What kind of a season has it been so far in the Verizon IndyCar series? Chip Ganassi's team has four cars and no wins while Ed Carpenter sports one car, two drivers and a pair of victories. Former champions Sebastian Bourdais and Tony Kanaan have each led one lap compared to rookie Jack Hawksworth's 32. Will Power has had four on-track penalties, two wins, three runner-ups and leads teammate Helio Castroneves in the point standings. Ryan Hunter-Reay is either brilliant or on the hook. Despite two DNFs, Marco Andretti ranks fifth in the standings.
That's the good, bad and ugly of the first eight races of 2014 and it's also time for the mid-season report cards – a tradition started 32 years ago by yours truly that is embraced by few, scorned by many but enough of a nuisance that Roger Penske puts down the Wall Street Journal for two minutes to look it over.
So here goes and, with credit to A.J. Foyt, no cryin' from any momma's boys about their grades. Suck it up and get better.
ED CARPENTER RACING Eddie Boy's decision to split the driving with Mike Conway has proved to be the smartest move in the paddock. Conway won Long Beach and had a fourth at Detroit while Carpenter captured Texas after winning the pole again at Indianapolis and being in position to win it before getting KO'd late. Engineer Matt Barnes, team manager Tim Broyles and the Fuzzy's Vodka crew have done an excellent job of playing musical chairs and proved a one-car operation with marginal funding can be formidable with the right people. Add their points together and Mike Carpenter/Ed Conway is sixth in the standings.
TEAM PENSKE Should always be graded on a steeper curve because of its budget, depth and experience but The Captain's three-pronged attack is clicking. Pit speed limit violations aside, Power is again the man to beat just about everywhere and has already led 279 laps. He's also teed off some fellow drivers with his aggression but doesn't seem the least bit deterred. Castroneves is certainly driving well enough (one win, one second at Indy and a pair of thirds) to be a champion and figures to push his teammate these final 10 races. Juan Montoya hasn't won yet but he's knocking off the rust and on the door of a victory.
ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT Considering RHR threw away Long Beach and had a couple of unforced errors at Detroit, to only be 60 points behind Power is a tribute to how good he's been everywhere else. His stirring triumph at Indianapolis was long overdue and coupled with a win at Barber, and seconds at IMS's road race and St. Pete, the 2012 champ is very much in the hunt and looks to be the lone threat to deny Team Penske a title. Marco Andretti was in contention for the win at Indianapolis before settling for third and he was a blur at Texas before blowing up but still needs to ramp up his road racing game. Carlos Munoz continues to impress with a podium at Long Beach and a fourth at Indy while James Hinchcliffe has qualified second fastest five times but has nothing to show for it because of myriad problems.