Photo Credit: sports.usatoday.com
After 12 of the 16 scheduled Verizon IndyCar Series races are in the books, here are the grades for each of the 20 full-time drivers so far this season.
1) Simon Pagenaud: A+. Pagenaud has won a series-high 4 races so far this season, and has led the championship since after the 2nd race of the season at Phoenix. He leads the championship by 58 points over teammate Will Power
2) Will Power: A+. After sitting out at the season opener at St. Petersburg with a concussion, Power’s strong results, including 3 wins and 2 2nd place finishes over the course of the last 5 races, have propelled him right back into the championship hunt.
3) Josef Newgarden: A. Newgarden has been strong at pretty much every track over the
course of his career, and has recently started to translate those strengths into some very solid results. After a terrifying crash at Texas, Newgarden responded with an all-time IndyCar record of 282 laps led in his dominant win at Iowa. With the way it looks right now, he could be the sport’s next young dominant American driver.
4) Helio Castroneves: A-. Castroneves is currently and always seems to be in championship contention. Although he has not won a race in over 2 years, he consistently strings together championship-caliber result streaks. If he starts winning, he is still within range that he could claim his 1st ever IndyCar title this season.
5) Tony Kanaan: A-. Kanaan has finished inside the top 10 at 10 of the 12 races so far this season, and has been a contender for the win pretty much every race. If he can start winning races, something he has not done since 2014, he could end up winning this season’s championship.
6) Scott Dixon: B+. Dixon has started the season stronger than he usually does, but has recently fallen into a slump and is at risk of finishing the championship in his lowest position since 2006, and he is at risk of finishing with just 1 win in a season for the first time since 2005.
7) James Hinchcliffe: B. After struggling to begin the season, Hinchcliffe has been looking very good and is the top driver of a Honda-powered car. He sits within striking distance of the top 3 in the championship, which is pretty impressive for a guy who, just over a year ago, was minutes if not seconds away from being killed in a wreck.
8) Graham Rahal: B-. At the start of the season, it looked like Rahal was continuing on the momentum he had built up during the 2015 season. Despite recent frustrations and this not quite being the case, Rahal still sits in 9th place in the championship and within striking distance of the top 3.
9) Carlos Munoz: B-. Munoz turned his otherwise subpar season around at Indy by placing 2nd at the Indianapolis 500, and followed it up with a 6th place finish at Detroit. He also finished in 3rd at Mid-Ohio, but other than that he has not been a consistent contender.
10) Alexander Rossi: B-. Rossi won the Indianapolis 500, but that result, however, is his only top 5 finish. He has had some other strong races, like a 6th place finish at Iowa, but besides Indy has had jut a mediocre year.
11) Charlie Kimball: C+. Kimball always seems to find himself towards the middle of each race, and occasionally will run at the front. This season has been no different, as he has been one of the more consistently decent drivers on the grid, but has yet to bring home a win.
12) Juan Pablo Montoya: C. Montoya has uncharacteristically crashed out at multiple races this season after having a strong start to this season. He looked hungry to avenge his championship defeat from a year ago, but now, it looks like he is just looking to finish each race, as each race seems to be more and more challenging for him.
13) Ryan Hunter-Reay: C. Overall, Hunter-Reay has not been himself this season. Even after having the dominant car at Indy, he was involved in a pit road accident that ruined his chances at winning the race. He cannot catch a break, and that showed at Mid-Ohio when he was slated for a top 10 finish but his pit crew did not put enough fuel in his car on the last stop.
14) Conor Daly: C. In 12 races, Daly has been a legitimate contender for the win in 5 of them, and he has led laps in 5 of them for a total of 56 laps led, which is 7th most among drivers this season. As a rookie, he has already finished in the top 6 on 4 occasions and has placed 2nd once this season.
15) Mikhail Aleshin: C. Aleshin had a solid start to the year, but then had not been performing well again until recently. He nearly took his first series win at Mid-Ohio, and even with that misfortune, he has still been running up front much more lately.
16) Takuma Sato: C-. Sato could be a contender for the win at pretty much any track, but never seems to find the consistency and the speed when he needs it the most.
17) Sebastien Bourdais: C-. Aside of his win at Belle Isle, Bourdais has done nothing special this year that has made him stand out.
18) Marco Andretti: D-. For a series veteran, a top finish of 9th place in 12 races is not something to be proud of. Andretti has got to find a way to get some kind of rhythm going, as he is starting to become a back-marker car each race.
19) Max Chilton: D-. Chilton started the year out showing some potential, but has since rarely been mentioned aside of when he crashes. He is consistently running towards the back of the field.
20) Jack Hawskworth: F. Hawksworth is consistently having problems race after race, which is preventing him from even establishing a consistent rhythm.