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.
Josef Newgarden’s late surge to second-place in Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway has further solidified his number one ranking as the Verizon IndyCar Series closes out the oval section of its season this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis.
Only minor changes this week in the driver and team rankings, with Pocono race champion, Will Power and third-place finisher Alexander Rossi among those on the move upward.
- Team Penske (Unchanged)
Four in the top-seven at a venue where on paper, the Captain’s quartet looked to be at a disadvantage regarding horsepower. So much for those thoughts, and if the last three rounds follow the recent trend, expect another car owner’s trophy in the case at team headquarters after the Sonoma finale.
- Chip Ganassi Racing (+1)
Top-six placements were decent for Dixon and Kanaan, but an inability to make most of Honda engine prowess on high-speed ovals, could be the final nail in the Iceman’s championship hopes. Max Chilton’s DNF was the big disappointment as the Englishman was unable to back up his fourth-place finish at the Indy 500.
- Andretti Autosport (-1)
Rossi led the Honda assault at the Tricky Triangle, but the other three in the Andretti camp left a lot of change on the table. Ryan Hunter-Reay rebounded well from his qualifying crash to finish eighth, but he appeared to have a better car than the result would lead you to believe. Marco Andretti never factored and settled for 11th, while Takuma Sato’s pole-winning effort on Saturday was wasted in the opening stint. 13th at the checkered flag makes it only one top-ten in his last five starts.
- Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Unchanged)
The team was only able to salvage ninth at the flag, despite running up front early. Stays put at number four, but only because of everyone else in the rear view mirror is even more undesirable.
- Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (-1)
James Hinchcliffe managed to save his No. 5 Arrow Honda on one occasion, but was later eliminated by J.R. Hildebrand. Before that turn one incident, Hinch was mired in traffic and like at Indy, could not use the extra power from his Honda powerplant to his benefit. Sebastian Saavedra’s day also ended with turn one wall contact.
- Dale Coyne Racing (Unchanged)
Tough day for Ed Jones, who came home in 17th. Esteban Gutierrez’s first high-speed oval race did not last long as he was the first retirement. The return of Sebastien Bourdais cannot come soon enough.
- Ed Carpenter Racing (Unchanged)
Ed Carpenter’s 12th-place finish was much below expectations for a squad that is more equipped to challenge on ovals as opposed to road courses. Hildebrand was credited with 19th after his collision with Hinchcliffe.
- A.J. Foyt Racing (+1)
Carlos Munoz had a golden opportunity to challenge for a surprise victory due to the timing of the caution flags, but faded to tenth at the finish. Conor Daly also failed to feature, taking 14th.
- Harding Racing (-1)
Low attrition numbers made a top-ten result too tough to achieve for the newcomers. Still, a 15th-place finish as Gabby Chaves’ worst of 2017 is not a disaster for a relatively new operation.
- Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (=)
Season’s over, but 2018 Indianapolis 500 could be promising if the team continues the same course with Sage Karam. The driver-squad pairing seems perfect for one-off outings.
- Josef Newgarden (Unchanged)
Sixth or better in the past five races, a fact made even more impressive that four of those were either first or second-place. If the Tennesseean can avoid the bad result at St. Louis, Watkins Glen and Sonoma return to his wheel house – the road courses.
- Simon Pagenaud (Unchanged)
The Frenchman also advanced in the final laps to take fourth-place at Pocono. Only fourth on the points table at present, but could be the biggest threat to Newgarden’s title pursuit.
- Will Power (+3)
Three wins, albeit two coming on oval tracks. Power must regain prowess on road courses if he is to claim his second series title. The Australian will look back at the first three rounds as the reason he does not raise the trophy at Sonoma.
- Helio Castroneves (-1)
Seventh-place for the second consecutive event. While top-tens are far from doomsday, the Brazilian continues to lose precious ground to teammate Newgarden.
- Scott Dixon (-1)
The Iceman held his own early at Pocono as was required to stay in the hunt for his fifth championship. However, he had to achieve more than sixth-place. The odds of success are now definitely against him in the final three races.
- Alexander Rossi (+1)
Third-place represents a solid performance from start to finish at Pocono. With his future at Andretti Autosport in question, he must finish the season with a flourish in case free agency run is necessary.
- Graham Rahal (-2)
Ninth as mentioned above was not where the Ohioan was trending in the opening 100 laps. Missed opportunity at Pocono.
- Ryan Hunter-Reay (Unchanged)
Recovered well from an ugly accident in Saturday’s qualifying session to take the lead at one point on Sunday. Still, considering how strong his high-speed oval rides have been since his 2014 Indy 500 win, eighth is still a bit of a letdown.
- Tony Kanaan (Unranked)
Fifth-place is not a bad finish, but again the No. 10 Honda showed much more potential in the first half of the 500-mile distance on race day.
- Takuma Sato (-1)
If not for a lackluster group of contenders in the bottom half of the full-time fleet at this point of the 2017 season, the Indy 500 champion would have dropped out this week. Faded badly from the pole and could do no better than 13th on Sunday.
Dropped Out: James Hinchcliffe (Was No. 10 after Mid-Ohio)
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