Throughout the season, POPULAR SPEED will rank the top-10 drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series following each event. Feel free to comment on the story at the POPULAR SPEED Facebook page.
Will Power’s second career win at Texas Motor Speedway, leaves some questions to be answered. Was this a legitimate win? The Australian dominated, but was that due to a superior car or high attrition? Also, is this a reversal toward Chevrolet as opposed to Honda, who was ruled the recent winner’s circle appearances?
For now, Power gets the nod on our newest driver’s list, as last year’s surge for the Team Penske road course ace began at this point of the campaign.
Accordingly, the team rankings favor the Captain’s quartet likewise, a position they have held for several weeks, based largely on early season prowess on the non-oval layouts.
1. Team Penske (No Change)
Along with Will Power controlling the proceedings, Simon Pagenaud also made the podium in third-place. Josef Newgarden and Helio Castroneves fell victim to the SAFER barriers on Saturday night, but that’s not the stuff to move them off the number one line.
2. Chip Ganassi Racing (No Change)
Not a friend-making performance Saturday night from Tony Kanaan, but a runner-up finish is not diminished in terms of championship points. Scott Dixon was on the verge of joining TK at the checkered, but settled for ninth after getting swept up in the race-ending incident. Disappointing performances for both Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball. The Englishman was not the front-running force he was at the Indianapolis 500 and placed eighth. Kimball meanwhile, looked solid after taking the Verizon P1 Award on Friday, only to drop-out soon after the start due to mechanical maladies.
3. Andretti Autosport (No Change)
Takuma Sato’s late-race collision prevented another possible podium finish, yet outside of that Texas was a “what might have been” effort. Marco Andretti did come home in sixth, but never made a serious impact. Ryan Hunter-Reay was eliminated in the big one, while Alexander Rossi’s three-wide foray early on led to him being the first arrival at the post-race party.
4. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (No Change)
Graham Rahal found a way to avoid the attrition that removed many from the Rainguard 600 on Saturday night, securing a fourth-place finish. Not quite the stuff to jump past Andretti in the poll, but if Rahal shows the pace from Detroit at Road America, that will change.
5. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (+1)
It is tough to say if James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin were contenders for the win on Saturday night, as of course the big mess ended the conversation. However, the glimpses of pace provides hope for the next few rounds.
6. Dale Coyne Racing (-1)
No matter who drives the No. 18 Honda, it seems to be a factor. Unfortunately, accidents at both Indy and Texas prevented Sebastien Bourdais, James Davison, and Tristan Vautier from getting the coveted result. Not a strong run though from Ed Jones; that’s the reason they drop a notch on the list.
7. Harding Racing (+1)
This organization is gaining confidence following a fifth-place result for Gabby Chaves at Texas. Two starts, two top-tens. Whether success continues at the team’s next race at Pocono is anyone’s guess, but they could be dangerous if they do go full-time in 2018.
8. Ed Carpenter Racing (-1)
Even before getting caught up in the eight-car pileup at Texas, neither Ed Carpenter or J.R. Hildebrand showed any signs of being able to win the race. Road America is not the place for a triumphant moment for this team, unless something bizarre happens, like the Earth falling out of orbit for instance.
9. A.J. Foyt Racing (No Change)
Sure, Conor Daly finished seventh, but based solely on survival. Once again, nothing positive shown by the Hoosier-native, nor from Carlos Munoz at Texas.
10. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (=)
Season’s over for DRR pending a surprise entry later this year. Still, its sister team Harding Racing is stealing the spotlight from some of the full-time regulars.
Dropped Out: None
1. Will Power (+3)
Dixon has the better results to date, but intuition says the Aussie is ready to begin his championship challenge. Three of the next four events are road courses, and if Team Penske regains their muscle from a season ago, Power becomes a greater threat.
2. Scott Dixon (-1)
Time to temporarily drop the Kiwi down a rung this week. The momentum is not in the Iceman’s corner, at least not in Texas.
3. Josef Newgarden (No Change)
The big crashes have kept the Tennessean from snatching top-tens at both Indy and Texas, but the future projections put Newgarden ahead of both Castroneves and Pagenaud. Still, a ways to go reach Power, however.
4. Helio Castroneves (-2)
An early exit at Texas hurts, but the fact the Brazilian continues to squander front row starting positions on road circuits is a red flag. If he could not get the results consistently in the season’s first half, why would that change in the final eight? Based on that, Spider-Man loses two spots.
5. Takuma Sato (+2)
One false move near the finish at Texas cost the Japanese trailblazer a possible top-three effort. The big thing story though tells all; the Indy 500 victory was NOT a fluke. He goes up another two places on the list this week.
6. Simon Pagenaud (-1)
Third at Texas, second on the points table, but only sixth here? Pags has to improve his qualifying record on road courses to stay in the mix for back-to-back titles. Not only does the Frenchman give himself too much to do, but he puts himself in the line of fire in the mad mid-pack scrambles at the start. Sooner or later, smart money says an early exit based on that could result.
7. Graham Rahal (+2)
Rahal has an ability to finish the high-speed oval races in ways the rest of the IndyCar fleet cannot match, at least not over the past three seasons. If the No. 15 Honda matches the performance from Detroit, it could be a tough go for the field at Elkhart Lake.
8. Alexander Rossi (-2)
Rossi did not use good judgement going three-wide so early in the process at Texas, and was dealt a last-place finish as punishment. He should regain original placement if trouble does not follow to Wisconsin’s four-mile parkway.
9. Tony Kanaan (Unranked)
Far from a squeaky clean effort at Texas, yet TK made it to the finish and came away with a runner-up finish. The veteran though, is not a sign of strength on road courses and must re-invent himself next week to stay in the polls for more than one race.
10. James Hinchcliffe (No Change)
The Mayor showed glimpses of hope prior to his elimination at Texas; however, there are several candidates who could bump him out following Road America, including this week’s top-ten absentee Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Dropped Out: Ryan Hunter-Reay (Was No. 8 after Detroit)
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