Friday, June 3, 2011

The Friday 15: Post-Indy Edition

It’s time once more to look at the Top 15 in the IZOD IndyCar Series points standings. Needless to say, after Indy, we had a lot of big moves. Let’s take a look at how things shook out in the aftermath of a wild and unpredictable 500. As always, the positions gained/lost from the last update are listed in red.

1) Will Power, 194 points (Unchanged)
Despite three-wheeling it at one point at Indy, Will Power remains 16 points ahead of his nearest competitor in the overall points standings. Winning a lot of races tends to have that effect. Can he grab that elusive first oval win in one of the twin races at Texas?

2) Dario Franchitti, -16 (Unchanged)
For most of last Sunday, I was pretty certain Dario was going to nab his third Indy 500 victory. As it did all month, the smallest margins of fuel shortages destroyed his chances. I like him to rebound in a big way, and soon.

3) Oriol Servia, -44 (Unchanged)
Servia drove a fine race at Indy, but it seems like he felt he could have accomplished a bit more. The most consistent driver out there right now will look to give Newman/Haas their first victory in a while next week. They’re close.

4) Tony Kanaan, -59 (+2)
Another Indy 500, another year of waiting for TK’s elusive trip to the 500’s Victory Circle. He had a great race, though, and has to be the highlight for KV Racing in an otherwise mixed season. I still like his chances to snag a win at some point this year.

5) Scott Dixon, -65 (+3)
Dixon was furious after short-fueling doomed his chances at a second 500 victory. It’s been an up-and-down season for Scott, but he’s still in the championship mix for the rest of the season despite his disappointments.

6) Graham Rahal, -74 (+3)
After a slow, disappointing start, Rahal has begun to show the form that most of us hoped to see when he signed on with Ganassi. If he can keep up the charge, the folks in front of him in the standings will have great cause to be nervous.

Rahal has plenty to smile about lately.
Image courtesy of IndyCar Media

7) Ryan Briscoe, -80 (-2)
Briscoe suffered more 500 disappointment, crashing in both qualifying and the race. He can’t seem to quite get on track this year, but don’t forget he was the winner at Texas last year.

8) JR Hildebrand, -81 (+8)
What a difference a race makes! With his P2 finish at Indy, Hildebeast jumps 8 spots in the standings and puts some distance between himself and James Hinchcliffe in the Rookie of the Year battle. Still, it’s hard not to feel bad for JR, who came so close to winning Indy in his first try. Just one more turn…

9) Alex Tagliani, -84 (-2)
You wouldn’t expect the Indy pole winner to drop two spots overall, but that’s just what Tagliani did after an early exit last Sunday. Still, you have to admire the late-career renaissance he’s been able to put together so far, and the positive overall direction of Sam Schmidt’s team.

10) Mike Conway, -92 (-6)
No top driver in the series was perhaps more hurt by Indy than Conway, who found himself on the outside looking in after qualifying. He’ll have to work his way back up on a series of ovals, which should be an interesting gauge of where he is outside of the twisty courses.

11) Vitor Meira, -98 (+1)
It was a pretty run-of-the-mill 500 for Meira, who wasn’t as competitive as many had hoped after his strong Pole Day qualifying. He nudges up a spot, but we’ll have to see if he can get another string of Top 10s going at Texas.

12) Marco Andretti, -99 (+1)
Marco recovered nicely from a near-catastrophic bout of qualifying at Indy to finish P9. His season had a very rough start, but it might be looking up a bit as we progress into some of the ovals.

13) Takuma Sato, -100 (-3)
Just when we think Takuma Sato has shaken off his crash problems this year, he end up as the first driver out at Indy. With the nightmare of EJ Viso continuing, KV Racing really needs Sato to return to good form through the rest of this season. A silver lining was his qualifying run at Indy, which just missed the first three rows.

14) Simona de Silvestro, -102 (-3)
Simona gave us one of the all-time gutsiest qualification stories, but her day ended early when it came to the race. She admits to not quite yet being back where she needs to be confidence-wise, so we’ll have to see how she manages in these next few races.

15) Danica Patrick, -102 (Unchanged)
She led laps late at Indy, and managed a solid P10 overall on the day. With the thought that she’s gone to NASCAR next year, she’s running out of racing in which to claim another IndyCar win. Texas might be one of her best remaining chances, as she can definitely get around that track.

Dropping out of the top 15? That be Justin Wilson (down two spots to P16). A fun twin-race format at Texas beckons next week, so we’ll see who can grab a win and work their way back up the standings!

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