IndyCar title contenders could get whittled down at Sonoma

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After Mid-Ohio in 2012, there were just three races remaining in the IZOD IndyCar Series season. After Mid-Ohio this Sunday, there are five left in 2013.

Here’s a few championship tidbits to note from that:

  • With five races to go in 2012, Ryan Hunter-Reay actually led Will Power by 34 points, 335-301, following his third consecutive win of the season in Toronto.
  • A mechanical failure that hit Hunter-Reay at Mid-Ohio dropped him to second in points, 5 behind Power (379-374).
  • Next race in Sonoma, Power extended the lead from 5 to 36 (422-386) as Power finished second and RHR collided with Alex Tagliani.
  • Hunter-Reay closed the gap down to 17 points with a win in Baltimore and overtook Power at the last race.

This year, Hunter-Reay still has a chance, but he’ll have to claw back almost double the deficit to Power’s Team Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Castroneves leads Scott Dixon by 31 points (453-422) with RHR third, 65 back on 388. Marco Andretti still holds an outside shot at 76 points back with 377, but needs help, especially as he is yet to win this year.
  • Like at Mid-Ohio, Sonoma has been a Penske/Ganassi stranglehold for the last six years. Penske has three straight wins at the track. Andretti (2006), Dixon (2007) and Castroneves (2008) have a win apiece; Hunter-Reay has yet to finish better than eighth in six prior Sonoma starts. Andretti’s win in ’06 was the last outside the Penske/Ganassi stable.
  • With Castroneves not having failed to finish a single lap this year and with only one finish outside the top-10 (13th at Brazil), he’ll need to hit trouble to allow the Andretti Autosport pair into contention. Wins for Dixon though, can carry him past with the 10-plus point gap between first and second.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).