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2010 IndyCar at Homestead-Miami Speedway - IndyCar goes down to the wire

Published by Leigh O'Gorman

As the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season comes to a close this weekend, the hunt for the title rests between two protagonists - Penske Racing's Will Power and Dario Franchitti of Chip Ganassi Racing.

Incredibly after 16 race meetings over the six-and-a-half months, the pair are only separated by 11 points going into the Homestead race.

Whereas this will be Power's first title run-in, Franchitti is an old hand already having already taken two IndyCar Championships (2007 and 2009).  The 37 year-old Scot also narrowly missed out on the CART title in 1999 when he was pipped by Juan-Pablo Montoya - all this is the kind of experience that the Ganassi man will need to call on as he attempts to secure a hat-trick of IndyCar Championships.

So far this year, Franchitti has taken three wins (including his second Indianapolis 500) to Power's five victories; however where Power has been the star of the field on the road and street courses, but has yet to convert that form into oval track success.  It is something that may well play into the hands of the Ganassi driver.

Right now, should Franchitti win and take the bonus points for most laps led, then the Championship is his regardless of what Power does.  Power, on the other hand, will take the title if he simply finishes ahead of the Ganassi driver.

Franchitti starts on pole for the race, with Power getting away from 3rd spot.

The best of the rest?

In between the title protagonists on the grid is Scott Dixon.  The Kiwi has not had the most consistent of years in the series.  A victory at Kansas at the beginning of May set the Ganassi driver up for a decent run into the summer stretch, but a number of rather anonymous runs in the mid-season meant the two-time champion fell away from the title battle some time ago.  Dixon picked up a second win when Helio Castroneves (Penske) was stripped of a victory at Edmonton in very questionable circumstances, but it was simply not enough to kick Dixon's title run into life.

Castroneves himself is on something of a run at the moment.  Like Dixon, the Brazilian has also had a quiet mid-season, but the Penske driver has had something of a late season renaissance with victories at both Kentucky and Motegi to go with his win at Barber Motorsports Park at the beginning of the year.  Castroneves heads Dixon in the Championship standings by 4 points as they fight for 3rd overall.

Considering his 2009 title challenge, Ryan Briscoe has had something of a difficult year for Penske.  One win at Texas has not done much to mask a largely uneventful year, peppered with some quiet runs and mistakes.

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan find themselves locked in a battle to be the best of the Andretti-Autosport foursome.  Both have taken at least one race this year (Hunter-Reay at Long Beach; Kanaan at Iowa) and are separated by 8 points, with Hunter-Reay having the advantage.

The year started with some uncertainty for Hunter-Reay - the American was originally taken on only part-time, but following some excellent runs, he was signed full time at the half way point of the season. 

Sadly though, Hunter-Reay's season will mostly be remembered for his accident with Dreyer & Reinbold's Mike Conway at the end of the Indianapolis 500.  Running out of fuel with only a tiny distance left, Hunter-Reay was collected by Conway, who was then catapulted into the catch fencing and left with multiple injuries.

The popular Tony Kanaan has spent much of the year battling from 6th-10th positions in the races and has struggled on a few occasions due to poor qualifying.  Neither Marco Andretti (9th in points) nor Danica Patrick (11th in the Championship) have had the best of seasons - Andretti has found himself outside the top ten just as much as has been inside it, while Patrick has often appeared lost as she bounces between IndyCar and the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Dan Wheldon may be about to drive his last race for Panther Racing tonight.  While it hasn't been a spectacular season by any stretch of the imagination for the Manchester-born driver, it has not been a stellar one either - right now he is level on points with Marco Andretti.  Three top-3 finishes have run alongside some invisible performances as Wheldon struggles to recreate his 2005 title-winning form - Wheldon is currently 8th in the standings.  Part-time team mate Ed Carpenter has run three races so far this year for Panther / Vision Racing - he has had decent performances (especially Kentucky) and will be starting his fourth event of 2010, as Carpenter works to get a full-time seat once again.

Justin Wilson is battling with Andretti and Wheldon for 8th in the Championship - the Englishman may be at a disadvantage though.  Despite having shown well on road and street circuits, he has still to make a breakthrough on ovals.  Wilson's team mate at Dreyer and Reinbold Racing was Mike Conway until his Indianapolis accident - the seat has since then been filled by various drivers.

Alex Tagliani has shown that it is possible to co-own a team and driver and achieve some moderate success.  Several top-5's see the veteran Canadian run 12th in the standings.  Tagliani is battling for the top-12 in the Championship with Vitor Meira (13th, AJ Foyt Enterprises), Raphael Matos (14th, de Ferran/Dragon Racing) and Mario Moraes (15th, KV Racing).  KV Racing have had a truly awful season - crash after crash has left the 3-car team mired in the points race with EJ Viso down 16th and IndyCar rookie, Takuma Sato in 21st.  Much was expected of the ex-Formula 1 driver and nothing has been delivered.

Sarah Fisher has run a part time schedule this year and there have been rumours that she may hang up her helmet at the end of this race.  While Fisher has performed her same respectable self (she ran very well at Chicagoland for a time), she was one of the teams that gave popular American Graham Rahal seat time, allowing Rahal the opportunity to move into the top-20 in the standings

Rookie of the Year

Sato will not even get to claim Rookie of the Year - with 52 points available, Dale Coyne Racer Alex Lloyd leads HVM driver Simona de Silvestro by 18 points; however it is extremely unlikely that either of that pair will reach the higher echelons of the points.  De Silvestro has proved to be very popular with fans of the series so far this year, as she continues to deliver good runs in a perennial backmarker of a car.  Lloyd's Dale Coyne team mate, Milka Duno is a backmarker in every sense of the word.

Bertrand Baguette has had a credible season at Conquest Racing - the Belgian rookie has adapted well to the ovals and had some smart performance.  His original team mate, Mario Romancini ran out of funds following the Edmonton race and has since been replaced by various drivers.

Homestead-Miami Speedway, Qualifying (October 1st)
PosDriverTeamAve Speed
1.Dario FranchittiChip Ganassi Racing213.187mph
2.Scott DixonChip Ganassi Racing212.908mph
3.Will PowerTeam Penske212.580mph
4.Ryan BriscoeTeam Penske212.158mph
5.Dan WheldonPanther Racing211.933mph
6.Justin WilsonDreyer and Reinbold211.630mph
7.Ed CarpenterPanther/Vision Racing211.444mph
8.Tony KanaanAndretti-Autosport211.392mph
9.Takuma SatoKV Racing211.355mph
10.Helio CastronevesTeam Penske211.240mph
11.Danica PatrickAndretti-Autosport211.013mph
12.EJ VisoKV Racing210.928mph
13.Mario MoraesKV Racing210.741mph
14.Bertrand BaguetteConquest Racing210.738mph
15.Ana BeatrizDreyer and Reinbold210.715mph
16.Marco AndrettiAndretti-Autosport210.698mph
17.Sarah FisherSarah Fisher Racing210.671mph
18.Graham RahalNewman/Haas210.629mph
19.Alex TaglianiFAZZT Racing210.520mph
20.Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti-Autosport210.030mph
21.Vitor MeiraAJ Foyt Enterprises210.017mph
22.Alex LloydDale Coyne Racing209.433mph
23.Raphael MatosDe Ferran/Dragon Racing209.311mph
24.Sebastian SaavedraConquest Racing209.308mph
25.Simona de SilvestroHVM Racing208.986mph
26.Hideki MutohNewman/Haas208.579mph
27.Milka DunoDale Coyne Racing207.961mph
2010 IZOD IndyCar Championship (Round 17, Qualifying)
1.Will PowerTeam Penske587
2.Dario FranchittiChip Ganassi Racing576
3.Helio CastronevesTeam Penske501
4.Scott DixonChip Ganassi Racing497
5.Ryan BriscoeTeam Penske450
6.Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti-Autosport426
7.Tony KanaanAndretti-Autosport418
8.Dan WheldonPanther Racing366
9.Marco AndrettiAndretti-Autosport366
10.Justin WilsonDreyer and Reinbold349
11.Danica PatrickAndretti-Autosport327
12.Alex TaglianiFAZZT Racing286
13.Vitor MeiraAJ Foyt Enterprises282
14.Raphael MatosDe Ferran/Dragon Racing277
15.Mario MoraesKV Racing277
16.EJ VisoKV Racing250
17.Alex Lloyd (R)Dale Coyne Racing248
18.Hideki MutohNewman/Haas238
19.Simona de Silvestro (R)HVM Racing230
20.Graham RahalNewman/Haas215
21.Takuma Sato (R)KV Racing202
22.Bertrand Baguette (R)Conquest Racing198
23.Milka DunoDale Coyne Racing172

What of Indy Lights?

Frenchman JK Vernay only has to start his engine this evening to take the Indy Lights title. The Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver is some 48 points ahead of challenger James Hinchcliffe and over 100 points ahead of Charlie Kimball in 3rd. Martin Plowman is only 7 points shy of Kimball as he battles for a top-three finish.

Pippa Mann continues her run of late form with pole for this evening's race - she was only 10th in the standing three races ago, but will look to make top 5 by the chequered flag tonight.

Homestead-Miami Speedway, Qualifying (October 1st)
PosDriverTeamTime (seconds)Ave Speed (mph)
1Pippa MannSam Schmidt Motorsports57.2999186.597
2Charlie KimballAFS / Andretti-Autosport57.3782186.343
3Brandon WagnerDavey Hamilton Racing57.4754186.027
4Philip MajorSam Schmidt Motorsports57.5151185.899
5Wade CunninghamSam Schmidt Motorsports57.5373185.827
6James HinchcliffeTeam Moore Racing57.5373185.827
7Gustavo YacamanCape Motorsport / Wayne Taylor Racing57.6442185.483
8Martin PlowmanAFS / Andretti-Autosport57.6479185.471
9Sean GuthrieAndersen Racing57.6587185.436
10Adrian Campos Jr.Team Moore Racing57.6866185.346
11Henry ClarkeDavey Hamilton Racing57.8194184.921
12Dan ClarkeWalker Racing57.8194184.921
13J.K. VernaySam Schmidt Motorsports57.9153184.614
14Daniel HerringtonO2 Racing Technology58.0053184.328
15Dillon BattistiniBryan Herta Autosport58.1707183.804
16Arie Luyendyk Jr.Alliance Motorsports58.2679183.497
17Rodrigo BarbosaPDM Racing59.0573181.045
2010 IZOD IndyCar Championship (Round 17, Qualifying)
1JK Vernay479
2James Hinchcliffe431
3Charlie Kimball371
4Martin Plowman364
5Sebastian Saavedra303
6Dan Clarke291
7Pippa Mann283
8Gustavo Yacaman279

As the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season comes to a close this weekend, the hunt for the title rests between two protagonists - Penske Racing's Will Power and Dario Franchitti of Chip Ganassi Racing.  Incredibly after 16 race meetings over the six-and-a-half months, the pair are only separated by 11 points going into the Homestead race.

Event start

00:00GMT +01:00

3 October 2010