For the seventh consecutive year, the IZOD IndyCar Title will be decided in the final race of the season.
The site is Auto Club Speedway, a place IndyCar has not raced at since 2005. The Championship comes down to two drivers, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay. While there is no doubt Power is the most talented driver in the series on road/street circuits, Power himself claims that Hunter-Reay is the best all-around talent in the sport.
It’s tough to say which driver has the advantage heading into the September 15 finale in Fontana. Power has a 17-point lead in the standings, but the 500-mile race is on an oval track, something he hasn’t quite conquered yet. Hunter-Reay has won two of the four oval races in the 2012 season.
Though neither driver has run at the track before, they will each have time to test on the 2-mile oval. Power will be there today (Sept 6) while both drivers will test on September 12.
The goal for each driver is the same; win the race. Beyond that, the possibilities are seemingly endless. The easiest way for Hunter-Reay to win the Title would be to win and sweep the three bonus points (for pole and most laps led). If he does that and Power finishes fourth or worse, Ryan wins. He also owns the tie-breaker (4 wins to Power’s 3), if one comes into play.
Hunter-Reay is on a hot streak having won four of the last seven races, including last week’s Grand Prix of Baltimore. Power has consistently been the quickest driver in the field, but bad luck seems to find him late in races. He hasn’t won since April 29 when he took the checkered flag in Sao Paulo.
Power is trying to avoid being the runner-up in the standings for the third consecutive year, after doing so behind Dario Franchitti the past two seasons. As long as he finishes first or second in the race on Saturday night, nothing Hunter-Reay can do will matter.
Both drivers are seeking their first career IndyCar Championship, which will certainly cement their legacy in open wheel racing. The MAV TV 500 IndyCar World Championships in Fontana are sure to provide plenty of fireworks. The race to decide the Championship begins at 8 pm ET.