As always, the number of positional changes since the last race are listed in red:
1) Dario Franchitti (507 points, unchanged)
I know it’s fun to get on Dario Franchitti for some of his complaints in post-race interviews, but we are seeing one of the best IndyCar drivers of our generation. Appreciate his driving while you can.
2) Will Power (-5 points, unchanged)
Power is coming on strong, and I like his chances at Motegi, but those two ovals to finish the season loom pretty large.
3) Scott Dixon (-77 points, unchanged)
Meanwhile, Scott Dixon is quietly leading the hunt for the AJ Foyt Oval Trophy. Perhaps not quite as quietly as it would have been a couple of years ago; Dixie hasn’t been afraid to express himself this year.
4) Oriol Servia (-140 points, unchanged)
The Reign of Spain is nearly upon us, with Servia grabbing another podium last week. His success this year has meant so much to fans of Newman/Haas Racing, and what it means for their revival.
|The "T" might also stand for "Terrific".|
(Image Courtesy IndyCar Media)
Has any driver given us more exciting races charging from the back of the field? Certainly not in recent memory.
6) Ryan Briscoe (-179 points, -1)
Briscoe didn’t feel Ryan Hunter-Reay gave him enough room in the incident leading up to the Great Pile-Up of Baltimore ’11. The subsequent penalty on RB could play big with who finishes higher between the two if RHR keeps charging.
7) Ryan Hunter-Reay (-202 points, +1)
Ryan’s easily been Michael Andretti’s most consistent driver in the second half of the season, and it’s great to feel like one of their drivers has a chance to win on any course. Let’s hope that’s a preview of 2012.
8) Marco Andretti (-215 points, -1)
After that win at Iowa, it’s been a long, frustrating season. We’ll have to keep waiting to see if he can find that form again this year.
9) Helio Castroneves (-217 points, unchanged)
Although there’s still no wins, Helio has looked a lot better recently than he did in the first half of the year. Getting moved to the back at Baltimore wasn’t his fault, but he’s still looking for the W.
10) Graham Rahal (-223 points, unchanged)
For a moment on the first lap, it looked like Graham could hang with Power. That didn’t last long. All in all, a disappointing weekend as he was lost in the jumble after a great qualifying effort. Then again, he missed that safety truck in Turn 1, so maybe we should just let well enough alone and move on.
11) Danica Patrick (-232 points, +1)
She did a nice job of persevering and fighting for position. Her last, best chance to win in this series will be the last two ovals, though.
12) Alex Tagliani (-243 points, +4)
Tag had a nice result at Baltimore, which was nice after the decline we’d seen in more recent races. Hopefully he can finish the season strong—there are some teammates on the way for the last races of the year, which should be nice.
13) Vitor Meira (-244 points, +2)
It’s like we forget about Vitor for a few races, then he pops up with a nice finish. His first series win likely won’t be this year, but how much fun would that be?
14) Takuma Sato (-245 points, -3)
I can’t wait to see Taku get the rock star treatment again from the fans at Motegi. That’s always great to see. Danica and Helio have to sit on the sidelines while Sato basks in the adoring glow.
15) JR Hildebrand (-249 points, -2)
Hildebrand was unfortunately lost in the mix a bit at Baltimore, but if he can finish decently at Motegi, he should get a big boost from the last two ovals of the year.
Dropping out this week was James Hinchcliffe (-2 spots), who is still right behind Hildebrand in the Rookie of the Year duel. I expect him to finish the year in the Top 15, but right now, those 12-13-14-15 spots are a dogfight. As we saw this week, there’s some high mobility down in the standings.
Have a great weekend, and see you Monday!