How do you climb into the Izod IndyCar Series power rankings after failing to make the list in the first round? Simple, win the biggest race of the year. Tony Kanaan received honorable mention in the first edition and this time he cracks the top 10.
The popular driver from Brazil wasn’t the only new face on the list. Simon Pagenaud has reeled off four straight top 10 results and makes the grade.
Others were not so fortunate. Understandably after a couple of disappointing efforts in the month of May, Graham Rahal drops out. As does Simona de Silvestro and hanging on by a thread or rather his second-place finish at Barber, his only top five result of the entire season is Will Power.
So yes after a couple of races there are not only two new competitors on the list but also a new number one.
1. Marco Andretti.
I’m convinced, Marco is a new man. Off-season coaching and a noticeable personal maturity put him on top. The only driver to finish top 10 in every race this year. He had a real shot to win Indy but fell short. He will win before the season is done.
2. Helio Castroneves.
Down one spot but still proving he is one of the series veterans that can perform at a high level while others are struggling.
3. Takuma Sato.
They had some difficulty at Indy but that may have been because the team was also fielding a car for rookie Conor Daly. With all the focus back on Sato alone the rest of the way look for them to continue to run strong.
4. Ryan Hunter-Reay.
He just missed the top 10 in Brazil, led laps at Indy and was in position to take a shot at the win if not for the final caution. He’s looked like a champion so far this season.
5. Justin Wilson.
I called him Mr. consistent in the first rankings, he had a hiccup in Brazil but bounced back with a very strong 500 climbing from 14th at the start to score a fifth-place result.
6. Scott Dixon.
The performance of the Target team has been on a slide and Dixon slides down the rankings. I’m not really sure what exactly is wrong with Dixon and his teammate Franchitti, but if things don’t improve it’s going to be a very long season.
7. James Hinchcliffe.
We leave Hinch exactly where he was on the previous list. One great finish in Brazil, and a disappointing Indy. Oh to be consistent. But that Sato pass was the move of the year, maybe decade.
8. Simon Pagenaud.
This guy is good. Pagenaud is technically sound, and after getting out of the gate slowly in St. Petersburg they have finished in the top ten at every race since, and there’s no reason to think it won’t continue.
9. Will Power.
Trouble seems to find him. A goofy crash in the season opener, his car just stops working after a charge from the back in Brazil. After a good run in the early stages he faded all the way to 19th in the 500. Strange times indeed at Team Penske.
10. Tony Kanaan.
I wanted to rank him higher but couldn’t. Tony had a great result at St. Pete but hadn’t been running too well prior to his win at the Brickyard.
A month from now these rankings could look very different. After an all-consuming two weeks in Indianapolis there is no letup in the schedule. Teams are back in action this weekend with the year’s first doubleheader as they run two races on Belle Isle in Detroit. Then it’s back to the ovals for three straight events with stops in Texas, Milwaukee and Iowa before anyone gets a weekend off.
This busy summer is about to begin and how teams handle the grind will have a big impact on whether or not it’s a successful year of competition.