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Friday, June 13, 2008

Mutoh, The Next IndyCar Series Star?

Hideki Mutoh is quietly becoming a contender in his 1st IndyCar Series season. Can this rookie from Tokyo build on early season success?

Hideki Mutoh has been the surprise of the year, thus far, in the IndyCar Series. There were flashes of brilliance last year in the Firestone Indy Lights Series for Mutoh. Last season’s results did not readily indicate that Mutoh was ready for the big-time. His eighth place in the season finale at Chicagoland went unnoticed as Dario Franchitti was crowned champion. Not convinced that Mutoh belongs in the IndyCar Series?

Consider that currently Hideki is seventh in the series championship point standings. He has endured normal rookie issues like bad pit stops and a horrible 24th place showing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. To make things worse for the Japanese driver, he drives the car that won the season championship last year in the hands of the departed Dario Franchitti. Expectations are high for the car and the team that Mutoh has inherited. However, Hideki Mutoh is leading the point standings in the Bombardier Learjet Rookie race. Mutoh has considerable talent which he proved with a second place finish in the season standings for the Firestone Indy Lights Series. He captured two victories during the course of the year which included a daring last lap three wide pass at Kentucky Speedway.

Mutoh was very impressive at the Indianapolis 500 while bringing his Andretti Green Racing machine home in seventh place. Aside from the disaster in the season opener, Hideki Mutoh has not finished lower than 12th place this year. That speaks volumes to his skill level. Mutoh has not raced on some of the circuits with the power of an IndyCar Series car. He is forced to learn the tracks as well as the nuances of a powerful machine. Hideki came away from last week’s tussle at Texas Motor Speedway with a sixth place finish. A victory for Mutoh cannot be far away and you heard it here first.

Photo of Mutoh's Dallara/Honda charging around thew oval at Texas Motor Speedway courtesy of

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