and another was a mechanical failure. By adding an oval event to his calendar later in the season at Gateway, it opens the door for Grosjean to compete in a full calendar in 2022.
Best Winning Performance - Helio Castroneves - Indianapolis 500
Certainly a favorite moment in all of motor sports was to see "Spider-Man" win his fourth Indianapolis 500 in a duel with one of the young guns in the series. It is a shame that Helio is not racing full time in the series in 2021. He has three races left with the Meyer-Shank Racing team as the series heads west to close out the season later this year. Hopefully in 2022, the team can field a second entry full time for him as he could attempt to get his fifth win.
Scariest Moment - Felix Rosenqvist - Stuck Throttle at Chevrolet Grand Prix in Detroit
A scary moment during race one of the Chevrolet Grand Prix in Detroit doubleheader was Felix Rosenqvist stuck throttle into turn six. Looking in to the situation, there are numerous failsafe that are programed into the car to prevent a throttle sticking since IndyCar went to the fly-by-wire throttle system that apparently failed. Fortunately, Felix was sent to a hospital with no serious injuries and will come back after the race in Road America.
Most Dominating Preformance: Colton Herta at Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Colton Herta is one of IndyCar's brightest stars to build on in the future, and he showed that at the second race of the year in St. Petersburg, Florida. Herta led 97 of the 100 laps, which broke the record set by Scott Dixon for most laps led in a single race for a win.