Despite his struggles yesterday, IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Helio Castroneves actually could still clinch the title in Race 2 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).
Castroneves can lock up the title if he wins and Scott Dixon finishes 19th or worse.
It’s likely between those two unless Simon Pagenaud, who is 50 points back, can make some substantial headway. Pagenaud was able to do so in the incident-affected races at Detroit Race 2 and Baltimore, both of which he won.
Marco Andretti (66 points behind Castroneves), Ryan Hunter-Reay (76) and Justin Wilson (85) are still mathematically eligible but have a remote shot at best.
Andretti needs at least a top-eight finish to stay alive, Hunter-Reay a top four and Wilson a top two. And in all three scenarios, they’d need the top two drivers to finish in the second half of the 12-car field.
All drivers 54 points or more behind the points leader after Race 2 will be mathematically eliminated. With a minimum 6 points available for a 24th place finish, the maximum of potential gain at Fontana, the season finale, will be 48 points – so realistically drivers need to be within that latter window to have any shot.
The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.
IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.
This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.
INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists
IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.
“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.
“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.