Montoya increases points lead, but not happy with how it happened (VIDEO)

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With closest points challenger Will Power being involved in a late-race wreck in Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, Juan Pablo Montoya finished fourth to extend his points lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Montoya came into Saturday’s race with a 27-point lead over Power. But with the latter’s wreck with Takuma Sato, Montoya now leads Power, who remains in second, by 46 points.

Scott Dixon remains in third, but closes the gap to just a 49-point spread between himself and Montoya. And race-winner Graham Rahal goes from 91 points behind Montoya to 73 points in arrears.

But Montoya also was not happy with the way Saturday’s race played out at the Fontana, Calif., track, particularly the tight pack racing at speeds well over 200 mph.

“Honestly, I felt it was a little too stupid,” Montoya said. “I talked to IndyCar yesterday and we shouldn’t be racing like this.”

Two late-race wrecks – the first involving Will Power and Takuma Sato, and the second involving Montoya, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ryan Briscoe – didn’t have to happen, Montoya said.

“This is full pack racing and sooner or later, somebody’s going to get hurt,” he said. “We don’t need to be doing this.”

Even though Hunter-Reay’s car bounced off Montoya’s car in the final wreck of the race, the latter’s didn’t suffer any damage and he was able to motor on to his fourth-place showing.

“We have a hell of a show and everything,” Montoya said. “But we did what we had to do.

“We had a hell of a car. When there was one crash (Power/Sato) and another crash (Hunter-Reay/Briscoe), my only goal was to finish ahead of (Scott) Dixon and we did that. It’s good.“

As for Graham Rahal, who was essentially the beneficiary of the final wreck, as he won the race under caution, Montoya had no quibble.

“He drove a hell of a race,” Montoya said of Rahal. “He deserves the win.”

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Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.