There was plenty of discussion around the first power rankings that I put out prior to the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Some couldn’t believe I left Will Power off, others thought Alexander Rossi should have been way ahead of Graham Rahal, it was all fun to read. A driver that was left off, Scott McLaughlin who dominated the weekend, collecting max points, his first career win and a stinky shotgun of Miller High Life in victory circle. Let’s take a look at the latest Burnout Sports power rankings after one round in the book.
The ratings for the race are worth noting as well. There were over 200,000 fans in attendance over three days at St. Pete, and believe me, the place was jammed packed, IndyCar earned it’s best non Indy 500 rating since 2011.
NEW TO THE TOP 10
1. ALEX PALOU: (PREVIOUS #1) What? How can the guy who won the pole and the race not be #1 ? Palou drove from 10th to 2nd in a race that was hard to pass. Palou is out to prove that last year was no fluke. The guy is a generational talent and a driver that will be contending in the series for the next decade or so.
2. SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: (PREVIOUS NOT RANKED) A major underdog heading into the weekend despite being with Team Penske. McLaughlin is a likable dude that celebrated the hell out of his first win by falling and busting his ass when he climbed from the cockpit. He now takes this momentum to Texas, the site of his 2021 season best 2nd place finish.
3. WILL POWER: (PREVIOUS NOT RANKED) The only thing more impressive than his charge to the podium was his post race quotes on the blue flag rule. Power is now 11th in career Top 10s with 158. He also celebrated his birthday at Disney World this week.
4. COLTON HERTA: (PREVIOUS #4) Herta was the odds on favorite heading into the weekend but was slightly off race pace and had to save fuel late in the running. All in all a 4th place finish was what presented itself this weekend which was a good start to the 2022 season.
5. ROMAIN GROSJEAN: (PREVIOUS #10) Indy’s most popular drive had the #28 DHL machine back towards the front of the field all weekend. He set the pace in practice 1 of the weekend and qualified inside the top 5 resulting in a 5th place finish. He also deserved credit for handling his scooter with ease as fans swarmed him to and from the pit area.
6. RINUS VEEKAY: (PREVIOUS WEEK NOT RANKED) VeeKay had pace throughout most of the weekend and if not for the yellow flying when it did, might have found himself on the podium. VeeKay led for 13 laps on the day. The talk in the offseason was if the third year driver could return to the form he showed in the first part of 2021. After round one, it looks like VeeKay is well on his way.
7. SCOTT DIXON: (PREVIOUS #5) Dixon had a quiet weekend before leading 26 laps in the race as different pit strategies played out. At the end of the day, the Iceman came home with an 8th place finish. That might seem disappointing, but Alex Palou had an average finish of 7.1 en route to winning last year's championship. Most drivers would call it a solid weekend leading 26 laps and scoring a top 10, but for Dixon, it was a disappointing day.
8. GRAHAM RAHAL: (PREVIOUS #8) I had Graham 8th on the preseason list and an 8th place finish will keep him there this week. If he can find a way to get into the top 6 in qualifying on a road or street course, he will land on the podium a few times in 2022 and maybe even a win.
9. MARCUS ERICSSON: (PREVIOUS #6) Ericsson has landed a Top 10 finish in 15 of his last 17 road and street courses dating back to the end of 2020. Ericsson started 8th and finished 9th, a solid effort to the start of the season.
10. TAKUMA SATO: (PREVIOUS WEEK NOT RANKED) Sato recorded his third straight top 10 finish at St. Pete in his first race with Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware. Despite being punted from behind by Grosjean in practice, Sato solidly drove to a 10th place finish after starting 22nd and showing no pace throughout the practice sessions.
The series gained plenty of momentum to start the season off in St. Pete. The event saw record crowds and brought in more than 130 million dollars to the community. IndyCar now waits three weeks before it’s next race from Texas. The series has a few planned tests during that gap and we should have a clearer picture on the Indy 500 entry list by month's end.
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