IndyCar Power Rankings: Pato O’Ward stays on top heading to Long Beach
The NBC Sports IndyCar power rankings remained unchanged at the top where the championship leader maintained a firm hold.
Pato O’Ward stayed in the No. 1 position with his second consecutive second-place finish to open the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season. Alex Palou zoomed up seven spots to second after a third Texas that he described as the best oval finish of his career.
After a disappointing 17th in the season opener that dropped him from the power rankings, Josef Newgarden rebounded to third with his third victory at Texas.
Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top five.
Heading into Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, here’s NBC Sports’ assessment of the current top 10 drivers through the second of 17 races this year (with previous ranking in parenthesis):
NBC Sports’ IndyCar Power Rankings
1. Pato O’Ward (1) – The Arrow McLaren ace easily could have consecutive victories to open the year if not for a “plenum event” at St. Petersburg and an ill-timed caution flag at Texas.
2. Alex Palou (9) – His third at Texas was highly notable in that he managed it on much older tires to close the race while still making some daring moves for the lead.
3. Josef Newgarden (NR) – The two-time champion admitted to harboring some self-doubt after such a mediocre St. Pete, but the Team Penske superstar and team quickly came all the way back.
4. Scott Dixon (4) – He backed up a second-place effort in qualifying with a fifth in the race -- his fifth consecutive top five at Texas.
5. Marcus Ericsson (2) – After a surprisingly weak effort in qualifying (16th), Ericsson put together a typically solid race to finish a lap down in eighth.
6. Scott McLaughlin (6) – Also saddled with a midpack starting spot (15th), McLaughlin lacked the speed of teammate Newgarden but still fought his way to a top 10 finish.
7. Callum Ilott (7) – Juncos Hollinger Racing is the season’s clear-cut surprise. Ilott backed up a career best with a ninth at Texas, and teammate Agustin Canapino (12th in his oval debut) was just as impressive.
8. Romain Grosjean (5) – The Andretti Autosport is buried at 15th in the points standings, but the results aren’t indicative of how well he ran (and led) in the first two races.
9. Colton Herta (NR) – After some off-track drama with a strategist change leading into Texas, Herta led four laps on the way to a workmanlike seventh.
10. David Malukas (NR) – “Little Dave” now has finished fourth, second and eighth in his last three oval races and is emerging as an Indy 500 dark horse.
Falling out: Alexander Rossi (3), Graham Rahal (8), Will Power (10)