Typically, posting the first set of IndyCar power rankings three races into the season would be an easy task. After all, Ganassi and Penske will have started to dominate the season and Will Power will likely have won multiple races on street and road courses, right?
Well not quite.
You won't see Power on this list nor will you see four-time IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti who are both mired in eighth and 20th respectively. While Penske's Helio Castroneves leads the standings, new names like Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti and Justin Wilson are contending after one month while traditional powers are struggling.
In short, it's been a strange season.
First of all, the season has opened with three different winners and one of them a first-time IndyCar winner with a team that hasn't won since 2002 (Sato with Team Rahal). That same race, Long Beach, also featured the first podium without a Penske, Ganassi and Andretti driver since long before the open-wheel merger.
The season's other first-time winner, James Hinchcliffe, has followed up that breakout performance with back-to-back DNFs. Picking a power ranking list was not easy. Nevertheless, you'll find a really diverse and parity-ridden power ranking below just remember that a lot could change as we approach the first set of ovals, starting with next month's Indianapolis 500.
1. Scott Dixon
While not the championship leader, he's been the most-impressive driver in all three races this year. He hasn't won but probably should have in Alabama. Disappointing qualifying efforts at St. Petersburg and Long Beach gave him a steep hill to climb out of but he still finished in the top-10 of each race this season.
The difference between Dixon and championship leader Helio Castroneves is that the Team Target Ganassi drover appears closer to victory lane.
2. Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves has led more laps than anyone else in the paddock and has finished on the podium at both St. Petersburg and Barber. A 10th-place at Long Beach was good enough to maintain both his championship lead and second in the power rankings.
3. Marco Andretti
The hard work Marco Andretti spent in Europe during the off-season has paid off, resulting in three top-10s on road and street courses to open the season. If Andretti can maintain this momentum on twisties and continue to produce on ovals, he could factor into the championship.
4. Takuma Sato
Takuma Sato has shown great speed in all three races this season but characteristic gaffes and circumstance may have cost him a podium in the first two races. With the proverbial monkey off his back, Sato could go on a string of victories at both Brazil and Indianapolis.
And don't look now but Sato is just six points out of the championship lead.
5. Justin Wilson
Consistency and doing the best he can with what he has to work with earned Justin Wilson a hard-fought podium at Long Beach and three-straight top-10s to open the season. He's dominant on road and streets and deceptively quick on ovals based on his Texas and Fontana performances. Don't sleep on Wilson and Dale Coyne Racing.
6. Ryan Hunter-Reay
Results aside, Ryan Hunter-Reay has been quick all three weekends. He put everything together at Barber and tried to do a little too much with an ill-handling racecar at Long Beach. The defending Series champion isn't going anywhere.
7. James Hinchcliffe
Like his champion teammate, Hinch has been fast dating all the way back to preseason testing. A severe case of bad luck has just befallen IndyCar's favorite Canadian since his victory in St. Petersburg. Expect a bounce-back performance in Brazil.
8. Simona de Silvestro
Simona is so close to breaking through and scoring a podium. The consistency just isn't there and she appears to be pressing to get the maximum value out of her car. She's maintained pace with her veteran teammate Tony Kanaan which should speak volumes about where she is in her development. That podium could come next weekend in Brazil.
9. Tony Kanaan
On par with teammate Simona de Silvestro which isn't meant as an insult to either veteran or youngster. Kanaan has been slightly more conservative than in years prior and that's allowed de Silvestro to get a slight jump.
10. Graham Rahal
Rahal finally scored a long overdue good result at Long Beach. Qualifying hasn't been a strong suit of the Team Rahal this year but the second-generation driver has shown the patience and skill needed to overtake even from the back of the field. Last week could be the start of a Rahal resurgence.
Failed to qualify...
Missing from this list is both Will Power and Dario Franchitti.
Something just appears wrong for Power in the early going. The No. 12 has looked fidgety in a pack of cars and its driver hasn't navigated through traffic well at all. Franchitti finally got out of the championship cellar with a fourth-place finish at Long Beach but more of the same is needed before he can crack the power rankings next time.