After the first half of the season failed to produce a clear hierarchy at the top of the IZOD IndyCar Series standings, the next half, beginning with Milwaukee last week, has started to paint a clear picture for what the rest of the season will produce.
Andretti Autosport in victory lane.
James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay finished 1-2 in Sunday's Indy Iowa Corn 250 one weekend after the defending champion scored his second victory of the season at Milwaukee.
With the result, three Andretti cars are chasing championship leader Helio Castroneves in the standings. Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Hinchcliffe are hot on his trails and that motivation will serve them well in the summer months.
Here are the updated power rankings with a new face on the top rung.
1. Ryan Hunter-Reay (LW: 2)
Five podiums in six races -- can't do much better than that. The champ has found his swagger and it has put the rest of the paddock on notice. He is not winning with consistency yet but it's not for a lack of effort.
If he starts turning podiums into victories, this championship battle is going to fizzle out in a hurry and this seems to have become a very realistic option.
2. Helio Castroneves (LW: 1)
Helio scored the pole by dominating the third heat race on Saturday afternoon but received a 10-spot grid penalty due to an unapproved engine change for the Sunday race. He started 11th and couldn't get much further than that near the end.
He finished eighth, which negated the nine points he received for winning the pole on Saturday.
3. James Hinchcliffe (LW: NR)
His victory on Sunday was his IndyCar-leading fourth of the season. He's fully back in championship contention, and might be the most-complete driver in IndyCar right now after scoring wins on both ovals and twisties this season.
4. Tony Kanaan (LW: NR)
TK continues to ride the wave of momentum off winning the Indianapolis 500, scoring four top-10s over his last six races -- including a third at Iowa.
5. Marco Andretti (LW: 4)
Ninth-place has to be considered a disappointment for Andretti after finishes of first and second over the past two seasons. Andretti has just one more opportunity to score a needed victory on an oval (at Pocono) before the Series returns to road and street course racing next month.
6. EJ Viso (LW: 8)
Yet another top-10 for EJ Viso in an Andretti Autosport Chevrolet -- that's 5-in-10 races for arguably the most-improved driver in IndyCar.
7. Scott Dixon (LW: 4)
Scott Dixon was the highest finishing Ganassi car at Iowa -- at 16th. That sums of the team's day completely. Dixon lost considerable championship momentum over the weekend and expects to be in ‘win now' mode for the rest of the season.
8. Justin Wilson (LW: 10)
An 11th-place at Iowa wasn't spectacular but consistent. Wilson is more than holding his own on ovals as the Series gets ever closer to the next batch of road and street courses.
9. Graham Rahal (LW: NR)
A fifth-place finish at Iowa was a long-time coming for both Graham and Team Rahal. It was just his second top-five finish of the season and comes just in time to build some momentum for the second-half of the season.
Everyone keeps waiting for Rahal to live up to the promise, hype and expectation but they often forget that he is just 24 years old. The turnaround could literally come at any week.
10. Will Power (LW: 7)
The results were mixed for Will Power at Iowa. A second place in the final heat combined with a Helio Castroneves engine change gave Power the pole but it was for naught as an ill-handling car relegated him to a 17th-place finish, three laps off the pace.
This result more-or-less eliminates Power from championship contention.