With only four races left in the IZOD IndyCar Series season, things have definitely heated up in the championship points battle, as well as the Rookie of the Year fight. Yet as many drivers find their pace, still others struggle to discover what's needed to finish the season strong. Check out some of the drivers on the hot and cold side of the INDYCAR mercury right now:
Will Power: Power's won two straight races, putting him right back in the thick of the championship battle. He's also only 7 points behind Dario Franchitti for the Mario Andretti Trophy for most road course points. After some flat performances through the middle portion of the season, Power's returned to dominant form just in the nick of time.
Ryan Hunter-Reay: With the exception of Power, no driver has more points over the last four races than Hunter-Reay, two podiums, a win, and a Top 10 have shown the RHR we were all expecting to see at the beginning of the season.
Sèbastien Bourdais: Earlier this year, Bourdais and Dale Coyne Racing couldn't seem to finish a road course, let alone finish well in one. That's all changed now, with Bourdais nabbing three P6s and a P9. You have to be excited to see what he can do in the Baltimore Grand Prix, as his champion-level talent becomes more and more apparent.
James Hinchcliffe: No rookie has had more points over the last few races, as the Mayor of Hinchtown racks up Top 10 after Top 10. He's only 3 points behind JR Hildebrand, and has a very real shot at Rookie of the Year. If he doesn't make it to Japan, that could be a definitely momentum-killer, but right now he's flying high.
JR Hildebrand: Hildebrand hasn't been able to muster much in the last few races, which is one of the big reasons he finds himself with Hinch hot on his heels for Rookie of the Year honors. How the team does at Baltimore and Motegi is anyone's guess, but he needs some good results before heading to Kentucky and one of Panther Racing's favorite tracks.
Tony Kanaan: Whether it's bad luck or the engineering change, Kanaan's fortunes have been poor in the last few races. He crashed out at New Hampshire, and then struggled at Sonoma before retiring with mechanical issues. For a team that's been so very good this year, it's a jarring departure from the success they'd been having. TK and company will do what they can to reverse their fortunes this weekend at Baltimore, as he's still just behind Ryan Briscoe and Oriol Servia in the overall standings.
Marco Andretti: After his win at Iowa, it was hoped Marco Andretti would be in line for more top finishes. Unfortunately, that's certainly not been the case in recent weeks. A Kanaan/Tomas Scheckter/Marco gettogether at New Hampshire ruined that weekend for him, and was followed by a generally weak performance at Sonoma. You never know which Marco's going to show up, which means he could go from ice-cold to red-hot very quickly indeed.
Zachary Houghton runs www.indycaradvocate.com , which features regularly-updated INDYCAR, IZOD IndyCar Series, and Mazda Road to Indy interviews, commentary, and more. You can find him on Twitter at @indycaradvocate, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .