Skip to content

Five IndyCar title contenders throw first haymakers in season-long fight

Mar 31, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

IndyCar AP

With Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud ending in the top five on Sunday behind St. Petersburg winner Will Power, you had five likely title contenders already throwing down their first punch in what should be a wide-open battle for this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

In 2012, these five were the top five finishers in the championship. In 2013, all bar Hunter-Reay ended in the top five, and that was more due to his poor luck than any drop-off in performance.

Power said after the race it was a mentally exhausting drive. Hunter-Reay said he pushed as hard as he could but just couldn’t catch the Australian and his 2012 title rival.

The 2013 title protagonists had similar opinions. Castroneves said this was the best thing he could do for a championship challenge; Dixon said this was a needed points day considering the No. 9 Target team has struggled traditionally at St. Pete.

Yet perhaps Pagenaud, in fifth in the No. 77 Environmental Rail Solutions Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, described it all best.

“It’s important when you are going for a championship, you realize you can’t compete for the win to get everything out of it. And today we got the best out of the car. We certainly had a top-five car and finished fifth. So it isn’t a bad day when you build championship contention. Power won today, but we’re in really good shape.”

In no race in 2013 did these five all finish in the top five in the same race. The closest they came was at Round 2 at Barber, when Hunter-Reay won with Dixon second, Castroneves third, Power fifth and Pagenaud sixth. Charlie Kimball in fourth was the only “title interloper.”

But in 2012, they came close to repeating this type of result at the St. Pete season opener. Castroneves won with Dixon second, Hunter-Reay third, Pagenaud sixth and Power seventh.

Latest Posts
  1. NASCAR: Ryan Ellis pokes fun at Jake Crum incident; decal later removed

    Aug 1, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT

    CrumEllis AP

    Inside joke goes a bit too far for NASCAR ahead of truck race in Pocono this weekend.

  2. Mallya up for a fight in the constructors’ championship

    Aug 1, 2014, 7:30 AM EDT

    Spanish F1 Grand Prix - Race Getty Images

    Force India owner confident of battling with Williams, Ferrari and McLaren until the end of the season.

  3. PWC: Acura TLX-GT set for debut at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT

    Photo: RealTime Racing Photo: RealTime Racing

    The Acura TLX-GT will make its debut at Mid-Ohio, later than planned but still on Honda’s home weekend.

  4. NASCAR AMERICA: Thursday round-up (VIDEO)

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:48 PM EDT

    Toyota Owners 400 - Practice Getty Images

    More analysis on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s new crew chief, Greg Ives, took center stage on Thursday’s NASCAR AMERICA on NBCSN.

  5. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 p.m. ET

    Jul 31, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

    140731-NASCAR-AMERICA

    Thursday’s NASCAR AMERICA lineup…

  6. Formula E: Malaysia date moves from October to November

    Jul 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Previews Getty Images

    Malaysian FIA Formula E round moves from October to November to accommodate prime minister’s wishes.

  7. IndyCar: A crucial weekend to commence at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 31, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 At Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud look to make headway on Team Penske teammates, while Chip Ganassi Racing seeks a six-pack of Mid-Ohio wins this weekend.

  8. Hysterical video: How the British envision NASCAR

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    nascar brits

    Anthony Richardson bills himself as the Bad British Commentator, and it definitely shows through here with his malapropisms and complete lack of understanding of the sport and world of NASCAR.

  9. What might the 2015 Sprint Cup schedule look like?

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images Getty Images

    There may not be wholesale changes, based upon what NASCAR chairman Brian France said recently, but next year’s Sprint Cup schedule will look different. Based upon various sources and things we’ve heard and/or read, we’re going to chime in with our ideas and why we think that way.

  10. As many as 4 more drivers can clinch Chase spot at Pocono

    Jul 31, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Chase for the sprint cup logo

    With six qualifying races left, a total of 10 more spots remain to be clinched to fill out the expanded 16-driver playoff field for this year’s 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.

  11. Mark Martin returning to Roush Fenway Racing in unique role

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT

    (Photo: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Legendary NASCAR driver Mark Martin is returning to Roush Fenway Racing. But don’t expect Martin, 55, to get back behind the wheel any time soon.

  12. Police seek large stolen Earnhardt memorabilia collection

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT

    (Illustration: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images) Getty Images

    If you collect NASCAR memorabilia and someone approaches you in the coming days with a deal that seems too good to be true – especially if it involves merchandise related to either Dale Earnhardt Sr. or Dale Earnhardt Jr. – it probably is.

  13. Report: Ferrari’s Engine and Electrics boss Luca Marmorini leaves team

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:50 AM EDT

    Hungary F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Ferrari’s head of Engine and Electrics, Luca Marmorini, has left the team ahead of the second half of the season.

  14. Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio highlights extensive motorsports coverage this weekend on NBCSN, NBC

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:59 AM EDT

    NBCSN

    NBCSN will present live coverage of the IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, highlighting more than 30 hours of motorsports coverage across NBC and NBCSN this weekend.

  15. Report: Toyota closing in on new 2015 Camry for Sprint Cup

    Jul 31, 2014, 9:52 AM EDT

    (AP Photo/Tom Strattman) AP

    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s the case for the new design of the Toyota Camry for the 2015 Sprint Cup season.

  16. IndyCar: Carpenter hopeful for second car in 2015

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:57 AM EDT

    Ed Carpenter AP

    Ed Carpenter says he’d like to expand to two cars, but it remains to be seen if this can actually come to fruition.

  17. Roush Fenway shores up sponsorship for Stenhouse as Zest returns to No. 17

    Jul 30, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

    Pocono 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Personal care brand will serve as primary backer for Stenhouse in multiple 2015 races plus work in a season-long associate role.

  18. NASCAR AMERICA: Wednesday Round-Up Includes Denny Hamlin Interview (VIDEO)

    Jul 30, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

    DHIMSPenalty AP

    NASCAR AMERICA on Wednesday includes a Denny Hamlin interview, a recap of the Hamlin penalties and Dale Earnhardt Jr. new crew chief news.

  19. Red Bull GRC: Nelson Piquet Jr. goes wakeboarding (VIDEO)

    Jul 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    PiquetWakeboard

    Nelson Piquet Jr. shows Kristen Kenney how to wakeboard, on the day after Piquet bagged a podium finish in Red Bull Global Rallycross at Charlotte.

  20. WATCH LIVE: Denny Hamlin reacts to Indy penalties on NASCAR AMERICA

    Jul 30, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    NASCAR America

    Coming up today: Full coverage of Brickyard penalties against Joe Gibbs Racing, including reaction from driver Denny Hamlin; interview with Eldora Truck Series winner Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

Ives, Earnhardt Jr. a good combo?

Featured video

Inside the Hungarian GP
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches