The IndyCar Series couldn’t ask for much more. The Championship battle is likely going to come down to the final race; a 500 mile spotlight at Auto Club Speedway. The top four drivers are all within 28 points of the lead, and three of them are seeking their first Championship.
You have arguably the most successful modern-day driver (Dixon), one of the most popular drivers (Helio), one of the sports’ rising stars (Hunter-Reay), and one of the best open-wheel driving talents the series has ever seen (Power) involved in one of the tightest battles in recent memory.
Right now Power leads Hunter-Reay by five points, Helio by 26 points, and Dixon is 28 points behind. The last three races, Sonoma, Baltimore, and Fontana could provide a clue as to who has the edge. Power leads the points, and the next two races look golden for him. Last year in Sonoma he started on pole and won the race. He then did the same thing at Baltimore. Aside from a problem with his Chevy engine, he could be impossible to stop.
Hunter-Reay finished tenth at Sonoma last year, and eight at Baltimore. Helio was runner-up in Sonoma while finishing 17th in Baltimore. Dixon finished in fifth place at both events in 2011. The tricky part is Fontana, since the series hasn’t raced there since 2005.
When it comes to the oval, who is the favorite? Hunter-Reay has won the last two oval events this year, and the other three drivers have yet to score a win on an oval in 2012. Momentum could also big a huge factor when it’s all said and done.
Power and Dixon have had solid runs at Mid-Ohio, as they were the class of the field. Power had a huge jump to take the lead in the standings, and Dixon got back in the race with his timely win. Things didn’t go so well for the other two contenders.
Hunter-Reay struggled during qualifying and had a faulty engine in the race that cost him big. Helio’s incident with Mike Conway injured his hand and hampered his whole weekend. Neither driver was a factor in the race, and both Power and Dixon were able to gain significant ground.
For the series and their fans, the final three races of the season are going to provide plenty of excitement, drama, and frustration. If you ask me, I wouldn’t have it any other way.