Montoya maintains points lead at halfway mark

Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya leads the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings

Winning the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and the 99th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race have helped Juan Pablo Montoya maintain the top spot in the championship standings through the halfway point of the season.

There have been seven different winners in the eight races.

The Indy 500 was worth double points, as is the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 30, so Montoya collected a cool 101 points for his second victory on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. He's contributed three other top-five finishes to the total, and takes a 21-point lead over Team Penske teammate and reigning series champion Will Power into the June 6 Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Even consecutive 10th-place finishes in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans last weekend didn't impact his standing as much as other title contenders.

Power sits second to Montoya in the championship.

Power placed fourth in Race 1 after setting the track qualifying lap record and earning the Verizon P1 Award for the pole position, and an 18th place in Race 2 after being involved in a late-race incident with teammate Helio Castroneves. It ended his streak of 32 consecutive races running at the finish.

Dixon, who won at Long Beach, lost two points to Montoya with fifth- and 20th-place finishes. He also was involved in a Race 2 incident with a teammate, Charlie Kimball.

"We gained points on Will with a 10th-place finish so it's not a terrible day," said Montoya, who started Race 2 from the pole based on entrant points after a downpour canceled qualifications and led a field-high 35 laps before dropping to fourth on a late restart and fading to 10th as the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet was running out of fuel.

Graham Rahal, who has posted four top-five finishes in the past five races, moved up to fourth in the standings. He recovered from a Lap 1 incident in Race 1 to finish third in the second race.

"Obviously, we would like to be winning but that's three podiums in the last four road and street course races and three in the past five overall for the Steak 'n Shake team so I'm pretty proud of where we are at," said the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver, who finished 19th in the championship in 2014. "We don't necessarily always have the fastest car, but if we can get to the end and have good finishes we can be right there."

Dave Lewandowski
Verizon IndyCar Series

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