IndyCar Power Rankings: Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan surges to top spot

Chris Graythen

Tony Kanaan won the 2013 Indianapolis 500-mile Race and was the only realistic option to lead this week's SB Nation IndyCar power rankings.

There will be no rest for the weary this weekend as the IndyCar Series, fresh off an exciting Indianapolis 500 will face not one, but two races this weekend as the most-diverse open-wheel series in the world will tackle the streets of Bella Isle in Detroit, Mich.

The power rankings will slightly deviate from the overall season picture and instead focus purely on Indianapolis and the month of May. As a result, it should be no surprise to see Tony Kanaan top the list following his breakthrough victory in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

1. Tony Kanaan

His $2,353,355 Indianapolis 500 winner's payday is enough by itself to warrant the top spot. He could buy it, this website and several small islands if he wanted to (I kid, and he hasn't). The Brazilian veteran methodically worked his way up from 12th, led several times throughout the day and returned there when it mattered most.

His victory is perhaps one of the most popular in the Centennial history of the 500-mile Race.

2. Marco Andretti

The third-generation driver was again bitten by fate in the final 10 laps of the Indianapolis 500. The most dominant car and driver over the past two seasons didn't win the race but he leave with an 11 point IndyCar Series championship lead and the confidence that he will someday win this race.

3. Carlos Munoz

Not a regular in the IndyCar Series, Carlos Munoz won't have a lot of opportunities to make the power rankings list.this season. But like every other opportunity he was given over the month of May, Munoz excelled.

His second place finish on Sunday might have even earned him more starts later in the season. Sunday wasn't a win but it was surely everything else.

4. AJ Allmendinger

This is a similar situation to the one Munoz inherited. The difference is that Sunday was Munoz's first of many opportunities. Allmendinger entered the month of May, calling it his last big chance in motorsport. He excelled, leading over 20 laps, and may have lost the race only as the result of a freak accident that saw his belt buckle come undone while leading the middle stages of the event.

Allmendinger will be back in the seat this weekend for the Grand Prix of Detroit and may have stated a strong case to return full-time in 2014.

5. Ryan Hunter-Reay

The defending IndyCar Series champion put himself in position to win the Indianapolis 500 before the final caution fell on lap 197 and believes he had the best shot at dethroning Tony Kanaan had the race remained green.

This is what champions do -- never out of sight or out of mind and is just behind Marco Andretti in terms of consistency this season.

6. Justin Wilson

Sometimes referred to as a road course ringer, Justin Wilson is making a serious case for the most-talented overall driver in IndyCar following his win in Texas last season and fifth-place on Sunday at Indianapolis. Adding to his resume is that they were achieved in a Dale Coyne Honda.

Nothing against the homegrown Coyne operation, but their driver is taking the fight to the bigger budgeted teams with a lesser checkbook and technical base. Wilson is a few wins from creeping into the championship discussion.

7. Ed Carpenter

A somewhat disappointing 10th-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 has Ed Carpenter at seventh in the IndyCar power rankings list. He still makes the cut on the basis of his pole-winning effort and laps led on Sunday afternoon. The Indiana-native developed a push in the late stages of the race and fell from contention.

The pole gave his independent team a lot of momentum and will allow Carpenter to contender on other ovals for the rest of the season.

8. Helio Castroneves

One of the two three-time winners in the field, Helio Castroneves was consistently fast but never a major threat to win the race. He was the third most-competitive of the three Team Penske cars and yet earned the best finish (sixth) between them. That says he may have overachieved and pushed his car beyond its technical limits on Sunday.

More importantly, his steady result keeps him third in the championship battle behind Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato.

9. Simon Pagenaud

The Frenchman for Schmidt Hamilton remains one of the more consistent drivers over the course of a season. Indianapolis was one of the few races this season where Pagenaud was not bit by bad luck and his eighth-place result propels him into the top-10 in the standings.

10. Ryan Briscoe

For Ryan Briscoe to spend eight months away from the IndyCar Series and finish 12th is remarkable in itself. To do so with the underwhelming Ganassi entry in the 2013 Indy 500 and with the pressure of trying to earn another full-time ride by 2014 is makes it more impressive. Briscoe shouldn't be away for too much longer, based on his race day performance at Indianapolis.

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Notably absent from the list are traditional threats Will Power, Scott Dixon and defending Indianapolis 500 race-winner Dario Franchitti. Power showed the speed to win early but faded late before a fueling issue cost him a chance at a top-10 finish.

The Target Ganassi cars were underwhelming all afternoon with Dixon appearing to get no higher than ninth and Franchitti hitting the wall at the conclusion of the race to bookend a miserable month of May for Honda.

They will try again this weekend at Bella Isle.

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