Much like the championship battle that has nine drivers within one race of the top spot, the IndyCar power rankings are wide open from week-to-week. For better or worse, there is no clear hierarchy in the paddock right now and there is truly a sense of ‘anyone can win.'
Neither Penske Racing nor Chip Ganassi Racing have yet to score victories in IndyCar this season, instead taking a back seat to Andretti Autosport, Dale Coyne Racing and AJ Foyt. It makes no sense, there is no sense of order and it makes writing a clear-cut power ranking nearly pointless.
The Dual in Detroit itself represents a fine microcosm of how 2013 has progressed up to this point. Marco Andretti entered as the points leader and finished 20th and sixth while defending champion Ryan Hunter-Reay finished second and 18th -- there is no consistency in the modern IndyCar world.
That's due in large part to the technical restraints IndyCar has placed on the teams. While it is taboo to toss the word ‘spec' around, there is not a lot of difference in all 25-ish cars and thus one mistake will cost drivers a chance to win on any given weekend -- there is zero room for error.
Thus the power rankings and championship standings will come down to whoever makes the least mistakes starting with some familiar names at the top...
1. Helio Castroneves (LW: 8)
With finishes of fifth and eighth over the weekend in Belle Isle, Helio Castroneves was one of only a handful of drivers to run a more-or-less mistake-free weekend in Detroit. It has propelled him to a championship lead with Marco Andretti despite neither driving having won a race this season. With consistency on his side, you can't help but feel that he is due for a win over the next few weeks.
2. Scott Dixon (LW: NR)
Like Castroneves, Scott Dixon used a consistent weekend of fourth-place finishes in both races to propel himself to...fourth in the standings. While Target Chip Ganassi Racing got off to a slow start both Dixon and Dario Franchitti are knocking on the door to victory lane. Unlike Franchitti, Dixon survived to slow start, making the most of slower cars and appears to capitalize on the team turning its season around.
3. Mike Conway (LW: NR)
While not competing in the full schedule due to his distrust of high speed ovals, Conway is a factor in every road or street course in which he competes in. This weekend was no different with the Brit scoring a victory in the opener, a pole for the nightcap and a podium to end to the weekend. His performance appears to have scored him another chance with the Dale Coyne operation in a few weeks at the Toronto doubleheader.
The rest of the paddock will have to step up that weekend.
4. Marco Andretti (LW: 2)
The championship leader entering the weekend looked like his old self on road and street courses on Saturday struggling to a 20th-place finish on the Streets of Belle Isle. But like the rest of his season has dictated, Andretti and team figured it out and improved before Sunday, guiding Marco to a sixth-place finish in the doubleheader finale.
The performance earned him a share of the championship lead with Castroneves entering another oval at Texas, where Andretti is sure to be the favorite.
5. Simon Pagenaud (LW: 9)
In last week's IndyCar Power Rankings, Pagenaud was called the most consistent driver with the worst luck in 2013. Both the bad luck ran out and consistency remained, guiding the Frenchman to his first-career IndyCar Series victory on Sunday. Now that he's got the proverbial monkey off his back, don't be surprised to see Pagenaud roll-off several wins and contend for the championship by the end of the summer.
6. Ryan Hunter-Reay (LW: 5)
The defending IndyCar Series champion had a much-better car than second and 18th over the weekend -- which is the obvious way of saying that he could have easily swept both races. But a mistake in the corner cost Hunter-Reay a strong finish to the Sunday race and a shot at the points lead himself.
7. Tony Kanaan (LW: 1)
The defending Indianapolis 500 champion didn't have the greatest of weekends in Belle Isle but he was consistent. The Brazilian finished 13th and 12th respectively but remains in the top-10 of the Power Rankings on that notion and the fact that he won the 500 -- that counts for something, or so they say.
Kanaan is always good at Texas, making him a solid bet to go back-to-back on ovals before early in the season.
8. Justin Wilson (LW: 6)
Justin Wilson had a race-winning car on both Saturday and Sunday but like many of his rivals just couldn't stay out of trouble on both races. He finished third on Saturday to teammate Mike Conway but was caught up in a litany of wrecks and issues on Sunday - he finished 22nd but is the defending winner of this Saturday's Texas 550k.
9. Ryan Briscoe (LW:10)
Briscoe made the most of a difficult scenario, replacing JR Hildebrand at Panther on the same day he was let go by the team. Briscoe had no plans to race on this weekend and the team wasn't entirely prepared to deliver a set-up to his likings. But Briscoe did what his predecessor was unable to do -- finish races, 21st and 13th, showing the improvement team owner John Barnes will be looking for later in the season and perhaps in 2014...
10. Dario Franchitti (LW: NR)
Don't look now, but Dario Franchitti is slowly climbing his way back into championship contention. As previously mentioned with teammate Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing has slowly turned their season around. Franchitti scored top-10s in both races and has climbed up to 11th in the championship standings.
With the standings tight and race-winners so diverse, a victory combined with a few more top-10s will place Franchitti back in the hunt and that's something his rivals should pay close attention to.