Post-Pocono points stats in IndyCar

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The IZOD IndyCar Series’ Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco marked the end of the series’ four-race run of ovals. The teams won’t have another run on one until the season-ending MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway at Fontana in October.

Exiting Detroit, Marco Andretti and Helio Castroneves were tied for the points lead on 206 apiece. Four races later, Castroneves leads Andretti’s teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay by 23 points (356-333), with Andretti 55 points behind in third.

Castroneves won at Texas to kick off this four-race oval stretch and has added top-10 finishes in the other three races. The Team Penske driver is the only driver in the field to have completed such a run on the diverse stretch of ovals: 1.5-mile (Texas), 1-mile (Milwaukee), 0.875-mile (Iowa) and 2.5-miles (Pocono).

Although Hunter-Reay and Andretti are further back, their results have not matched how well they’ve run. On pure pace, Andretti Autosport Chevrolets have been the fastest cars throughout the run of ovals. They’ve grabbed 12 of a possible 20 top-five starting positions in the four races, led 542 of 888 laps (61.03 percent), and won at both Milwaukee with Hunter-Reay and Iowa with James Hinchcliffe.

Hunter-Reay and Castroneves have scored 186 points apiece on all ovals this year, with Castroneves outscoring Hunter-Reay by eight, 150-142, in the last four races. Tony Kanaan (166), Ed Carpenter (145) and Andretti (140) round out the top five of those who have scored the most oval points this year.

Andretti, twice a polesitter in this stretch, had the hardest luck because leading at Pocono made him a victim of his own success. As he spent 88 laps in the lead, he burned fuel faster rather than those who could sit behind in the draft to save fuel and run longer. The Hondas had a slight advantage anyway.

Elsewhere in the points, Hinchcliffe has advanced four spots from ninth to fifth after Detroit, despite his first lap exit at Pocono, while Takuma Sato has, since Indianapolis, dropped from second to 10th in points.

See a comparison of where the points are now compared to where they were before this four-race run of ovals, below:

       Exiting Detroit 2, Round 7   Exiting Pocono, Round 11
1.	Marco Andretti, 206              Helio Castroneves, 356
2.	Helio Castroneves, 206           Ryan Hunter-Reay, 333
3.	Ryan Hunter-Reay, 191            Marco Andretti, 301
4.	Scott Dixon, 186                 Scott Dixon, 291
5.	Simon Pagenaud, 177              James Hinchcliffe, 272
6.	Takuma Sato, 175                 Tony Kanaan, 271
7.	Justin Wilson, 169               Simon Pagenaud, 269
8.	Tony Kanaan, 160                 Justin Wilson, 253
9.	James Hinchcliffe, 154           Will Power, 243
10.	Charlie Kimball, 149             Takuma Sato, 241

Theriault clinches ARCA title before finale at Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) There is no long, convoluted story about how Austin Theriault came to Ken Schrader Racing, forging a team that so dominated the ARCA Series that it captured the title simply by showing up for the finale.

“We both wanted something to do,” the folksy Schrader said with a smile and shrug before Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. “He didn’t have a car to drive and I didn’t have a driver.”

So, they solved each other’s problem.

Theriault hopped into the seat and proceeded to win seven times over the first 19 races, building such a lead on his nearest challenger that he sewed up the title at Kentucky. And that made for a rather enjoyable weekend at Kansas, where all the pressure was off their team.

Along the way, Theriault became the first driver to win at a superspeedway, short track, dirt track and road event in the same season, and he swept the superspeedway and short-track challenges.

If there was something to win, he won it.

“I hoped we’d have a shot at it and it’s proved out this year that we’ve really exceeded anybody’s expectations,” Theriault said. “We had some things to work on early. We kind of dusted off a bit, went back to work. We had some time between Daytona and the mile-and-a-halfs that came up later in the season, and we realized where we were strong and where we had to work.

“But in the end it came back to pure dedication, I think,” he explained. “The amount of time it took behind the scenes to make this happen.”

The 23-year-old driver from Fort Kent, Maine, knows something about dedication. He appeared to be on racing’s fast track, scoring a Truck Series ride a few years ago for Brad Keselowski, when a terrifying crash at Las Vegas left him with a broken back and sitting on the sidelines.

The best ride he could find last year was in the K&N Pro Series.

It was at a trade show in Indianapolis last December that Theriault ran into Schrader, who was busy putting together a team for this season. They had dinner a couple nights later and, Schrader said, it was his wife Ann who came away impressed by the yes-sir, no-sir driver.

“My wife doesn’t go to all the races,” Schrader said. “After we talked she said, `I like that guy. How good is he?’ She doesn’t know. I knew he was racing well in Keselowski’s truck, had an unfortunate wreck, had to sit out a bit. I told her, `That’s somebody who could make us very happy next year.”‘

Theriault delivered on that promise.

They weren’t the only ones happy Friday, either. Zane Smith earned his second pole of the season, beating teammate Sheldon Creed to earn the top spot for the Kansas ARCA 150, while 20-year-old Natalie Decker announced a full-time ride with Venturini Motorsports next season.

“This is obviously a big step in my career,” said Decker, who made six starts as a rookie this season. “I’m confident and ready for this next move. After tonight my focus shifts to next season. We’ll be ready to go at Daytona.”