Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The, Er, Wednesday Edition of the Friday 15

Since Friday will be taken up with our Long Beach Grand Prix Preview, today we’re going to be looking at our Friday Fifteen in IZOD IndyCar Series points again today, with their change from the previous week’s place in red parentheses.

Of course, being early in the season, we’ve had plenty of shakeups already. The Top 15 doesn’t have a Ryan Briscoe and it doesn’t have a Danica Patrick, a situation which those drivers will attempt to rectify in short order (hopefully, Danica’s crew changes her tires at some point before the race this weekend). Can some of these upstarts keep it clean and keep towards the top of the standings? We’ll see how it stands after Long Beach. For now, enjoy the commentary and marginally snarky rundown:

1) Will Power, 94 points (+1 position)
Possibly riding the karma from his awesome Verizon commercial (complete with backflips and kangaroo), Power is sitting on top again.

2) Dario Franchitti, -7 (-1)
There’s really this palpable sense of determination around Dario this year. Willpower vs. Will Power. Or something. (Keep reading, folks. It gets better). Scotland vs. Australia doesn’t seem like a natural rivalry, but if Power and Franchitti keep battling back and forth, it could get there very quickly.

3) Tony Kanaan, -31 (-)
If this is what he’s like when the car isn’t set up comfortably yet, imagine what a terror he’ll be when it is. At this point, I think he’s just qualifying poorly, then passing as many cars on the first lap as he can to show off.

4) Scott Dixon -40 (+12)
A 2nd-place finish at Barber has Dixon back towards his accustomed position in the standings. He’s another good race away from being squarely back in the championship battle.

5) Simona de Silvestro, -40 (-1)
The Swiss Miss kept it together and managed another Top 10. She likely would have finished higher if not for an incident involving herself, James Hinchcliffe, and the Notorious E.J.V.

6) Oriol Servia, -42 (+3)
Another great Top 10 by the Spaniard, who not only has more points than Helio, but is going to give him a serious run for Best Accent in IndyCar. Newman/Haas is looking great early on.

7) Marco Andretti, -50 (+13)
I’ll make the joke for the 800th time: Marco should skip the first race of every season. He’s our big mover this week, up 13 spots.

8) Takuma Sato, -50 (-3)
A mixed bag of a race for Sato; he made some nice moves early, but ran out of room on an attempt to pass Helio. A late fuel stop dropped him further, but he’s still looking much, much better out there.

9) Alex Tagliani, -51 (-3)
A bit of a letdown this past week for Tag after a good start, but you get the feeling that at some point he’s going to jump out of nowhere to lead the field. Hanging around or just above this spot all year is a realistic possibility for Sam Schmidt’s team.

10) Vitor Meira, -52 (-2)
Meira might be having the best “quietly good” season of anyone on the grid. Hard to envision any program linked to AJ Foyt as quiet, but here were are.

11) Helio Castroneves, -56 (+11)
Helio jumped 11 spots this week. Unlike his jump at the start of St. Pete, no one ended up on their lid as a consequence. Progress!

12) Raphael Matos, -56 (-5)
AFS Racing ran into trouble relatively early at Alabama after a great opening race. This team’s a good story; let’s hope more chapters are like the first, because Chapter 2 was sort of a downer.

13) JR Hildebrand, -58 (-2)
Hildebrand is leading the Rookie of the Year battle despite his struggles because, like the George Washington of old, he’s keeping his army (ok, National Guard car) in the field. He’s finishing races, which isn’t something the other rookies need to do to stay competitive.

14) Charlie Kimball, -62 (+10)
Kimball managed the first Top 10 of the season by a rookie. That drive was more along the lines of what the team wants to see—clean, skilled, and incident-free.

15) Justin Wilson, -62 (-2)
OK, so the crash took him out of the race. Dude was wearing a brace due to a fractured wrist. If I had any manner of wrist injury, I would be treating it as the End of the Bloody World, not slinging a car around a tight race track. The car was probably marginally slower this week due to having to cart his giant stones about.

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