IndyCar Power Rankings: Marco Andretti surges to top spot before Indy 500 Pole Day

Michael Hickey

Andretti Autosport has dominated the first four races of the 2013 IndyCar Series season, led by Marco Andretti who tops this week's SB Nation IndyCar power rankings.

This week's power rankings will be unique because it falls right in the middle of opening week of Indianapolis 500 practice. As a result, these rankings will reflect both the previous race at Sao Paulo, Brazil as well as the first two days of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Practice speeds are somewhat irrelevant this early in the process as the cars are not fully in qualifying or race trim but observers will start to notice trends developing over the course of the first few days of track activity.

And much like the first four races of the season, Andretti Autosport has taken command at the corner of 16th and Georgetown. After winning three of the first four races to open the season, Andretti cars have posted the fastest times in both days of practice thus far with Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti leading the charge.

As a result, this list will contain a lot Andretti Autosport and given their history over the years at the Speedway (sans 2011), you had best get used to it.

1. Marco Andretti (LW: 3)

Marco Andretti has been the most consistent driver in the IndyCar Series this year which is remarkable considering that road and street courses are typically the weak spot of his campaign. Countless stories have been written about his off-season spent in Europe focusing on his non-oval prowess and he survived the first stint of twisties to the tune of second place in the championship standings, just 13 points behind Takuma Sato.

And there's that whole bit about Andretti leading 59 of the first 90 laps in last year's Indianapolis 500. Could this be the year the "Andretti Curse" is finally broken?

2. Takuma Sato (LW: 4)

The AJ Foyt Enterprises driver would be sitting atop the rankings this week if not for losing the lead on the final turn of the last lap to James Hinchcliffe in Brazil. Sato is off to the best start of his career and leads the IndyCar standings but is still prone to the occasional miscue that has plagued him in both Formula 1 and IndyCar.

Sato is also strong at Indianapolis, nearly pulling off the upset of the year over Dario Franchitti in last season's race with a dramatic turn one attempted pass for the win that just wasn't meant to be.

3. James Hinchcliffe (LW: 7)

A second win at Sao Paulo offset Hinchcliffe's low finishes at Barber and Long Beach. His redemption also returned him to championship contention, now sitting fourth and just 124 points out of the top spot. Another Andretti Autosport driver, James Hinchcliffe will be yet another possible contender in the Indianapolis 500.

4. Scott Dixon (LW: 1)

An 18th place finish in Brazil knocks him off the top step of the power rankings but after finishing second in last year's Indianapolis 500, Scott Dixon is still a solid bet for both the Greatest Spectacle in Racing as well as the season championship.

5. Helio Castroneves (LW: 2)

We mentioned last week that Helio Castroneves was holding onto the championship by virtue of this consistency but would likely need wins to stay near the top of the championship discussion. After finishing the first two races on the podium, Castroneves has finished the most recent two events outside of the top-10. He stays near the top of the power rankings by virtue of his ability to avoid accidents making the most out of his situation.

Oh -- that and he's a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner approaching his favorite showcase.

6. Ryan Hunter-Reay (LW: 6)

The defending IndyCar Series champion just hovers near the front of every race and that alone will keep him a constant in both the title hunt and power rankings. Somewhat unfortunate bad luck is the only thing to have kept him out of victory lane for a second time this season. Hunter-Reay is yet another Andretti Autosport Indianapolis 500 threat.

7. Oriol Servia (LW: Not Ranked)

Servia and Panther DRR are fighting for their professional lives and posting the results needed to keep them afloat in 2013. If adequate funding isn't found following the Indianapolis 500, Servia and Panther DRR will have to shut down operations until 2014.

Servia has done his part thus far, remaining in the top-10 in the championship standings and two top-10s in their last two races. A win in the 500 would likely mean more for this team than any other in the paddock.

8. Simona de Silvestro (LW: 8)

The only driver on this rankings list likely to not win a race this season but her consistency will get her close (a few podiums) and perhaps a surprise run at the IndyCar championship, assuming she keeps her nose clean for the remainder of the season.

Simona has continually outperformed her veteran teammate Tony Kanaan this season which speaks volumes about where the young driver is in her development.

9. EJ Viso (LW: Not Ranked)

The raw potential in EJ Viso is starting to get realized at Andretti Autosport. Veteran teammates and a leadership group centered around Michael Andretti has the IndyCar world looking at Viso as the next potential first-time winner.

Don't be surprised to see Viso make a serious run at the Borg Warner in the same way that Takuma Sato had in last year's race.

10. Dario Franchitti (LW: Not Ranked)

Don't call it a comeback but he's getting close.

After starting the season with a pair of 25th-place finishes, Franchitti is back on pace with a fourth and seventh at Long Beach and Brazil. We also shouldn't have to remind you that Franchitti is the defending winner of the Greatest Spectacle of Racing.

Should he repeat as Indianapolis 500 winner, then we'll start talking comebacks.

Failed to qualify...

Missing from this list is both Will Power and Tony Kanaan. Power's nightmare season continued in Brazil with an electrical fire and now sits 18th in the standings after finishing second the past three seasons. Much like Power, bad luck has plagued TK and he sits 17th in the standings. Both are capable of winning multiple races this season but won't crack the power rankings list until they do.

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