With two to go, IndyCar title race wide open

Two races remaining with 158 points up for grabs.

With two to go, IndyCar title race wide open
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Detail view of the cockpit of Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Ten drivers representing six teams. Five drivers with two victories apiece. Nine points separating first and second; 59 points separating the top five. Two races remaining with 158 points up for grabs.

Those are essential numbers to note as the Verizon IndyCar Series charges into the homestretch of the season with the driver and entrant championships on the line. The ABC Supply 500 on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway tri-oval Aug. 23 will be critical for every driver to score maximum points and remain in contention heading into the Aug. 30 finale at Sonoma Raceway.

To be nine points back, I feel pretty good because I do think we can be better than Montoya at Sonoma,

Graham Rahal

It's guaranteed that the championship will be decided in the last race of the season for the 10th consecutive year. A caveat this year is that the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma carries double race points, plus the usual potential four bonus points. The winner is bolstered by 100 base points, second is worth 80, third place carries 70 and so on. Drivers within 104 points of the leader exiting Pocono remain eligible.

Juan Pablo Montoya of Team Penske has led the driver standings since winning the March 29 season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and takes a nine-point advantage over the surging Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to the "Tricky Triangle" in eastern Pennsylvania. Three-time series champion Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing is 34 points out of first.

Team Penske's Simon Pagenaud, who scored a season-best third-place finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 2, is 10th in the standings. Last year, there were six drivers in contention with two races left.

"Our strength at Team Penske is the superspeedways," Pagenaud said. "Going into Pocono, obviously Montoya won last year. That should be a pretty similar setup to Indy. We feel pretty confident going into Pocono that our cars should be hopefully in domination mode again so we can have a shot at it."

Rahal's victory at Mid-Ohio, coupled with Montoya's 11th-place showing, sliced the deficit from 42 points to nine.

"To be nine points back, I feel pretty good because I do think we can be better than Montoya at Sonoma," said Rahal, who has six podium finishes this season. "Pocono, he won last year, so we're going to have to make sure we do a good job. Then again, the last big oval (Auto Club Speedway on June 27) we won."

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