After 12 years of grueling anticipation, Tony Kanaan won the 2013 Indy 500 in dramatic fashion. After finally crossing the finish line, the racing world embraced Kanaan and collectively congratulated him, via ESPN, on a hard-fought victory.
During the course of the race, however, it was another driver that proved to be IndyCar's star of the future—Marco Andretti.
If you recognize the name, it comes with good reason, as Andretti is the latest in the line of racing's most decorated family. Grandfather Mario Andretti set the stage for glory, while father Michael Andretti is decorated in his own right.
With forebears experiencing success, the pressure was on the latest generation of Andretti racers to prove his worth—and that's exactly what he did.
After the 2013 Indy 500, Andretti leads all IndyCar racers with 168 points for the season, having pulled out top-10 finishes in each of his first five races. That includes two top-five finishes, which set the stage for a breakout performance at the Indy 500.
And that's what we witnessed, as Andretti finished fourth and led 31 laps—a significant upgrade over last year's race.
In 2012, Marco Andretti started fourth and led 59 laps at the Indianapolis 500. Despite his marvelous start, Andretti's inexperience got the best of him, thus resulting in a 24th-place finish in a race that he appeared capable of winning.
One year later, Andretti proved just how far he's come.
He finished 20 spots higher than a year ago, displaying poise that kept him in the chase from start to finish. While he eventually fell short of a victory, Andretti proved that the ability is there, and name value is only a piece of the puzzle.
The true glory is in the upside.
At 26, Andretti has more than a mile of future ahead of him, per say, in his IndyCar racing career. If there's anyone that proves such to be true, it's Tony Kanaan—the man who just won the Indy 500.
The man who won the event at 38 years of age.
As previously acknowledged, Marco Andretti has experienced the hottest start of any IndyCar driver.
All that's left is the victory to push him over the edge.
Even if he were to see victory evade him, Andretti is in prime position to win the 2013 IndyCar title, owning 168 points to date. He's 11 points ahead of second-place Takuma Sato, who owns a victory and three top-10 finishes.
Sato finished 13th at the Indianapolis 500.
Achieving victory will be nothing short of a difficult achievement for Andretti, regardless of where he races. With that being said, no driver has been as consistent as the 26-year-old, which is a stunning truth considering his age and inexperience.
A top-five finish at the 2013 Indy 500 simply solidifies his status as IndyCar's star of the future.