Montoya leads points as IndyCar hits the halfway mark

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Although he was frustrated after finishing 10th twice in Detroit, Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya still leads the Verizon IndyCar Series points standings at the halfway mark of the season.

Already eight of 16 races are in the books at the conclusion of this week’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans.

Here’s the points standings. Realistically, the title contenders fall to fifth-placed Helio Castroneves, at 70 points back of Montoya (315-245).

Scott Dixon rallied from 92 down at one point in 2013 (after 10 of 19 races), but he had two doubleheader weekends at Toronto and Houston still remaining at this juncture in that season.

Sebastien Bourdais and Marco Andretti, currently sixth and seventh at 87 and 91 points back of Montoya, respectively, are on the fringe of title contention.

Standings down to 20th-placed Stefano Coletti include all drivers who have competed in all eight races (except the injured James Hinchcliffe and road/street course-only Luca Filippi), with Sage Karam in 21st on down having missed one or more events.

1. 2-Juan Pablo Montoya, 315
2. 1-Will Power, 294
3. 9-Scott Dixon, 252
4. 15-Graham Rahal, 246
5. 3-Helio Castroneves, 245
6. 11-Sebastien Bourdais, 228
7. 27-Marco Andretti, 224
8. 67-Josef Newgarden, 206
9. 22-Simon Pagenaud, 193
10. 83-Charlie Kimball, 187
11. 26-Carlos Munoz, 180
12. 10-Tony Kanaan, 174
13. 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, 171
14. 14-Takuma Sato, 166
15. 98-Gabby Chaves, 133
16. 7-James Jakes, 132
17. 5-James Hinchcliffe, 129
18. 41-Jack Hawksworth, 128
19. 20-Luca Filippi, 120
20. 4-Stefano Coletti, 104

21. 8-Sage Karam, 77
22. 29-Simona de Silvestro, 66
23. 5-Conor Daly, 63
24. 6-JR Hildebrand, 57
25. 19-Tristan Vautier, 55
26. 17-Sebastian Saavedra, 47
27. 19-Francesco Dracone, 38
28. 5-Ryan Briscoe, 36
29. 24-Townsend Bell, 32
30. 18-Carlos Huertas, 31
31. 18-Rodolfo Gonzalez, 27
32. 48-Alex Tagliani, 27
33. 25-Justin Wilson, 25
34. 63-Pippa Mann, 16
35. 20-Ed Carpenter, 10
36. 32-Oriol Servia, 10
37. 19-James Davison, 10
38. 88-Bryan Clauson, 10
39. 91-Buddy Lazier, 0
40. 18-Rocky Moran Jr., 0

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.