By Dylan Reynolds, The Open Wheel
Our new reoccurring feature at The Open Wheel will be the production of the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings over the last 52 calendar weeks to provide a rankings system similar to what’s used for the ATP and WTA tours in tennis. We’re simply using the standard Verizon IndyCar Series points system for points earned at each applicable race over the last year. The date equity at Long Beach makes this a great week to introduce this feature as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is the next race on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series calendar and the 2015 race will fall off the 52 week rankings AFTER this week. While this method of driver rankings isn’t without flaws, particularly for rookies and part-time participants, it’s certainly useful for analysis once an old season is finished and a new one begins.
Here are the rankings for the last 52 weeks as of Monday, April 11, 2016:
It’s no surprise to see Scott Dixon’s name at the top of the chart but it is a bit of a shock to me that his lead over Juan Pablo Montoya is 55 points. Obviously the pair tied for the championship lead in 2015 and they’re only five points apart so far this season but the big difference is Dixon’s slow start last year. Dixon gained only 34 points in the first two races at St. Pete and NOLA Motorsports Park in 2015 so his huge improvement in grabbing 79 points in the first two races this year accounts for the reason he’s so far ahead of Montoya. However, Dixon won at Long Beach this year so he has a lot of points to “defend” this weekend.
Graham Rahal’s amazing results over the last year have been well documented but it’s still so impressive to see him sitting solidly in third on this list. He has a big opportunity to boost his total this weekend as he’s only defending 19 points points from a P11 at Long Beach last year.
I was shocked to see Jack Hawksworth so far behind the rest of the Top 15 drivers that have competed in every race over the last year. His 86 point deficit to teammate Takuma Sato is the largest gap between anyone in the rankings and it’s certainly interesting to see Gabby Chaves is only two points behind him in two less races. Even more impressive is the fact that Ryan Briscoe is only 50 points back of Hawksworth despite not racing in EIGHT applicable events. That’s not a great sign for anyone at A.J. Foyt Enterprises but Hawksworth especially could use some outstanding results to go along with his ample signs of speed.
We’ll add more features to the rankings as time goes on. We have some big ideas for this project. Check back every Monday for an update.
All stats courtesy of INDYCAR.