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.
Simon Pagenaud posted a top-five at the Brickyard last weekend, to go alongside his win last month in Phoenix. However, it was Team Penske teammate Will Power who dominated the proceedings to earn his second IndyCar Grand Prix victory.
Andretti Autosport showed signs of life ahead of the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500, with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi posting top-ten efforts in the GP. So where does this leave things ahead of the big show? Read on to find out.
1. Team Penske (No Change)
Good stuff from Power, Pagenaud, and Helio Castroneves last weekend, but not so much concerning Josef Newgarden or Juan Pablo Montoya. Multiple speeding penalties ruined Newgarden’s performance, while growing pains with the new fifth entry held back Montoya.
2. Chip Ganassi Racing (No Change)
Scott Dixon drove a flawless race, but still placed second behind Power. If Honda is indeed the engine to have on the 2.5–mile oval as opposed to the road course, another sterling run in the Indy 500 and a second facial appearance on the Borg-Warner Trophy could be in order. Breakthrough effort from Max Chilton draws a little attention, at least more than what Tony Kanaan or Charlie Kimball could muster.
3. Andretti Autosport (+2)
OK, we are back in business. Ryan Hunter-Reay surged late to grab third-place at the checkered flag, and Alexander Rossi begins his Indy 500 title defense with a top-ten. Not great, but not bad. Early collision with TK kept Marco Andretti out of the mix, while Takuma Sato had too much to do from the last starting position, but did come home in 12th. Momentum is trending upward for the first time in weeks.
4. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (-1)
The IndyCar Grand Prix was a throwaway race for both James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin. Hinch placed 13th and the Russian took 18th. If Fast Friday is indeed a washout as weather forecasters currently believe, it could be tough to project their actual placing looking ahead to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing
5. Ed Carpenter Racing (+1)
Too bad Spencer Pigot is not in the plans for ECR at the big one. The 2015 Indy Lights Presented By Cooper Tires champion, drove his way to ninth-place in the IndyCar GP, a run that could have been much improved if an early stalling on the pit lane had been avoided. Not much from J.R. Hildebrand last weekend, but it is evident the Californian did not come to IMS for the road course event. Hopefully, the same focus is present from the team boss too.
6. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (+1)
Graham Rahal has the IndyCar GP figured out. Three straight top-ten finishes attest to that statement. Conquering the Indy 500 is another story. I still think Oriol Servia is the key to grabbing something nice in the big dance.
7. Dale Coyne Racing (-3)
If DCR’s best chance to get something from the month of May was the IndyCar Grand Prix, they might leave the Indianapolis Motor Speedway empty-handed. An early retirement from Sebastien Bourdais and nothing special from Ed Jones last weekend. The news can’t be much better if you are a Pippa Mann-supporter at this junction.
8. A.J. Foyt Racing (No Change)
The first half of the IndyCar GP was friendly to Conor Daly, but the second half was downright nasty. A 17th-place represents another bitter pill to swallow for the Hoosier State star. Carlos Munoz was also invisible last weekend.
9. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (No Change)
The combination of DRR and Sage Karam can cut it against the big boys. 31st to ninth in 2014 and a brief surge into the top-ten last year justifies their placement as the group most likely to rattle the full-timers club this month.
10. Juncos Racing (Unranked)
The presence of Pigot, plus a determined Sebastian Saavedra is enough to move Juncos onto the list over Harding Racing and their pilot Gabby Chaves.
Dropped Out: Harding Racing (was No. 10 after Phoenix)
1. Scott Dixon (No Change)
Five for five concerning top-tens and not Arby’s roast beef sandwiches. If he is not the favorite for the 101st Indy 500, something is off.
2. Will Power (+2)
Two good results and the train is back on track. Nearly won the big show in 2015 and should be in contention on Memorial Day weekend.
3. Simon Pagenaud (+2)
The Frenchman has avoided the No. 1 jinx so far. A win in two weeks, and placement at the top of the pyramid could be in order.
4. Josef Newgarden (-2)
Somehow, the Grand Prix of Alabama champion managed to get three pit road speeding tickets in one sitting Saturday. If he was clearing out the bad luck cabinet in advance of the Indy 500, it should be empty by now.
5. Helio Castroneves (+2)
A bad strategy call denied the Brazilian a well-deserved second-place on Saturday. Another near-miss at the Indy 500 will motivate the three-time champion to become a four-time winner even more.
6. Sebastien Bourdais (-3)
If Dale Coyne Racing has something up their sleeve for May 28th, an early teaser on the qualifying weekend would be a suggestion.
7. James Hinchcliffe (-2)
Hinch wrote a great comeback story by taking the pole position last year. A repeat showing will be tough to come by in 2017.
8. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Unranked)
RHR appears to have a bee, or a full hive to be exact, in his basket this month of May at IMS. Third-place in the IndyCar GP should threaten to top that output in two weeks.
9. Alexander Rossi (No Change)
Rossi made the top-ten last weekend, but a fall from contention in the second half leaves some unanswered questions.
10. Tony Kanaan (-2)
TK’s IndyCar GP effort was trashed on lap one for the second straight year. Will at least contend for a top-five finish in two weeks time.
Dropped Out: J.R. Hildebrand (Was No. 10 after Phoenix)
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