until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Top 10 IndyCar drivers ranked at mid-season

by Jack Benyon
8 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

While the top three in the IndyCar championship have had relatively normal seasons, one of the biggest teams having two drivers excluded and some surprise candidates up in the top 10 has made for a fascinating IndyCar season.

The Race traditionally offers an IndyCar mid-season driver rankings, with our IndyCar correspondent Jack Benyon taking on the task.

JR Hildebrand gives his take on the rankings in this week's The Race IndyCar Podcast above. What do you think of Benyon's rankings, and who would you move around? Let us know in the comments and on social media.

10 Scott McLaughlin

I’ll be honest, I tried really hard to pluck up the courage to put Santino Ferrucci in the top 10, but Scott McLaughlin hasn’t been bad enough to miss out on this list by any stretch, even if it's been a rough year.

As is the case with his Penske team-mate Josef Newgarden, it’s just not what we expect from such an ace driver.

McLaughlin did grab a wild pole at the Indianapolis 500, won at Barber Motorsports Park and bagged a podium at Road America. But costly errors at Detroit and Laguna Seca stand out in the memory.

He’d be fifth in the points without the disqualification for the push-to-pass scandal at St Petersburg, so it's not as bad as the championship perhaps makes it look.

Honorable mention - Santino Ferrucci

It's been well over 23 years since AJ Foyt finished in the top 12 of the IndyCar championship, but that's what Santino Ferrucci is on course to do this year.

The team's breakthrough was at the Indy 500 last year where it bagged a top three - and you kind of expect that from Foyt at the big event now, with Ferrucci scoring eighth this year. He's adding himself into that race's folklore as one of its best and consistent drivers with his first six starts resulting in top 10s.

But more importantly, with ex-Scott Dixon engineer Michael Cannon free to focus outside of the 500 now the performance is good there, and with a new technical tie-up with Team Penske, Ferrucci has five top 10s in eight races this year. It really is unprecedented for this smaller team.

There's been some real low-points like an unacceptable 'boyfriend' jibe at the Andretti pair of Kyle Kirkwood and Colton Herta which he later apologised for, and a weird on-track feud with Romain Grosjean. But results-wise it's been very, very strong.

9 Josef Newgarden

Newgarden makes this list on account of being the series’ best qualifier this year and the Indy 500 winner.

However, he’s tarnished by the push-to-pass scandal that led to him being disqualified from the opener like McLaughlin, and has only three top 10s this year with the 500 win, second at Road America and fourth at Long Beach.

Too many errors by him or his team in the other races mean he deserves to be out of championship contention. Although adding back in the win at St Pete, he’d still be fourth in the points, so that is worth factoring in when analysing where he is in the championship.

8 Pato O’Ward

For other drivers, being sixth in the championship with a win would be worth celebrating, but not for Pato O’Ward, who arguably for the first time since joining McLaren in 2020, is clearly not the team’s best driver in races this season. More on that shortly!

The St Pete win was handed to him via the Penske disqualifications, and after that, it’s been a big struggle.

Three finishes outside the top 10 in the following three faces - complete with some big errors at Long Beach and Barber where he hit team-mates - have at least been followed up by four-straight top eights that included a very strong effort at the Indy 500.

O’Ward could still turn this around and likely will. But judging on the first half of the year, this has been the kind of season a lot of drivers would be happy with, but not someone as good as O’Ward.

7 Felix Rosenqvist

Last year Meyer Shank Racing scored one top 10 finish in 34 finishes, and while it was an admittedly wild 2023 with things like Simon Pagenaud’s injury, to sign Felix Rosenqvist and have him score five top 10s in eight starts is frankly ridiculous!

He’s been one of the series' best qualifiers this year - including bagging the team’s first ever road/street course pole - and short of an engine-related retirement at the Indy 500, he only has two races outside the top 10, an 11th and 14th.

The last two races have been a bit underwhelming, and a big question remains over the short oval form this team can produce as its technical partnership with Andretti means it struggles in many of the same areas.

However, after three tough years at McLaren, Rosenqvist is showing his form of old and settling in to the team leader role he's always wanted.

6 Kyle Kirkwood

The only reason Kirkwood isn’t ahead of Andretti team-mate Herta is because he’s yet to score a podium this year.

Aside from that, he’s done everything I could have wanted based on learnings of 2023.

He was fast and won two races last year but like his maiden season with AJ Foyt, struggled to stay out of trouble and find the level of consistency the top title contenders somehow do.

Fast forward to 2024 and he has the best-worst finish in the series and has been in the top 10 at all but one race, 11th at the Indy GP. His average qualifying and race finish are very close to Herta despite having a more consistent season than his up-and-down team-mate.

There have been strategy things that haven't played out in search of that podium. It's coming.

5 Colton Herta

Herta has had a rollercoaster year and he’s held back from being higher on the list after his meltdown in Detroit where an awful overtaking move put him to the back after he'd been on pole, and the Indy 500 where he crashed out.

He still hasn’t proven he can be the consistent force of a Palou or a Dixon, but he has reclaimed his peak form with three podiums in eight races. A win does feel like it’s very close.

Herta’s clearly taken a step forward on the last couple of years, he’s just still not performing to his best. Very similar kind of year to O'Ward in that sense.

4 Alexander Rossi

Bet you weren’t expecting that were you?! But hear me out, Alexander Rossi deserves to be here.

If you take out the 18th at Road America for a wiring loom issue caused a wastegate failure and Barber where his wheel fell off after a pitstop - neither anywhere near being his fault - his average finish is sixth. Only Palou and Power are better.

I get that the three drivers behind him in the list are ahead in the championship, that his McLaren team-mate O’Ward is ahead in the points even. But O’Ward is having one of the worst seasons of his IndyCar career arguably, Herta’s made too many errors, and Kirkwood doesn’t have a podium.

Rossi has a podium and the consistency the other pair is lacking.

It's been a really tough year in terms of qualifying - he’s only been in the top 12 in half of the races - and that adds to the deficit, but in the races he’s been up there with IndyCar’s best. Laguna Seca's fourth-place start and third-place finish was a prime example of what he could be doing this year if he started in a better place.

Given that a) Rossi has to deal with the pressure of people asking him when he’ll start winning races again every year, and b) that it’s clearly so tough to be in the second or third car at McLaren, the improvement on last year is huge for Rossi.

But it's not going to be rewarded with another year at the team.

3 Scott Dixon

Only in a difficult run caused by mysterious gelatinous tyres - at Road America where he finished 21st - has Dixon stumbled, matching Ganassi team-mate Palou’s pair of wins in the year so far.

He and Will Power also have the advantage of the second half of the season being oval-heavy and featuring two new venues that Dixon has raced at before and Palou hasn't, so that will be the question of the second half of the year.

But these rankings are for the first half of the year, and while Dixon is the third of the leading trio, it’s a tight-knit bunch in which any could win the title. That’s a nice position to put yourself in.

2 Will Power

Much has been made of this, but given he spent much of his title defence last year fearing for his wife’s health and future, Power has rebounded spectacularly.

He’s also 74 points clear of his nearest Penske team-mate McLaughlin. Even without their disqualifications for using push to pass at St Pete, that’s still a big gap.

The only blotch on his resume is a crash at the Indy 500, and I did briefly consider putting Dixon ahead on that basis, but Dixon has been outperformed by his team-mate Palou while Power has destroyed his stablemates in the points table.

He’s also starting around four positions higher per race than in 2023, as the best qualifier of the leading championship trio.

1 Alex Palou

Aside from being taken out by Newgarden in Detroit, this has been a very Palou year where he has a worst finish of fifth in eight points-paying races.

He’s only 39 points behind this stage last year when he had a worst finish of eighth and had racked up his third win compared to two so far this season.

So as you can tell, this year is very comparable to the 2023 season he ran away with and where he sealed the title two races early.

What more is there to say? He’s comfortably IndyCar’s best driver now and it’s no longer even a debate.

His competition will have to hope that Palou's newly-discovered clause in his contract allowing a 2025 F1 move is taken up sooner rather than later!

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