IndyCar Power Rankings: Indy 500
Throughout the season, POPULAR OPEN WHEEL will rank the drivers and teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Feel free to comment on the story at the POPULAR OPEN WHEEL Facebook page.
Will Power has finally removed the road course specialist tag from his Verizon IndyCar Series resume.
After a dominating performance in the second half to win his first Indianapolis 500 Sunday, the Australian is the hottest driver on the circuit and will arrive at The Raceway at Belle Isle near Detroit as a likely pre-race favorite.
Scott Dixon has also moved up the list following a decent third-place effort in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, while Alexander Rossi maintains the number one position after a 28 spot improvement from the opening green flag to come home fourth.
So with the post-Indy 500 half of the schedule ready to get rolling, here’s the current driver and team polls.
1) Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport (Unchanged since IndyCar GP): Poor handling ruined time trials for the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda pilot, but some aggressive moves on the restarts Sunday vaulted him into contention for a second Indy 500 triumph. Nevertheless, a well-earned fourth at the checkered flag secures his No. 1 ranking looking ahead to the Motor City doubleheader.
2) Will Power, Team Penske (+2): With a sweep of the May events at Indianapolis, the Australian enters Detroit with a big burst of energy. With a plethora of road courses left on the slate, the path to a second Verizon IndyCar Series championship is wide-open.
3) Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing (+2): The Iceman did not have the fastest car at Indy, but was able to salvage his month of May with a third-place effort. Work to do for a fifth series crown is to be earned, but any positive strides are a welcome sight considering the number of unforced errors encountered by the New Zealander in 2018.
4) Josef Newgarden, Team Penske (-2): Was unable to take advantage of a stronger Chevrolet engine in the way his teammates did at the Brickyard. Should recover somewhat in Motown this weekend, but adversity is present for the first time in his title defense.
5) Robert Wickens, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (-2): The Canadian newcomer did just enough to earn Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors, but like his SPM comrades, a lack of competitiveness was eerily present at the famous two and a half-mile oval. Will be a greater force at Detroit.
6) Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing (-2): Great qualifying outing was wasted by a watered down showing on race day, culminating in a turn four accident that ended his first Indy 500 in two years. DCR has had some good vibes at Belle Isle in years past, so the Frenchman could challenge in both races this weekend.
7) Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (+1): Whether RLL is spreading themselves too thin is a question mark. However, it is clear that at some point Rahal will not be able to overcome his weakness in qualifying. Escaped with a top-ten at Indy, but this cannot last forever, right?
8) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport (+1): Was not as big a factor as he normally is at 16th and Georgetown, but another solid output keeps him within sight of the top runners on the current championship chart.
9) Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske (+1): Came away empty-handed at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, but the 2016 series king may be primed for a breakthrough starting sooner than later.
10) Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport (New Entry): The third-generation chauffeur returns to the countdown, but only following James Hinchcliffe’s unexpected failure to qualify and Tony Kanaan’s late-race exit. 12th is not the same disaster, but a repeat at Belle Isle will not keep him on the chart in seven days time.
Dropped Out: James Hinchcliffe (Was No. 7 after IndyCar GP)
1) Team Penske (Unchanged): Heartbreak for Helio Castroneves, who crashed out of the Indy 500 for only the second time in his career. Will Power’s dominant drive, however, protects the Captain’s spot at the head of the class for another week.
2) Andretti Autosport (Unchanged): An incredible charge from 32nd on the grid to P4 for Alexander Rossi, alongside strong outings from both Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz, and a near steal of the victory via fuel mileage from Stefan Wilson keeps the top Honda outfit as best of the rest heading for Belle Isle.
3) Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (+1): Graham Rahal’s plus-20 comeback was a bright spot, as was Oriol Servia’s late strategy call that at worst netted a top-half of the order finish. An unavoidable turn three collision with James Davison ruined Takuma Sato’s shot at defending his Indy 500 title, continuing a frustrating 2018 for the Japanese star.
4) Chip Ganassi Racing (+1): Scott Dixon used an alternate tact in pit stop planning to grab third at the checkered flag. Ed Jones, however, was unable to make a big surge through the pack as Rahal and Rossi were able to. Contact with the turn two SAFER barrier ended an underachieving month for the Dubai-based runner.
5) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (-2): Robert Wickens was able to garner some consolation for a team that was humbled by James Hinchcliffe’s inability to make the field of 33. Detroit will prove how small or large SPM’s memory bank is.
6) Ed Carpenter Racing (+2): Near-perfect month for the team boss, who earned an Indy-best second-place result Sunday. Could have challenged for the win, but an inability to profit from the restarts prevented a possible trip to the winner’s circle. The chance for multiple accolades was dashed by Danica Patrick’s early exit, and a pit road speeding penalty picked up by Spencer Pigot. Despite the setbacks, ECR showed it is among the best on ovals; now can they up the ante on road courses?
7) A.J. Foyt Racing (Unchanged): A flat tire ruined what could have been Super Tex’s best chance to win at the Brickyard since he placed two entries in the top-five in the year 2000. Matheus Leist reached the twin checkered flags in 13th, but far from the numbers expected with the more powerful Chevrolet package in hand.
8) Dale Coyne Racing (-2): Sebastien Bourdais’ elimination at the three-quarter mark Sunday extinguished the lone bright spot for the Chicago group this May. Zachary Claman De Melo could only manage 19th, and Conor Daly nor Pippa Mann made much noise, with the latter joining James Hinchcliffe on the DNQ list.
9) Harding Racing (Unchanged): The muscle shown in practice was not repeated in qualifying or
in the main event, yet somehow Gabby Chaves escaped with a 14th-place result.
10) Carlin Racing (Unchanged): Both Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton failed to cash-in on solid grid positions, each showing outside the top half.
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