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.
If the Honda had an advantage over Chevrolet. it was refuted this weekend as Team Penske dominated the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. After taking the top three places in qualifying, their domination continued on Sunday. Although Will Power finished 14th after suffering a flat tire, his teammate Josef Newgarden was able to take the victory. The case supporting Team Penske is further solidified as Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves finished third and fourth, respectively.
While Team Penske retains the top spot for a second straight race, Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon maintain their placings in the Driver Rankings. Bourdais salvaged a difficult day in Alabama by finishing eighth, while Dixon chased Power and Newgarden from start to finish, to place second.
1. Team Penske (No Change)
After some doubts were raised after Long Beach, the Captain’s quartet was strong at Barber Motorsports Park. If Chevrolet continues to make progress in closing the edge shown by Honda in rounds one and two, a repeat of 2016 could be possible.
2. Chip Ganassi Racing (+1)
Scott Dixon was unable to keep Newgarden behind him after gaining track position following the final round of pit stops. Despite the shortcoming, the Iceman moves closer Bourdais in the championship standings. Decent showing from Tony Kanaan nets the Brazilian a top–ten, while Max Chilton finished 12th. Questionable decision to stay out under the final caution did not payoff for Charlie Kimball, who had to pit under green and settled for 15th.
3. Dale Coyne Racing (-1)
Both Sebastien Bourdais and Ed Jones advanced out of the first phase of qualifying on Saturday, but things went south afterward. Bourdais never got the strategy breaks required to move up from 12th and settled for an eighth-place finish. Jones did not show signs of a good run after the first round of pit stops and finished 16th. Comments from Craig Hampson looking ahead to Phoenix did not show confidence, either.
4. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (No Change)
Hinchcliffe was unable to keep pace with the Penske and Ganassi runners upfront and then lost out to a clever strategy play by Alexander Rossi. Still, a sixth-place finish does not cause much damage to the Mayor’s hopes to contend for a high placing in the championship. Mikhail Aleshin enjoyed his best run of the season to date with a tenth-place finish, albeit earned with an aggressive final lap pass of Ryan Hunter-Reay at the Charlotte’s Web hairpin.
5. Andretti Autosport (No Change)
Sunday started badly when Marco Andretti suffered mechanical woes before the start and finished 21st. Alexander Rossi was able to make the finish as opposed to Long Beach, coming home in fifth-place. Quiet runs from Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay netted ninth and eleventh-place finishes respectively. Not the disaster that Long Beach turned out to be, but still behind their fellow Honda runners.
6. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (No Change)
13th-place is all Graham Rahal could manage at Barber this past weekend. Interesting comments from the second-generation driver claiming in an interview with motorsport.com that his team cannot compete with the multi-car entrants. This view comes despite Rahal winning races in each of the past two seasons without the aid of teammates.
7. Ed Carpenter Racing (No Change)
Bad luck prevented Spencer Pigot from earning his second consecutive top-ten finish at Alabama. Zach Veach stayed out of trouble and despite finishing only 19th in his IndyCar debut, he should be better from it looking ahead to the 101st Indianapolis 500 next month.
8. A.J. Foyt Racing (No Change)
Any momentum gained from Carlos Munoz’s top-ten effort at Long Beach, did not follow F0yt’s boys to Alabama. Neither the Colombian nor Conor Daly ran among the top half of the field, finishing 17th and 18th respectively.
1. Sebastien Bourdais (No Change)
Alabama was a case of creating something out of nothing for the Frenchman. Unable to move up via pit strategy, Bourdais fought hard to secure an eighth-place finish. Not spectacular, but enough to remain on top.
2. Scott Dixon (+1)
A runner-up finish in Alabama is enough to jump the New Zealander ahead of Hinchcliffe this week. Not quite enough though to pass Bourdais. Phoenix could change that however.
3. Josef Newgarden (+3)
A removal of pressure after the Long Beach podium was evidenced at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday. Big charge from seventh to second in the first stint put him in contention and the Tenneseee-based pilot was present to take advantage of Will Power’s misfortune late. Third in the points standings and third in the power rankings heading to Phoenix.
4. James Hinchcliffe (-2)
Hinch started sixth and finished sixth. Considering the muscle shown by Team Penske, that’s not as bad as it sounds. Still, a drop in the rankings is needed.
5. Will Power (No Change)
Power did nothing wrong at Alabama and still suffered a flat tire, costing him a sure victory. The performance before the problem makes it impossible for me to move him further down the list.
6. Simon Pagenaud (-2)
Dropped two places after finishing third?!? I don’t agree with it either, however Pagenaud was unable to hold off Newgarden and never challenged for the lead from start to finish. So reluctantly, the defending series champion falls two spots.
7. Helio Castroneves (+1)
Spider-Man couldn’t match the pace he showed in qualifying, however a fourth-place finish is not means for condemnation. Therefore, he moves up one place in the rankings.
8. Alexander Rossi (Not Ranked)
Karma rewarded him Sunday after issues not of his own doing plagued him at Long Beach. Defending Indianapolis 500 champion joins the top–ten, as the Brickyard draws closer.
9. Ryan Hunter-Reay (-2)
Nothing special from the Andretti Autosport driver this weekend. 11th-place finish drops him two notches this week.
10. Spencer Pigot (-1)
Pigot is number two on the “Bad Luck Suffered” list behind Will Power. He was as running in the top-ten on Sunday when his Fuzzy’s Chevrolet stalled on the track, relegating him to a 20th-place finish. Effort has been there, luck has not.
Dropped Out: Ed Jones (No. 10 Post-Long Beach)
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