Make a note of these points, now, entering the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit:
1. Marco Andretti, 168
2. Takuma Sato, 157
3. Helio Castroneves, 152
4. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 138
5. James Hinchcliffe, 128
6. Justin Wilson, 125
7. Tony Kanaan, 124
8. Scott Dixon, 122
9. Oriol Servia, 112
10. Simon Pagenaud, 108
Thus far Andretti’s been driving incredibly well, but has yet to win. Sato’s been aggressive and in attack mode. Castroneves is again driving within himself, with his patience paying dividends. Hunter-Reay has come out recharged after his championship and has opened 2013 better than in 2012; Hinchcliffe has had a bipolar start to the year with his first two wins but finishes of 21st or worse the other three races.
Dixon and Kanaan have “back-to-back” on the mind. After a lackluster Indy, Dixon seeks to repeat his win here a year ago; Kanaan, of course, seeks a street course result after the glory of finally taking his first Indianapolis 500 victory.
Wilson and Pagenaud are drivers to watch this weekend – Wilson already has a win in Detroit (2008) and Pagenaud recorded his second podium finish of the 2012 season this race last year. Either is a viable win candidate if the Honda is up to snuff on pace. Poor Servia, unfortunately, is out of a ride for this race with the temporary shuttering of Panther DRR.
The gap between Hinchcliffe (128, fifth) and James Jakes (68, 23rd) means that more than 20 spots in the points standings could change after this doubleheader weekend. Will Power (89, 14th) and Dario Franchitti (81, 17th) are also much lower in the standings than you might expect.
Essentially, the “second season” starts in Detroit after the month of May. Charlie Kimball, who sits just outside the top 10 in 11th with 106 points, described the mentality and change in mindset.
“The season really starts at Detroit,” he said. “St. Pete has the first race excitement, Barber we did a lot of testing, Long Beach is a home race for me, Brazil is so different, and Indy’s Indy.
“So we’ll go to Detroit, coming from Indy, being a doubleheader, and there’s a lot of opportunity for points. There’s nearly 110 points for a strong weekend in Detroit. Starting that swing through the month of June is a great opportunity to move forward in championship standings.”