After back-to-back street races to open the year, the Verizon IndyCar Series doesn’t race on one again for another month.
St. Petersburg and Long Beach represent the series’ only “standard” street races of the year. The other three weekends in Detroit (May 30-June 1), Houston (June 27-29) and Toronto (July 18-20) are all double-header weekends, and thus will see an altered qualifying format similar to how the double-headers were done in 2013 (Firestone Fast Six on Friday for Race 1 and likely a two-session format for Race 2).
Once we get back to Detroit, it will be interesting to see if the pattern of who’s been quick and who hasn’t will continue.
Here’s a look at the average qualifying positions in IndyCar through two races:
1. Ryan Hunter-Reay 2 2. Scott Dixon 6 3. Jack Hawksworth 6.5 4. Marco Andretti 7 5. Tony Kanaan 7.5 6. Takuma Sato 8 7. Sebastien Bourdais 8 8. Will Power 9 9. Carlos Munoz 9 10. Helio Castroneves 9.5 11. Simon Pagenaud 10 12. James Hinchcliffe 10.5 13. Oriol Servia 12 14. Josef Newgarden 13 15. Justin Wilson 13 16. Ryan Briscoe 13.5 17. Mike Conway 14.5 18. Sebastian Saavedra 16.5 19. Juan Pablo Montoya 17 20. Mikhail Aleshin 17.5 21. Carlos Huertas 19 22. Charlie Kimball 19.5 23. Graham Rahal 22
As you can see, it’s a fairly mixed order and only three Penske and Ganassi drivers are in the top 10. Hunter-Reay and Power were the two top qualifiers in 2013 and this order is likely to fluctuate with the next two races on permanent road courses at Barber Motorsports Park and then the new infield road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Perhaps Jack Hawksworth, who’s qualified eighth and fifth in the first two races this year, has been the biggest positive surprise. Meanwhile luck and or timing has not been on the side of Ryan Briscoe, Juan Pablo Montoya and Charlie Kimball, all of whom drive for either Penske or Ganassi and have yet to hit the perfect lap in two sessions.
What these stats mean anyway, for the moment, is the field is so ridiculously tight that mere hundredths of seconds can swing a starting position any of 8 to 12 spots. And proof positive that qualifying isn’t everything, eight of the top 10 finishers at Long Beach started outside the top 10.
Still, interesting to note.