Indycar-The Fight in Fontana

Will Power. Ryan Hunter-Reay. Helio Castroneves. Scott Dixon. These are the drivers that still (theoretically) have a shot at winning the Astor Cup as IZOD Indycar Series Champion at the World Championship to be held in Fontana, California on September 15. Of the four, only Dixon has previously won a championship. Power currently leads the standings with Hunter-Reay a tight second. Here’s a quick breakdown of the title fight contenders and scenarios.

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1. Will Power (Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) 3 wins, 5 Poles, 453 points.
After knocking out three consecutive wins at Barber, Long Beach and Sao Paulo, it seemed as if 2012 would be a typical Will Power season. Instead, Will suffered a disastrous finish at Indy , more calamity at Iowa, and mediocre runs at Milwaukee at Toronto. Eventually, Will would lose the points lead to Ryan Hunter-Reay, but he’d take it back after capitalizing on Hunter-Reay’s poor finishes at Mid Ohio and Sonoma. Will’s questionable history at ovals means that even though he leads points, winning the title is an uphill battle.

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2. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport Chevrolet) 4 wins, o Poles, 436 points.
If you’d told me at the start of the season that Ryan Hunter-Reay would be in the championship hunt at Fontana, I would have seriously questioned your sanity. Hunter-Reay, while showing flashes of brilliance throughout his career, has never exactly been the most consistent driver. Even though Hunter-Reay struggled at Barber, Indy and Texas, his other results were consistent enough to keep him high in standings. Then, the floodgates opened at Milwaukee as Ryan reeled off three wins in a row, tacking on wins at Iowa and Toronto before adding a fourth win at Baltimore. Hunter-Reay is a better oval racer than Power, but can Hunter-Reay bring the whole package for the biggest weekend of his life?

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3. Helio Castroneves (Team Penske Chevrolet) 2 wins, 1 Pole, 401 points.
Castroneves has won three Indianapolis 500s, but never a points championship. It’s a pretty gaping hole in his career resume, and it probably won’t be filled this season. His season started out hot with an emotional win at St. Petersburg and a Pole at Barber, but 13th at Long Beach and being a non-factor at Indy pretty much deflated any season long aspirations. Helio picked up a rather popular win at Edmonton, but then sank back to mediocrity at Mid-Ohio. Maybe a good offseason participating on “Dancing With The Stars” again can re-energize Castroneves and help him get that elusive series championship in 2013.

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4. Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) 2 wins, 1 Pole, 400 points.
If not for some unfortunate mechanical problems this season, Scott Dixon my very well be a major player in this championship. 23rd at Long Beach, 17th at Sao Paulo, 18 from a crash while leading at Texas, 25th at Toronto and 13th at Sonoma interrupted his usual consistently high finishes. Dixon is always a contender, but the wheels just seemed to fall off at the worst possible times this season. There’s no doubt in my mind that Scott can’t right ship in 2013 and once again battle for the points championship.

Will Power wins the Championship If:
A. Ryan Hunter-Reay finishes 6th or lower with no bonus points
B. Ryan Hunter-Reay wins pole AND leads the most laps AND finishes 7th or lower
C. Ryan Hunter-Reay wins the race with no bonus points AND Power finishes 3rd or higher.

Ryan Hunter-Reay wins the Championship If:
A. Hunter-Reay wins and Power finishes lower than 3rd.
B. Hunter-Reay wins with all bonus points and Power finishes lower than 2nd.

Both Dixon and Castroneves are eliminated as long as Will Power starts the race.

Catch the IZOD Indycar Series World Championship, the MavTV 500 from Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on NBC Sports Network this coming Saturday, September 15 at 8:30pm ET.


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