After every race I will post our Power Grid, which is the top 11 drivers in my view. Why 11? Because everyone else does a top 10, and #11 TK is my favorite driver, so seems good enough reason for me! I will also post an updated IZOD Championship points graph.
1st – Will Power – No Change
IZOD Championship Points 200 – 1st
Will Power will probably win the IZOD INDYCAR Championship this year. He is dominate on every road/street course. But it is hard to consider him great when he has done so poorly in the signature event of the sport.
How can a guy that is so good on the road/streets not be able to improve on the oval courses. It’s not like Dario grew up driving a ton of ovals, yet he learned. Makes you wonder if it really is a priority for Will.
2nd – Scott Dixon – No Change
IZOD Championship Points 153 – 4th
Seemed very much had the Indy 500 gone 2-3 more laps, it would have been Dixon closing the door on Sato, not Franchitti. The two Ganassi cars were swapping the lead every other lap at the end of the race. They were the class of the field this year and could pull away from anyone, except each other.
Dixon must have hated seeing Dario running up front with him, because if Chip has to pick one car to win, it would be Dario. If I’m Scott, I would much rather be on a totally different strategy than Dario. Now it only gets worse for Dixon in future Indy’s, as all Ganassi resources will go to Dario’s 4th. Not much ever comes out of the Target camp, so we may never knew if Dario really had a better car yesterday, or did Chip just put him in the right place on the right lap.
3rd – Dario Franchitti – Up 8 Spots
IZOD Championship Points 136 – 7th
Two races in a row he gets spun around, put on the end of the leaders lap, only to work his way up to the front.
Full disclosure, I’m not a Ganassi or Dario fan at all. But give credit where it is due, the man flat out drove a hell of a race yesterday. His pit spin early the race could have rattled a lesser driver. But he carved his way through the pack and was in the right place at the end.
I am writing this late on Sunday night, so I have not fully watched the race on ABC, but from my vantage point in the Upper Paddock above the start/finish line, it sure looked like he side-punted Sato in the 1st turn. But it is the last lap of the Indianapolis 500, so while I would normally be saying he should be penalized, I really do believe that almost anything goes in the last few laps at Indy.
It is interesting how many people don’t like Dario and/or Team Ganassi. My whole section was not very happy with a Dario win. I know it’s partly because they are so dominate, but so is Penske, and they don’t have the same vitriol thrown their way. Me thinks that some of it stems from the fact that Dario left for NASCAR, and I don’t feel like he came back to INDYCAR on his own, but rather because he failed at NASCAR.
Last thought on the Dario win. As my wife and I were walking back on Georgetown Road to our car, we really lamented that it has been so long since we have seen a 1st time winner at the 500. It is now 4 straight Indy 500’s where we have had a previous winner go on to victory. Unless I missed it in my research, this is tied for the the longest stretch without a new champion in Indy 500 history.
I was a fan of Wheldon, and like Helio. But I am getting a bit tired, as it seems is everyone else, of watching the same 3-4 guys win every Indy 500. Next year, can we get a bit of new blood out there? How long will we only have 3 former champions in the race?
He had a great car all month, and had a great car for the first 100 laps. Then once he got into the middle of the pack, just wasn’t able to keep up the speeds with the Ganassi team. Overall, for a second year driver he had a great month of May, starting in P2 and finishing in P6, nothing to sneeze at.
Now comes the much harder part, expectations. I’m a huge fan of Hinchcliffe. I even want to buy some of his gear, just can’t bear to do it as the Go Daddy logo and colors still gives me the Danica shakes. But next year, if he isn’t able to compete a bit more for the win, there is going to be some questions as to why. The days of saying, “Great month of May” and being happy with respectable showings are over.
I will call it now, I think we see him drinking milk in the next 10 years!
5th – Helio Castroneves – Down 2 Spots
IZOD Championship Points 164 – 2nd Tied
Did he run the Indy 500? From being at the race, sure didn’t feel like it. Didn’t hear much from him all day and seemed to be solidly in the middle the pack, not much better or worse.
His last three Indy finishes are 9, 17, 10. He still qualifies like a champ, but is turning 38 next year. And while he will always be a factor in the Penske equipment, dare we start talking about the window closing on his opportunities to get that 4th Indy win? Let’s also not forget that Penske did cut ties with Al Unser when he had 3 Indy wins (They did hire him back in time to win that 4th), so it’s not out of the realm that he may not have unlimited chances with the Penske equipment.
6th – Takuma Sato – Up 2 Spots
IZOD Championship Points 100 – 12th
My wife and I always joke about how Takuma is going to hit the wall on the pace lap. This year, I joked that he hit the wall during driver introductions.
With some help from Dario on lap 199.25, he again found a way to put it into the wall. But up to that point he showed what many of us already knew, if he can keep it on the track, Sato has speed and can flat out drive.
We are seeing more and more of Sato keeping his car on track and out of walls. I think this means more podium finishes in his future.
I’m convinced that unless Ryan feels like he is about to be fired, he isn’t going to win, because he only seems to win when there are rumors about his ride.
He had so much speed during May. But once he got back into the pack, he became a non-factor for the rest of the race. He made a late charge to finish 5th, but I would have to feel that given where he started and his early race speed, this has to be a disappointing 5th place for Briscoe.
Team Penske has had three straight bad months of May. Add to that a drought of Championships, and I wonder if we are going to see some driver changes in the near future. While they are dominate at every other track, they aren’t winning Championships or Indy 500’s, so why would The Captain continue with the same line-up. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of stupid, or so goes the saying. Just not sure Ryan has what it takes to cash in a Indy 500 with Penske. It was really all laid out for him this year.
Damn. So close.
TK made such a great re-start to get into the lead. But going into the last re-start I knew he didn’t have enough to hold off the Ganassi cars. Sadly, it seems that TK felt the same way, as he gave up his position before turn 1 on the re-start.
It seems the last few years, TK has driven the wheels off his car but the story is the same. He gets up very close to the lead, but just doesn’t have enough car to get him over the hump. I am very concerned that he may have the talent, but no longer have the equipment to get him to victory lane. Did he miss out on his opportunity to win back in the mid 2000’s, when he had the best equipment?
TK is my favorite, so it pains me to say this, but I also wonder if he had that extra gear and the mentality to win. He is seemly friend with everyone, and even after the race today he seemed very upbeat and happy for Dario. While I like that attitude, there is a part of me that wishes he showed more disappointment and seemed pissed that another year has passed. I’m sure this comes when the doors are closed. I know TK wants to win Indy, but I also know the drivers that win will do ANYTHING and they hate to lose more than they love the win. Not always sure I can put TK in that column.
Every year I worry that the door is getting very close to shut on his window to win Indianapolis.
9th – Ryan Hunter-Reay – Down 5 Spots
IZOD Championship Points 143 – 5th
Gotta get under Ryan’s skin that he had one of the few DW12’s that couldn’t hold up for the 500 miles.
10th – Simon Pagenaud – Down 4 Spots
IZOD Championship Points 136 – 6th
Not really a factor in the Indy 500, but since we only have a handful of ovals on the schedule, his road/street ability will keep him up here.
Last spot came down between Rubens & JR. Nod goes to Rubens because he finished a higher in the 500 and he was a rookie at the track, so I give him a higher degree of difficulty.
It’s still very early with Hildebrand, but every year that passes that he doesn’t win a 500, that crash in turn 4 in 2011 is going to loom larger and larger. He needs to look no further than Marco. Now that we are 7-8 years out from his second place finish to Sam Hornish Jr., makes you really wonder if that was his best shot at an Indianapolis 500 win.
Dropped from The Power Grid – JR Hildebrand
2012 IZOD Championship Points Graph – After Indianapolis
(Click on graph to view it in full screen)