Friday, April 1, 2011

The Friday Fifteen: IndyCar Points Leaders

I thought we'd do something a little different this Friday, to see how folks liked it. A lot of sports have Power Rankings; we'll be taking a look at the Top 15 in points for IndyCar--how their season's going, random bits of commentary, if they're going up, down, or flat. Oh, and let's call it the Friday Fifteen. If you like it, we'll do it on the off-weeks of the season when we don't have a race preview going on. If not, that's ok, too. Ready? Let's try it.

Don't sweat it, Vitor: you made it.
So who's not in the first Friday Fifteen?  Thanks to multiple on-track incidents, only names such as Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti, and Helio Castroneves. That won't last, but these merry upstarts taking their place can enjoy their lofty perch while it does:

1) Dario Franchitti (52 points)
The defending champ served notice he won't be conceding anything any the twisties to Power. He was the more aggressive driver this week, and it paid off big. Not even a trashed car in practice could slow Franchitti, who's still class of the field.

2) Will Power (-11)
Power ran away from the rest of the field with the exception of Franchitti. He'll look to return the favor next week, but he was the sole Penske car in contention last Sunday. How weird is that?

3) Tony Kanaan (-17)
Less than a week on the job with his new team, and Kanaan finishes with a podium. Not all weeks will be like this, but early on, it definitely looks like KV has upgraded their game by adding TK.

4) Simona de Silvestro (-20)
There's little that hasn't been said about de Silvestro's great finish. I will say my six year-old daughter was going nuts watching her battle Kanaan over the closing laps. That's a great sign for the future of the sport.

5) Takuma Sato (-22)
Sato needed a good finish here as much as any driver after his horrific 2010 season. St. Pete might not blot out all memories, but it's a reminder that if he can finish races, he's got the speed. Now repeat...

6) Alex Tagliani (-24)
With FAZZT being purchased by Sam Schmidt Motorsports, this was sort of an early gauge as to where this team might be. They may not be FAZZT anymore, but they're still plenty fast (see what I did there?).

7) Raphael Matos (-26)
AFS Racing wasn't even an IndyCar team a month ago. Rafa Matos looked to be on the outside looking in without a ride. Together, they had an amazing, inspiring weekend.

8) Vitor Meira (-28)
Foyt's team had one of the quietest, best weekends of anyone at St. Pete. Best wishes to Super Tex, who's said to be recovering nicely from a medical procedure. As if anything short of Thor's hammer and Ragnarok itself could stop him.

9) Oriol Servia (-30)
Newman/Haas announced their full-season Telemundo sponsorship AND had Servia finish in the Top 10. That's not a bad weekend.

10) Justin Wilson (-32)
Wilson got jostled around quite a bit, but managed to squeeze into the Top 10. He'll be wearing a carbon fiber brance for that wrist injury come next race, but should manage to drive.

11) JR Hildebrand (-33)
Hildebrand didn't come as hot out of the gate this weekend as many had hoped, but he turned generally a poor practice and qualifying experience into just missing the Top 10. He'll take it and look to improve next time out.

12) Danica Patrick (-34)
On a horrible day for Andretti Autosport, hers was the only AA car to finish, despite damage to her car's front on two different occasions. Lost a spot to Hildebrand for "avoidable contact". Well, you know what they say in that other series she particpates in, rubbin's racin'.

13) Sebastian Saavedra (-35)
Seriously, I kept thinking Saavedra had crashed out during the race. A rough weekend for Sebastian and Conquest Racing (destroying a car in qualifying), but a respectable race finish nonetheless.

14) Ana Beatriz (-36)
Bia was a part of a field that saw more punting than a Cleveland Browns home game (HiOOOOOOO!). She managed to finish, but an injured wrist throws her next race into question.

15) James Jakes (-37)
After the weekend Dale Coyne Racing had, for Jakes just to survive his first race was worth celebrating. But the Great Unknown drove well enough once he got in the race itself. It's a lofty perch you've found, Jakesy.

(Image courtesy of IndyCar Media)

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