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.