The IndyCar Series finally enjoyed a much-needed weekend off following eight-straight weeks of on-track activity starting at Sao Paulo and lasting through Iowa.
With 10 races of 19 complete, this is also the unofficial midway point of the season, presenting a good opportunity to hand out mid-season report cards in lieu of the standard power rankings that appear every Tuesday.
Keep in mind that the following grades are just one columnist's opinion. Explanations have been provided for all grades and discussion is encouraged in the comments section below.
Andretti Autosport A-
Team Andretti has won five races, half the schedule and has four drivers in the top-five of the championship standings. Not winning the Indianapolis 500 after dominating much of the month and race is the only thing separating Andretti from the elusive ‘S' ranking.
AJ Foyt Racing B+
When AJ Foyt first hired Takuma Sato, he believed that he had finally found a driver who matched his own "will to win." The Japanese veteran backed up that intent with results this season, scoring his first win at Long Beach and nearly repeating at Brazil and Milwaukee.
The combination should continue producing results deep into the summer months.
Team Penske B
Roger Penske has two competitive teams seemingly able to match the Andretti Autosport trio but they just haven't been able to consistently close in the later stages of the race. Helio Castroneves has been the more consistent of the two while Power has had more speed but has been snakebitten by extremely bad luck.
KV Racing Technology B
Tony Kanaan delivered the team its signature victory in May at the Indianapolis 500 and the momentum has carried the team to fifth place in the IndyCar championship standings. If only some of the good vibes could be extended to the other car and driver Simona de Silvestro.
Dale Coyne Racing B
At first glance, one might dismiss Mike Conway's victory at Belle Isle as a master street course artist producing his usual work. But factor in Justin Wilson's continued success on ovals and you start to see the inner-workings of one of the more-complete teams in the paddock.
Schmidt Hamilton Racing B
It was only a matter of time before Simon Pagenaud scored his first career victory and it came in the second race at Belle Isle. Arguably the most-consistent driver in the paddock, Pagenaud has stayed the course, propelling him to sixth in the IndyCar championship standings.
Meanwhile, his young teammate Tristan Vautier has shown a lot of speed but has also displayed equal recklessness. He'll figure it out and Sam Schmidt might have one of the most impressive one-two punches in the sport.
Fisher Hartman Racing B-
Progress is the watchword for driver Josef Newgarden. He nearly won at Brazil in the final few frantic laps with Takuma Sato and James Hinchcliffe. He's scored four top-10s and appears on the verge of contending for podiums.
Ed Carpenter Racing B-
Ed Carpenter gets a split grade for his 2013 season. He's had a championship caliber campaign (A) on the ovals but has continued to struggle on road and street courses (C-). It averages out to a B- once you factor in the pole-winning performance at Indianapolis.
Chip Ganassi Racing C
For as good as Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon have been over the past decade, they just can't seem to get anything more out of the current car right now. Perhaps it was just a misstep in their preseason development but they don't look like a team on the verge of a rebound.
Dixon has just one podium (at Barber) while Franchitti has just one top-five in what has turned out to be his second-straight sub-par season.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing C
When Graham Rahal joined his dad's operation, it was with the expectation that their reunion would lead to championship contention. That hasn't been the case this season as Rahal has largely been outperformed by teammate James Jakes.
Strong runs at Long Beach, Belle Isle and Fort Worth has Jakes single-handedly carrying the RLL banner this season.
Barracuda/Bryan Herta Racing C-
Alex Tagliani showed breakout potential with his new team late last season, winning the pole at Texas and scoring six top-10s late in the year. But that momentum has suddenly vanished for the start of 2013. They're still searching.
Panther Racing C-
Based purely on results, Panther received a below average grade. JR Hildebrand was let go after a series of mistakes to open the season and longtime engineer David Cripps was released soon afterwards. Like many struggling students, Panther is putting in the extra work, experimenting with several options, rotating both Ryan Briscoe and Oriol Servia in the cockpit in advance of the 2014 season.
Servia finished seventh at Iowa so the turnaround could come sooner rather than later.
Dragon Racing D-
It never feels right to give a failing grade at the mid-point of a semester but a ‘D-' should serve as a reminder to the Jay Penske-led operation. In the most parity-ridden season of all time, Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Saavedra haven't found the speed to match their credentials.