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

UPDATED: INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama under red-flag race stoppage due to rain

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UPDATE: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is under a red-flag race stoppage after 19 laps due to rain and puddling on the racing surface at Barber Motorsports Park.

Cleaners and dryers are on the track to try and get some of the water off the racing surface. The low spots on the track, as well as the front stretch, have been particularly troublesome and led to several spinouts and at least two wrecks (Charlie Kimball and outside front pole sitter Will Power).

Power’s day is done after suffering irreparable damage to the left side of his car after hydroplaning on the front straight and running into the inside retaining wall.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

Although rain has been falling for nearly an hour and the Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile permanent road course is drenched, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is underway on NBCSN.

The start of the race was moved up from 3:38 p.m. ET to take the green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET.

Josef Newgarden is the defending winner of this race and also will start from the pole for today’s race.

While the race is scheduled for 90 laps, there’s a possibility that if the weather worsens or if lightning appears, it could potentially be shortened to just two hours.

As can be expected, all cars are on rain tires to maximize grip.

Catch the race live on NBCSN.