With three races to go, IndyCar 2015 could still set a new record for most winners in a single season

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Ryan Hunter-Reay’s first victory in a year at last night’s Iowa Corn 300 has kept alive the possibility of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season setting a new record for the most different winners.

Back in June, we took a look at the pursuit of the record that currently stands at 11 from 2000, 2001 and 2014.

Hopes of a new record appeared to be fading after Josef Newgarden became a repeat winner at the Honda Indy Toronto, leaving the figure at seven with six races remaining.

In the three races that have followed, though, another two new winners have emerged in 2015. Graham Rahal ended his win drought at Fontana, and with Hunter-Reay winning last night’s race at Iowa Speedway, the figure stands at nine with three races to go.

So although the record remains within reach, it is still a long shot. Hitting the magic number of 12 would require a winless final trio of races for Rahal, Hunter-Reay, Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Josef Newgarden and Carlos Munoz.

The ninth winner is James Hinchcliffe, who was ruled out for the rest of the reason due to injuries sustained in a crash at Indianapolis ahead of the Indy 500 back in May.

It is worth noting that some big names are missing from 2015’s list of winners, meaning that the record is perhaps not as unthinkable as first thought.

The leading winless driver in the standings is Helio Castroneves. Ranking third and with just 54 points to make up to Montoya at the top, the Brazilian is very much in the thick of the title race despite never gracing the top step of the podium.

Castroneves has come close, though. He has claimed three pole positions and led the most laps at three races, and very nearly completed a last-to-first charge in Milwaukee last weekend. If anyone is going to become the tenth different winner of 2015, it will be Helio.

Don’t discount the other Brazilian on the grid, though. Tony Kanaan is another driver who arguably should have won a race in 2015, coming closest at Fontana when he finished just three-tenths of a second behind Rahal at the checkered flag.

Had it not been for an engine issue on Saturday night in Iowa, the Kanaan may well have been in the fight for the win at the end. He is another driver to look out for in the final trio of races, particularly at Pocono given Ganassi’s strength on ovals so far this year.

So on the assumption that Castroneves and Kanaan win a race apiece in the final three rounds, 2015 will match the record. But who could be Mr. or Ms. 12?

Marco Andretti certainly has a good case given his consistency across the course of the season. The American has finished outside of the top ten in just three of the 13 races, lifting him to seventh in the standings with two podium finishes to his name.

Simon Pagenaud’s first year with Penske has been more about stability than success as he becomes accustomed to the team. The Frenchman has just two top tens in the last six races, though, and would need to buck the trend of his recent form if he wants to claim his first win of the year.

In reality though, another winner could come from anywhere. Sage Karam proved on Saturday that he has the fight and tenacity to battle at the front (even if Ed Carpenter was less than impressed). Charlie Kimball got in the mix at the Indy 500 back in May, finishing third overall. Takuma Sato is also a former winner.

The race to hit 12 is not yet over, and if we were to add another three names to the list of winners in 2015, it would have serious implications on the title race.

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

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It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway