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.