IndyCar – Neely’s Nine: Field Rankings after Toyota GP Long Beach

Three rounds into the 2013 season, and we’re all still scratching our heads. No wins by Ganassi or Penske. Will Power has no podiums. Down is up. Left is right. The world is a flat out nutty place! As always, these rankings are purely subjective. If you disagree with my opinions, then we’ll pray for you.

1. Helio Castroneves #3 AAA/Turbo Team Penske Chevrolet (Previously #1)
Helio leaves Long Beach with his points lead intact, which is all he could really ask for anyway. He wasn’t as quick as he’s typically been this season, but making the Firestone Fast Six and salvaging a Top Ten finish is enough to keep him in the #1 spot.

2. Marco Andretti #25 RC Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet(Previously #3)
Okay, I’m starting to buy into the “New Marco” movement. I expected pretty good runs at St. Pete and Barber, but Long Beach has been a track he traditionally struggled with. Marco managed to run quick, clean laps all day and move from starting 25th to a 7th place finish.

3. Takuma Sato #14 ABC AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda (Previously N/R)
Taku finally did what he’s needed to do all season, which is move forward instead of backward. He finally broke through and got his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory. It’s been hard fought, bur he and the team totally deserve the win. By the way, Taku now sits #2 in points.

4. Justin Wilson #19 Sonny’s Barbecue/Boy Scouts Dale Coyne Racing Honda (Previously #8)
Justin’s probably passed more cars than anyone this season. At Barber, he came from the back to the front twice. At Long Beach, he got stuck starting in P24 because of no vehicle wrap on the main plane of his rear wing to finishing P3. Wilson’s on a hot streak going into a track┬ásuited to him.

5. Scott Dixon #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda (Previously #2)
Dixon would’ve had a much better outing had he not suffered contact and a cut tire via Tristan Vautier on Lap 1. He started second, finished 11th, and leaves the weekend 3rd in points. If there wasn’t contact with Vautier, then Dixon probably would have been challenging for a win.

6. Simona de Silvestro #78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KV racing Technology Chevrolet (Previously N/R)
Simona bounced back from a rather disappointing outing at Barber by climbing all the way to 9th place from a 19th place start. Simona’s really showing some pace in the Chevrolet, and it’s obvious that having an experienced teammate is really starting to pay off.

7. Graham Rahal #15 Midas/Big O Tires Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda (Previously N/R)
For the first time this season, Graham wasn’t plagued by technical issues all weekend, and a second place finish was the result. The only car he wasn’t able to pass was the #14. Maybe he’ll be able to show his full potential at his father’s team no.

8. Will Power #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (Previously #7)
Power’s day actually wasn’t going too bad until he got run over by Tristan Vautier in the pits. He did lead a few laps in a day that was obviously Sato’s, but was headed towards a Top Five finish until the rear of the car was damaged i nthe Pit Road incident. Power now goes to Brazil, a circuit in which he has dominated.

9. Tristan Vautier #55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda (Previously #4)
Vautier’s finishing position really wasn’t his fault. After a poor qualifying performance, his engine was changed. He had contact on Lap 1 with Scott Dixon, worked his way back up into the Top 3, and then had it all ruined when his team launched him too early on his last stop, directly into the side of Will Power.

The Mario Moraes Parking Award
This time it goes to James Hinchcliffe. After parking it on Lap 3 at Barber, James follows that performance up by trying to make a 6 foot wide car fit in a 5 foot wide hole. He was pretty steamed after the race, thinking Tony Kanaan didn’t give him enough room, but it was pretty obvious that TK had the line, and Hinch was trying to make something happen.

One comment

  • Brian McKay in Florida

    Justin Wilson, despite his weight disadvantage, is ‘screaming fast.’
    As you wrote, at Barber MP, Wilson raced from the rear toward the front twice.
    He was racing in fifth, came to a pit stop in sixth, and … Dale Coyne Racing let him reenter the race in nineteenth place !!!

    Dale Coyne Racing did not learn to satisfy scrutineers in technical inspection at Texas Motor Speedway last year, and … disqualified Justin at Long Beach!
    Wilson raced to third-place, though! Honda power + racecraft …

    Tristan Vautier is ‘scary fast,’ as is Pagenaud. Pagenaud can ‘tutor’ his teammate and fellow Frenchman about racecraft, and each Schmidt racer can take wins in this and subsequent seasons.

    Although Doug has said during a podcast that luck isn’t a real thing and that precision preparation and excellent execution are important, I can’t resist saying that Dixon is perpetually snakebit in Long Beach.

    I don’t remember what happened to fastest-qualifier Franchitti or to previous GPLB winners Hunter-Reay and Conway …