Rookies Finish Solid Season

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The Indy Racing Northern Light Series rookie class of 2001 had a lot to live up to.

After Saturday’s season finale, it’s clear they didn’t feel any pressure as they raised a new bar for future rookies.

Felipe Giaffone led the seasonlong assault with a sixth-place finish in the points and 10 top-10 finishes. He won the rookie-of-the-year award, succeeding Airton Dare, who finished 16th in the points last season with just two top-10 finishes.

Giaffone wasn’t the only first-year driver to turn heads, though.

Galles Racing rookie Didier Andre had a fourth-place finish this season at Richmond, besting highly touted rookie teammate Casey Mears.

The real surprise came in Saturday’s season finale at Texas Motor Speedway, where Rick Treadway, Jon Herb and Laurent Redon all settled into the Top 11.

Treadway, driving the No. 5 G Force-Aurora for father Fred at Treadwday-Hubbard Racing, was a revelation. Coming from the USAC short-track ranks, he finished 17th and 14th in his first two IRNLS appearances. Although he was running at the finish of both races, he made little noise.

Saturday in the Chevy 500, Treadway finished fifth, but it might as well have been his first victory.

“This sure feels like a win,” said Treadway, who finished on the lead lap after starting 23rd. “We started almost last and at one point were two laps down. This is our first race with Big Tex and it's just a great showing for Coca-Cola and Chevy.

“We're really looking forward to next year.”

Jon Herb, another USAC graduate, was equally as happy after registering a ninth-place finish, his best showing in six races.

“It was a wonderful race,” said Herb, owner and driver of the No. 18 G Force-Aurora. “That's what racing is all about.

“We ran well enough to finish Top 5, but at the end we were having a problem with a right wheel. But overall it was a great day.”

Former Formula One test driver Laurent Redon just missed his second top-10 finish in his first two IRNLS appearances when his engine let go with 32 laps to go. He finished 11th in Conquest Racing’s No. 34 Dallara-Aurora, but he wasn’t exactly thrilled.

“To be running so strong in the race and then have the engine blow, it's heartbreaking,” he said. “My crew was great today. They repaired the car quickly in practice, gave me a fast car for the race and excellent pit stops. Next year should be very good.”

Again, next year rookies have a lot to live up to. This time, though, the expectations don't seem too high for the new batch of young guns.

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
TV Start:
NBCSN

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