IndyCar-Neely’s Nine: Field Rankings After HIGPA

So we’re back! Here’s my field rankings after 2 rounds of the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship. This week we see some new faces as some of the existing players had a rough week. More importantly, who wins the Mario Moraes Parking award?

1. Helio Castroneves #3 AAA/Turbo Team Penske Chevrolet (previously 2nd)
A 2nd place finish in St. Pete, followed by a Firestone Fast Six appearance and a 3rd place result at Barber, Helio Castroneves leaves two of his better tracks on a hot streak. Helio also leaves Barber as the new points leader.

2. Scott Dixon #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda (Previously 3rd)
Someone please get this man a horrible dress. Once again, Dixon leaves Barber with a 2nd place finish. He sits just behind Helio in points, having left St. Pete with a 5th place finish. Dixon was fast all weekend, setting the new track record in Round 1 Group 1 of qualifying.

3. Marco Andretti #25 RC Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet (Previously 5th)
Marco is really showing signs of improvement. He follows up a late charge to 3rd at St. Pete with a strong 7th at Barber. Quietly, Marco has been a strong choice in the new season.

4. Tristan Vautier #55 Oculus Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda (Previously 7th)
For a second event in a row, Vautier doesn’t get the result he deserves, but Vautier deserves this position based on yet another Firestone Fast Six and for running in 2nd place much of the early race. It’s only a matter of time till his first win.

5. Charlie Kimball #83 Novo Nordisk Ganassi Racing Honda (Previously N/R)
Charlie had a pretty good weekend at St. Pete, but he really set the world on fire at Barber. Charlie got his second Top 5 finish, as well as his first Firestone Fast Six appearance. He also out qualified “Teammate” Dario Franchitti.

6. Ryan Hunter-Reay #1 Sun Drop/DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet (Previously N/R)
The only reason he’s not ranked higher is because of his poor showing at St. Pete. He absolutely dominated the weekend at Barber, taking pole and devastating the field in the race. RHR is the real deal, and looks to move up quickly.

7. Will Power #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (Previously N/R)
Will had a great weekend going at St. Pete until an unfortunate incident effectively ended his day. He struggled most of the weekend at Barber, but still made the Firestone Fast Six and bring the car home in 5th. A very un-Power-like weekend, but not a bad finish either.

8. Justin Wilson #19 Boy Scouts/Bo Bikes Bama Dale Coyne Racing Honda (Previously N/R)
Not only did Justin get screwed over in qualifying, but he had to come back through the field twice during the race to secure an 8th place finish. Jutin proved why he’s one of the best in the business by overcoming crew errors two times. Had these errors not happened, Justin is probably in contention for the win.

9. Josef Newgarden #67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda (previously N/R)
Josef makes his first Top Ten appearance in his IZOD IndyCar Series career. Even though he faild to make it through the first round of qualifying, Josef moved from 22nd all the way to 9th in a quiet but ever so strong run. Josef is starting to show some rela pace as the SFHR team continues to improve their road and street program.

The Mario Moraes Parking Award
This race it goes to Graham Rahal. It’s not really his fault either. As Oriol Servia told me, there’s no way he could have seen the checking up happening at the bottom of the Museum Turn, but Graham got into the back of Servia, who got into the back of Hinchcliffe, who got into the back of Kanaan. The ensuing trail of carbon fiber brought out the only caution, ended Hinch’s day, sent Rahal to the pits for a new nose and killed the balance on Servia’s car as he was missing a Kardashian(the rear bumper thingies, called that because it gives the car a big butt.)