Penske teammates Castroneves, Power now tied atop IndyCar standings

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With double points on offer, today’s Pocono IndyCar 500 threatened to shake up the Verizon IndyCar Series championship – and it did.

Will Power entered today with a 39-point advantage over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves. But on Lap 172, Power tacked to the inside twice on Castroneves while they battled for position, and ultimately drew a black flag from Race Control for blocking.

Castroneves finished runner-up to winner Juan Pablo Montoya, while Power finished 10th.

And what was once a 39-point lead for the Australian has vanished completely, as both men are now even atop the standings with seven races remaining in the season.

Only time will tell if this moment was when the 2014 IndyCar title fight truly shifted. But for now, Power’s momentum is gone – and to be frank, he only has himself to blame for that.

As for the rest of the title picture, both Simon Pagenaud and Montoya also gained some ground today, too.

Pagenaud, who won last weekend in the second race of the Houston doubleheader, finished a relatively quite sixth in today’s race. But in the championship, he’s moved up from fourth to third and now sits 44 points behind the two Penske drivers.

Montoya is also putting himself into contention for what would be his second Indy-car crown (CART, 2000). He was behind 116 points prior to today but after earning a big win from the pole position, he’s chopped his deficit down to 55 points.

His win continues what has been a hot streak for him as of late. He’s now claimed three podium finishes (third at Texas, second at Houston Race 1, win at Pocono) in the last four events.

Not faring as well today points-wise was Ryan Hunter-Reay, who slipped from third to fifth in the standings at 58 points behind Power and Castroneves – a loss of 17 points from where he stood post-Houston.

Here’s how the championship looks after today’s 500-miler in Pennsylvania:

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES STANDINGS (AFTER 11 OF 18 RACES)
T-1. 12-Will Power, Penske, 446 points
T-1. 3-Helio Castroneves, Penske, 446 points
3. 77-Simon Pagenaud, SPM, -44 points
4. 2-Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske, -55 points
5. 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti, -58 points
6. 34-Carlos Munoz, Andretti, -106 points
7. 25-Marco Andretti, Andretti, – 121 points
8. 9-Scott Dixon, Ganassi, -149 points
9. 8-Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi, -161 points
10. 11-Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH, -175 points

FIA returns Manor’s F1 entry fee for 2017

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Good news: Manor Grand Prix Racing Limited got a refund of an entry fee it paid to the FIA to run in this year’s F1 season.

Bad news: Manor still hasn’t run this year, and won’t be for the foreseeable future (especially as Manor’s former leadership staff is moving that team into FIA WEC’s new-look LMP1 class in addition to its LMP2 program).

Manor Group’s receivership outfit, Just Racing Services Limited, went into administration earlier this year. As there was no new buyer for the F1 team, Manor dropped from the 2017 grid before the season.

The FIA said it would return its entry fee to help Manor Group pay off outstanding debts.

It basically means nothing in the grand scheme of things since Manor missed out on 10th place in the constructor’s standings in 2016 and fell from the F1 grid as a result, but hey, it’s a goodwill gesture going into Thanksgiving this week.