Championship battle not only race to be decided in last two races
The IZOD IndyCar Series championship chase between front-runner Will Power and Dario Franchitti isn't the only points battle to keep an eye on in the final two races of the season.
Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, takes an 11-point advantage over Franchitti into the Oct. 2 Kentucky Indy 300 at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway, where neither has won. Franchitti has one top five (advancing six positions to finish fifth last year) in six trips to the oval; Power's best finish is eighth in 2010 in three races.
JR Hildebrand's seventh-place finish in the Indy Japan on Sept. 18 -- after starting 19th in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car -- equaled his season high on a road/street course and helped increase his lead over James Hinchcliffe to 14 points in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year duel.
There's also close races developing between drivers seeking to finish in the top five and top 10. Oriol Servia, who drove the No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing car to fifth place at Twin Ring Motegi, is fourth in the standings -- 44 points ahead of Tony Kanaan.
"To finish fifth after starting 16th is a great result for the Telemundo team," said Servia, who posted his third top five in the past four races. "It was important for the point standings because everyone we are fighting to stay in the top five had a bad race. We came into Japan wanting to strengthen our championship point and we were able to do that. Now we are heading to two oval races where we have high hopes for strong races."
Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske is solidly in the top 10 (sixth with 340 points), which is 13 points more than Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport and 23 ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay. Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves are tied with 302, while Alex Tagliani is currently 11th with 296.
Danica Patrick is 12th with 294, outpacing Hildebrand (284), Takuma Sato (282), Vitor Meira (273) and Hinchcliffe (270).