Friday, May 6, 2011

The Friday 15: Month of May Edition!

Again, on Fridays between races we’ll be taking a closer look at the Top 15 drivers in terms of points. Some we expected to see, like Ryan Hunter-Reay (23rd), are still fighting to find their way. On the other hand, there are still some great stories and competitors who are a lot higher in the standings than most of us anticipated just a few months ago. Let’s see who our Top 15 in IZOD IndyCar Series championship points are going into The Greatest Spectacle In Racing (man, does it feel good to type that!):

(As always, drivers are listed with points behind leader, followed by position change from the last update in red)

1) Will Power, 168 points (+1)
Everything is gravy for Power on the twisties, whether he wins by speed or strategy. If he can master a couple of ovals this year, he’s going to be in great shape. He’ll be fast at Indy—and if you need to win on some ovals, that’d be a great one to have as your first.

2) Dario Franchitti, -14 (-1)
I swear, I remember Dario going into the tires at one point during this race, I really do. How did he come back to finish 4th? I think it might have ties to the JFK Assassination, The Mothman Prophecies, and (of course), the Loch Ness Monster. I really do.

3) Oriol Servia, -58 (+1)
The series missed out on a great driver in not having Servia in the series last year. He’s more than making up for it this year, though. In a year where almost no one in showing any kind of consistently, Servia is showing them how it’s done.

4) Mike Conway, -66 (+1)
The first four races of the year have been night and day for Conway. He’s been golden the last two, with a win and a crazy charge back to towards the front of the field after starting 20th on the restart. It looks like the promise he showed before his crash last year didn’t go anywhere, and is now being fulfilled.

5) Ryan Briscoe, -67 (+3)
This wasn’t the start to the season Briscoe wanted, but much like Conway, he’s picked it up the last couple of races. A good Month of May could help close the gap and bump him back up on the verge of championship competition.

6) Tony Kanaan, -69 (-3)
Brazil didn’t go as Kanaan hoped, but he’s still in pretty good shape heading into Indy. (Incidentally, did you know the #82 decal is now available through the IndyCar and IMS store? I do, because I grabbed one for the back of my car. Now that I have done so, I promptly expect my bad luck to follow him to Indy. Sorry, TK).

Brazil: Less fun for some than others.
7) Alex Tagliani, -83 (-1)
Before the season started, Tag promised his team would be a “headache” for the bigger teams. With Sam Schmidt Motorsports, he’s making good on that promise. He got knocked around a bit in Brazil, but he’s shown he’s going to be a charger on any road/street course on the schedule.

8) Scott Dixon, -84 (-1)
Dixon’s been more vocal than previous years in speaking out on what he sees on the track, but his performance has perhaps been the quietest of any driver in the Top 10. He’s got some serious work to do if he wants another series championship.

9) Graham Rahal, -86 (+12)
That’s more like what many of us hoped to see from Young Rahal this year. I’m pretty sure Graham would be fine if the series raced in the rain every week.

10) Takuma Sato, -88 (+3)
Man, I thought he had it.

11) Simona de Silvestro, -90 (-2)
Simona’s bad luck early on destroyed what might have been an intriguing race for her. Remember, she had the fastest lap of the Sao Paulo race. Is this team improved on the ovals? We’re about to find out.

12) Vitor Meira, -91 (-2)
Vitor’s string of good finishes came to an end, but how awesome was it to see AJ Foyt working on this car, trying to get him ready to go back out during the red flag? A disappointing finish for the team, who couldn’t duplicate their success in Brazil from a year ago.

13) Marco Andretti ,-98 (+2)
This is at least the third race I can think of in the last two years where the wrong call on strategy spoiled a potential podium or even victory for Marco. Apparently, the ol’ Andretti Luck is not an easy thing to shake.

14) Justin Wilson, -98 (+4)
Right now, Justin Wilson must be feeling like Helio Castroneves has made it his mission in life to jack up his season. Wilson recovered nicely from that pit incident to net a Top 10, but Dreyer and Reinbold still aren’t having what you’d call a dream season.

15) Danica Patrick, -99 (-4)
Danica seemed none too eager to head back out in the conditions during the Sao Paulo race. But, she finished, keeping her streak of not having a DNF alive. Still, she’ll be happy to be back on more terra firma for her with a visit to Indy.

Out of the Top 15 this week? Helio Castroneves (17th from 14th) and Raphael Matos (18th from 12th). Brazil was not kind to Brazilians.

Have a great weekend, and remember, next week we WILL have IndyCars on the track in Speedway!

(Image courtesy of IndyCar Media)

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