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POWER RANKINGS: St. Louis

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Indycar_Power_Rankings_logoThroughout the season, POPULAR SPEED will rank the top-10 drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series following each event. Feel free to comment on the story at the POPULAR SPEED Facebook page.

He’s not there yet, but Josef Newgarden’s victory in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500k at Gateway Motorsports Park puts him another step closer to the ultimate destination. Two tough tests remain though; this weekend at Watkins Glen and then at Sonoma.

 

Team Rankings:

  1. Team Penske (Unchanged)

The Captain’s quartet owned last weekend’s proceedings. Although things ended with a little controversy between Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud, it will take something catastrophic to dethrone the big dogs from securing the top team honors for 2017.

  1. Chip Ganassi Racing (Unchanged)

Scott Dixon took runner-up honors in St. Louis, but never showed the potential for snatching the win from any of the Penske pilots. He was there late to take advantage of Pagenaud’s misfortune, however. Decent showing from Charlie Kimball to take seventh at the flag, a rare sunny moment for what’s been a painful year for the American.

  1. Andretti Autosport (Unchanged)

If Alexander Rossi is fighting to stay on the IndyCar grid in 2018, he is making a positive impression, at least in the last four races. Sixth-place was a well-earned finish and a rare thumbs up moment for the Andretti effort at St. Louis. Marco Andretti was never a threat on Saturday night, and DNFs fell upon both Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

  1. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (+1)

Solid recovery after the double retirement suffered at Pocono. James Hinchcliffe takes eighth at St. Louis, while Sebastian Saavedra closes out his 2017 slate with a quiet, but effective 11th-place run.

  1. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (-1)

No fireworks from Graham Rahal on Saturday as he settled for 12th at the finish. Returning to the road courses could regain number four placement by the end of the season.

  1. Dale Coyne Racing (Unchanged)

Strong comeback race for Sebastien Bourdais, who managed to reach the lead at one point on his way to reaching tenth at the climax. No challenge from Ed Jones at St. Louis; 13th was the result for the Dubai-based rookie.

  1. A.J. Foyt Racing (+1)

Finally, this is what we expected for Super Tex’s squad at the start of 2017. Outstanding effort from Conor Daly to run with the lead pack late, taking fifth at the conclusion. Carlos Munoz also handled things well in St. Louis, coming home in ninth. The focus in the final two rounds is building momentum for 2018.

  1. Ed Carpenter Racing (-1)

A substantial repair bill was dropped upon ECR in what was likely their last chance to make an impact in 2018. Wild ride on the opening lap eliminated team boss Ed Carpenter, while a crash at the other end of the Gateway Motorsports Park circuit removed J.R. Hildebrand from the action.

  1. Harding Racing (=)

Assuming Harding does indeed go full-time in 2018, Gabby Chaves and company will face a steep learning curve. Still, the Larry Curry-managed squad could be a threat on the ovals at least.

  1. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (=)

Season’s over, but 2018 Indianapolis 500 could be promising if the team continues the same course with Sage Karam. The driver-squad pairing seems perfect for one-off outings.

 

Driver Rankings

  1. Josef Newgarden (Unchanged)

Three wins in the last four events is stout. Even if one were to discount the St. Louis triumph with the contact to Simon Pagenaud, a runner-up showing would not have ruined the recent dominant form. There is work to be done to lock up his first IndyCar championship, but as long as he does not defeat himself, this is the favorite with two to run.

  1. Simon Pagenaud (Unchanged)

Only Newgarden has been more impressive than the reigning champion. While a successful defense of the crown is a long shot, he still could reach second on the points table before the year closes out.

  1. Will Power (-2)   

The pole position on Friday was lost by a first lap crash on race day. Road course ace still with an outside chance, but surrendered any momentum gained in previous showings.

  1. Helio Castroneves (+1)

Bad pit stop relegated the Brazilian to fourth-place last Saturday. He has not had a poor result since Texas retirement; however, he may have too much to do to win championship in possibly his final full year.

  1. Scott Dixon (+1)

Second-place at St. Louis stopped a four-race skid without a top-five. Honda has been a few steps behind at the recent road course efforts compared to the Penske Chevrolets. That trend must change if the Iceman is to stay in the battle for a fifth title.

  1. Alexander Rossi (Unchanged)

Sixth-place at St. Louis continues a recent move forward for the 2016 Indy 500 champion. Could reach the top-five on the standings list with two more good runs, coupled with some bad luck from those ahead of him.

  1. James Hinchcliffe (Unranked)

Canadian absorbed the bad effort at Pocono, with a clean run from start to finish in St. Louis. The eighth-place result puts the Mayor back into the rankings this week.

  1. Graham Rahal (-1)

Rahal hung around the top-ten for most of the first three-quarters of Saturday night’s proceedings. However, the story repeated itself from Pocono as the Ohioan fell to 12th in the final moments.

  1. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Unchanged)

Five DNFs have derailed the 2012 series champion, who is better on paper than his 11th-place spot in the points would lead you to believe.

  1. Tony Kanaan (Unranked)

Four of the last six rounds have ended with finishes of 16th or worse. If not for a mediocre bottom half in the IndyCar Series, TK would have dropped off the list this week.

Dropped Out: Takuma Sato (Was No. 10 after Pocono)

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattEmbury

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Matt Embury

An auto racing writer for over five years, Matt Embury's interest in auto racing was influenced from his father's side of the family. His first recollection of live racing attendance was in the early 1990s watching winged sprint car action at Butler Motor Speedway in Michigan with his uncle and dad. A major follower of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Matt has attended six previous Indianapolis 500s and rates Tony Kanaan's long awaited victory in the 2013 edition of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing as his favorite memory. Outside of following auto racing, Matt is an avid fan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish athletics program and can often be seen at home games throughout the season or running the audio controls on several ND-related radio programs. A native of Springboro, Ohio, Matt now resides in Mishawaka, Indiana.