Three races into the season, and the NTT IndyCar Series power rankings are settling into the expected power structure.
The top 10 drivers represent what many would consider the four best teams in IndyCar: Chip Ganassi Racing, Team Penske, Arrow McLaren and Andretti Autosport.
Both Ganassi and Penske have all three of their full-time drivers rated (with championship points leader Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou leading the way for Ganassi), and Andretti has three of its drivers represented as first-time winner Kyle Kirkwood entered the rankings for the first time.
INDYCAR AT BARBER: How to watch, schedules, start times for the race weekend
Pato O’Ward is the lone driver from Arrow McLaren. After opening 2023 with consecutive runner-up finishes, the Mexican star dropped from first to fourth in the NBC Sports Power Rankings after a disappointing Long Beach.
Heading into the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, here’s NBC Sports’ assessment of the current top 10 drivers through three of 17 races this year (with previous ranking in parenthesis):
NBC Sports’ IndyCar Power Rankings
1. Marcus Ericsson (5) – Three races, two podiums and one long-term contract extension that the 2022 Indy 500 winner still needs to have signed by Chip Ganassi Racing. What are you waiting on, Chip?
(But congratulations are in order for the points leader: Though still expecting an offer from his team, Ericsson did sign a lifetime deal with Iris Tritsaris Jondahl last week.)
2. Alex Palou (2) – The 2021 IndyCar champion quietly is putting together a championship-caliber season just as he did in his first season at Ganassi. Just missing a victory so far this year.
3. Josef Newgarden (3) – He put up a fight after impressively working his way to the front at Long Beach before a mysterious fade in the second half (apparently because Chevrolet’s fuel mileage was lagging behind Honda).
4. Pato O’Ward (1) – After a strong Friday practice that he paced, Long Beach was mostly forgettable — from a disappointing qualifying lap to a mistake and multiple incidents during the race.
5. Romain Grosjean (9) – The Long Beach runner-up is the only driver in IndyCar with a legitimate case that he could have opened the 2023 season with three consecutive wins.
6. Kyle Kirkwood (NR) – Flawless in his first career IndyCar victory from his first pole position. In only his second year, Andretti’s budding star is emerging as one of the series’ most unflappable.
7. Scott McLaughlin (6) – Made the most of what he had during a mostly subpar weekend for Chevy teams; Team Penske driver is seeking to recapture his speed from St. Pete at Barber.
8. Colton Herta (9) – If he had qualified higher, he might have been celebrating at Long Beach instead of his teammate. But the solid weekend catapulted him into the top 10 of the points standings.
9. Scott Dixon (4) – The promise of qualifying fifth ended abruptly in a collision with O’Ward that Dixon didn’t appreciate. The shunt snapped his impressive streak of consecutive laps completed that had dated to August of 2021.
10. Will Power (NR) – Easily his cleanest race weekend of the 2023 season even despite a surprising first-round qualifying knockout. Defending series champ rebounded well from a terrible Texas.
Falling out: David Malukas (10), Callum Ilott (7).
PRESEASON: Josef Newgarden is a favorite to win third championship
RACE 1: Pato O’Ward to first; Newgarden drops out after St. Pete