Dario Franchitti claimed his fourth IndyCar Series Championship title. He went into the final race of the season leading Will Power by 18 points. However, the race and the season were both marred by a 15-car pile-up early in the race that claimed Wheldon's life. The race was abandoned after 12 completed laps and the final points total reverted to the previous event, with Franchitti winning the title.
On January 11, the series made several announcements with regards to the upcoming season:
The governing body adopted the doing business as name of INDYCAR (all capital letters). The legal entity remains Indy Racing League, LLC, and is specifically mentioned in the INDYCAR Rule Book.
The "restart zone" on ovals were moved from turn 3 to just before the start/finish line.
Restart procedures would mimic those of NASCAR, including double-file restarts, separate pitting for lead lap and non-lead lap cars, and the waving around of lapped cars that did not pit. The "free pass" rule would not be implemented.
Pit stall selection for each race would be determined by the qualifying order of the previous round at the track of the same type (e.g., road course or oval). Exceptions to this will be the season opener at St. Petersburg, which would be set by final entrants' points from 2010, and the Indy 500, which carries its own pit selection process.
On March 6, the series announced that the maximum field size for every IndyCar event this season would be limited to 26 cars, except for the Indianapolis 500 (which remains at the traditional 33) and the Las Vegas finale (34 cars).
Firestone has signed an extension to remain as the series' sole tire supplier through 2013.
The Octane Racing Group, who promotes the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada and the NASCAR Nationwide race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, will take over as promoters of the Honda Edmonton Indy, having agreed a three-year extension. The race was announced as "canceled" on November 3, 2010, due to an impasse in negotiations between the race promoters and the city of Edmonton. However, negotiations to revive the race restarted the next week. On November 26, 2010, the Edmonton, Alberta city council voted to restore the Honda Edmonton Indy using extra funding from private sources and new parking revenue. INDYCAR officially announced the race's return to the schedule on January 11, 2011.
Team Penske: Shell would join the team as an associate sponsor for all three cars in 2011, replacing Mobil 1 and will sponsor the #3 car.Hélio Castroneves was signed to a multi-year contract that covers the 2011 season, and Will Power re-signed with Team Penske in September 2010. Roger Penske confirmed on November 12 that Ryan Briscoe would also be returning to the team.Izod was announced as being the primary sponsor on Ryan Briscoe's car and an associate sponsor on the other two cars.
Andretti Autosport: Tony Kanaan was signed to a multi-year deal with Andretti Autosport before the 2009 season, and his contract is supposed to run through to 2012. On the October 3 it was confirmed that sponsor 7-Eleven would not return in 2011, rendering Kanaan a free agent. Marco Andretti was in the second year of a four-year contract with the team in 2011 along with his sponsor Venom Energy. It was announced on October 29 that Ryan Hunter-Reay would return to Andretti Autosport through to the 2012 season.DHL has signed a multi-year deal to sponsor Hunter-Reay's #28 car.Mike Conway was announced on February 2 as the team's 4th full-season driver. The team has confirmed John Andretti in the #43 for the Indy 500.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports: Driver Alex Tagliani was in the second year of a four-year contract with the team. The team would also run cars for Townsend Bell and Jay Howard at the Indy 500, and for Wade Cunningham in three events. The team was committed to running a second full-time car in 2011, according to manager Rob Edwards. On March 1, 2011, it was announced that Sam Schmidt Motorsports had purchased the assets of FAZZT. Some FAZZT personnel would be retained for the 2011 season and Alex Tagliani will continue to contest all seventeen races.
Bryan Herta Autosport: The team confirmed Dan Wheldon for the Indy 500. Bryan Herta Autosport and Wheldon would carry out testing of the 2012 Dallara chassis in August and September 2011.
Dragon Racing: Tony Kanaan was announced as the new driver of the #2 car during a December 20 press conference in Brazil, however failure to secure sufficient sponsorship meant that Kanaan was unable to secure the drive. The team officially announced that they were shutting down on February 24, 2011; however following a restructuring, Jay Penske announced that Dragon Racing would continue with Paul Tracy for a limited schedule, as well as an Indy 500 entry. On May 3, 2011, the team confirmed Ho-Pin Tung would be the driver of the #8 Dragon-Schmidt Racing entry.
KV Racing Technology–Lotus: On September 28, 2010, it was announced that Lotus would provide sponsorship to two KV Racing Technology entries in 2011. On February 4, 2011, KV Racing confirmed that Takuma Sato and E. J. Viso would compete for the team for the 2011 IndyCar Series season. On March 21, 2011, it was reported that Tony Kanaan would join the team in a 3rd full-time entry.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing: On November 11, Justin Wilson announced he would continue racing with the team in 2011. On March 3, 2011, the team announced Ana Beatriz would be joining Wilson full-time as the pilot of the #24 entry. The team also confirmed Paul Tracy for the Indy 500, prior to his signing to drive part-time for Dragon Racing.
Dale Coyne Racing: The team announced two new drivers for the season: rookie Englishman James Jakes, who would run the full season; and Sébastien Bourdais, who would run at all road and street courses only owing to his Le Mans Series commitments. The team would still be fielding a second car at Indianapolis. On May 5, 2011, it was confirmed that Alex Lloyd would compete on all the oval races, as Bourdais won't.
AFS Racing: On January 13, 2011, AFS Racing announced that Neil Micklewright would be joining the team as General Manager and Vice President of Operations. On March 12, 2011, the team announced that they would run an entry at St. Petersburg, and on March 17, announced that series veteran Raphael Matos will drive.
Summary: The first race featuring the new double-file restarts takes a toll on the field as drivers adjust. On the first lap, a big collision involving several cars saw Marco Andretti flip over in turn 1, a crash he blamed on Hélio Castroneves. Several other drivers experienced contact on restarts, thinning the field. Dario Franchitti stayed in front for most of the race and won the season opener. Simona de Silvestro garnered the most attention of the later stages of the race, as she hotly challenged Tony Kanaan. Kanaan, who had landed his ride with KV Racing just days earlier, held her off over the final few laps for a surprising third-place finish.
Summary: With less than 20 laps to go, Mike Conway charged into third place on a restart. He quickly powered past Dario Franchitti and Will Power to take the lead. Conway pulled out to a six-second advantage, and led the final 14 laps en route to his first Indy car victory. For the second time this season, Hélio Castroneves was blamed for a collision, this time taking himself and teammate Will Power out of contention late in the race.
Summary: Rain forced a postponement of the race after 15 laps. On Monday morning, the race resumed. Leader Will Power pitted for fuel on lap 36, giving the lead to Takuma Sato. With rain soaking the course, Sato's team hoped to stretch out their fuel window in hopes of a caution, and the possibility of leading the race when the time limit expired. Sato was forced to pit on lap 48, and Power retook the lead. The race ended after 55 laps with Power the victor.
Summary: Ganassi teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti led 124 laps, but the race came down to the final few laps as several drivers pitted for fuel. Rookie J. R. Hildebrand took the lead with three laps to go, and led at the white flag. Coming out of the final turn on the final lap, Hildebrand hit the outside wall, and Dan Wheldon drove by to take the victory, which would turn out to be his last.
Summary: The popular "twin race" format from the 1970s and early 1980s returned to Indy car racing at Texas. Dario Franchitti dominated the first race, which saw only one caution. Wade Cunningham and Charlie Kimball crashed on lap 92, with Cunningham crashing Dan Wheldon's Indy 500 winning car from two weeks prior. At halftime, the drivers chose their starting positions for race #2 by a blind draw on a stage on the frontstretch. Tony Kanaan was the lucky driver who picked position number 1. Will Power picked starting position #3, but the winner of the first race, Franchitti, was mired back in 28th starting position. Controversy followed the race, as many in the paddock believed the blind draw was an unfair method to select the starting positions (many thought they should have simply inverted the field). The second race went without a caution, and Power went on to win. Franchitti was not a factor, but charged all the way to 7th at the finish.
Summary: Tony Kanaan led 33 laps in the second half, but crashed into the turn 4 wall with only 30 laps to go. Leader Hélio Castroneves was forced to the pits on lap 199 to change a flat tire, giving the lead, and the win, to Dario Franchitti.
Summary: Marco Andretti charged from 17th starting position to second by lap 152. Andretti passed Dario Franchitti to take the lead on lap 157. After a pit stop, Andretti dueled with Tony Kanaan for the lead over the final 50–60 laps, with Andretti taking the lead for good on lap 232.
Summary: At least 18 cars were involved in scuffles and contact throughout the race, with six dropping out. On lap 56, Dario Franchitti clipped wheels with leader Will Power in the hairpin, causing Power to spin out. Franchitti slipped by to take the lead, and held on to win. Power was visibly upset because it was reported that race-control penalized Franchitti for it and reversed the penalty. However competition director Al Unser Jr. said he did not penalize Franchitti at all because it was a racing incident.
Summary: The race took place on a new layout for 2011. On the first lap, Alex Tagliani made contact with Graham Rahal as the field negotiated the tight turn 5, which took out four cars. Later in the race, Ryan Hunter-Reay tangled with polesitter Takuma Sato, also in turn 5. Will Power took the lead on lap 20, and Penske managed a 1-2 finish.
Summary: Scott Dixon edged teammate Dario Franchitti down the backstretch on a restart on lap 61, and held on to win at Mid-Ohio for the third time in five seasons. Will Power dropped to 14th after getting caught out under a full-course caution during a sequence of pit stops.
Indy car racing returned to New Hampshire after a 13-year sabbatical. Dario Franchitti dominated the first half, but on a restart on lap 118, he touched wheels with Takuma Sato and crashed into the inside wall. On lap 206, the caution came out for rain, with Ryan Hunter-Reay leading. Despite the drivers pleading to their crews that the track was too wet to continue, officials decided to bring the green flag out with 7 laps to go. As the field accelerated, Danica Patrick spun on the frontstretch due to the wet conditions, which led to a controversial five-car pileup, involving championship contender Will Power among others. During the restart attempt, Oriol Servià passed Hunter-Reay as the restart began but before the caution was signaled, leading to controversy when the decision was made to abort the restart, a move common in USAC when a false start occurs, which typically means the cars return to their starting order for another start attempt. Officials accepted blame for the decision and red flagged the race. Scoring was reverted to the standings prior to the restart attempt.
Within 30 minutes of the end of the race, Newman/Haas Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing filed protests regarding the finish of the race because of Servià's pass of Hunter-Reay on the aborted restart. The results of the race were not made official, and as a result of the protest, the finish was under review. Indy Racing League, LLC announced on August 16 that a hearing was scheduled for the week of August 22 on both protests filed, and the hearing would also include Andretti Autosport, as the results of the hearing may have resulted in the finishing order being changed. The hearing took place on August 23, with the finishing positions being upheld.
Summary: The inaugural IndyCar race in Baltimore saw a large crowd, and a challenging course, with many deeming the race a popular success. Will Power led 70 of 75 laps en route to a dominating victory, closing the points lead to only 5 points with three races remaining. During practice, Tony Kanaan lost his brakes, touched wheels with Hélio Castroneves' car, and jumped over his car into the tire barrier. Kanaan was unhurt, but was forced to start the race from the rear in a back-up car, which he drove to a 3rd-place finish. On lap 38, Ryan Briscoe clipped Ryan Hunter-Reay's car in the hairpin, creating a chain reaction pileup that involved or blocked as many as 18 cars.
Summary:Scott Dixon led 62 of 63 laps, dominating the final Indycar race at Twin Ring Motegi. Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the race was moved to the 2.98 mile road course due to damage to the oval. On lap 26, points leader Dario Franchitti tangled with Ryan Briscoe, causing a spin that also collected Graham Rahal. Franchitti was penalized for the move, and sent to the rear of the field. He worked his way back up to an 8th-place finish. Will Power's second-place finish allowed him to clinch the 2011 Mario Andretti Road Course Trophy, and took the lead (+5 points) in the overall points standing with two races left.
Race Summary: Ed Carpenter battled Dario Franchitti side by side over the final 20 laps, and held off Franchitti to earn his first-career IndyCar Series victory. Polesitter Will Power entered the race with the championship lead – 11 points over Franchitti – and led the first 48 laps. However, during a pit stop on lap 49, Ana Beatriz made contact with his car as she was exiting her pit stall, ripping a gash in Power's sidepod. Power came home in 19th, and second-place Franchitti took over the points lead going into the final race of the season.
Summary: The race was marred by a 15-car pileup on the 11th lap and four drivers – Dan Wheldon, Will Power, J. R. Hildebrand and Pippa Mann – were taken to the hospital while the race was red-flagged. The race was abandoned two hours later with the announcement that Wheldon had died from his injuries, and the remaining drivers completed a five-lap salute to honor Wheldon's memory. Power was later released from the hospital, while Mann and Hildebrand were kept under observation, but were later released. Mann suffered a burn to her hand and Hildebrand suffered a bruised sternum. IndyCar does not use the FIA Code on race stoppages (which states a race is official once a race is on the fourth lap) and uses the customary 50% plus one lap rule (101 laps in this case). The race results were stricken from the record book, and the statistics did not count. Franchitti was declared the series champion, although he would have won the championship anyway had the race continued since Power suffered injuries in the crash.
Any driver who qualifies but does not start (DNS), earns half the points had they taken part.
RY Rookie of the Year
Extra points awarded for qualifying at Indianapolis based on drivers performance.
Texas is split into two races on the same day. Each one awards half points.
Ties in points broken by number of wins, followed by number of 2nds, 3rds, etc., and then by number of pole positions, followed by number of times qualified 2nd, etc.
1 After qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 had concluded, Bruno Junqueira was replaced by Ryan Hunter-Reay, who did not qualify for the 500. Junqueira received full qualifying points for a 19th place qualification. 2 At the Las Vegas Indy 300, Dan Wheldon died from injuries sustained in a 15-car crash on lap 11. The race was abandoned, the results were stricken from the record book, and the statistics did not count.