Championship battle heats up, IndyCar standings tighten after Mid-Ohio

The completion of round 12 of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series saw the gap between the top four drivers in the championship dwindle from 61 to 28.  Scott Dixon proved his Mid-Ohio magic once again, winning for the fourth time in six visits to the Lexington road course.  With his victory, the Target Chip Ganassi driver drastically cut into the lead of his fellow championship competitors Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Helio Castroneves.  The New Zealander still remains fourth in points, but only two points out of third place, Helio Castroneves.

[media-credit name=”Usatoday.com” align=”alignright” width=”204″][/media-credit]”We gained 30-odd points just on first place today.  For us, that’s big momentum. Big momentum. We are going into three tracks that we can for sure do well at…Fingers crossed that we can be in the hunt and stay in the hunt until the last race,”  Dixon explains to indycar.com.

Dixon’s win at the Honda Indy 200 on August 5th marked the 29th of his career and brought him into a tie for 10th on the all time IndyCar wins list with Rick Mears.

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Will Power led the most laps in Sunday’s event but lost the lead to Dixon on his second pit stop, ultimately finishing second.  Despite not winning the race, the Australian finds himself the current championship leader, holding a five point lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay.

“It’s a very good points day. We’re happy to get the Verizon car on the podium.  We’ll keep chasing after it.  We’ll get a win here soon and keep going after that championship,” says the Penske Racing driver.

Hunter-Reay came into the weekend with a 23 point lead over Power in the championship.  Running a solid race most of the day, looking to save fuel and still catch the leaders, Hunter-Reay anticipated a decent finish.  However, the engine in his Andretti Autosport entry began to lose power, eventually failing him with a few laps to go, leading to a 24th place finish.

The driver of the #28 DHL/Sundrop Chevrolet still looks forward with a positive outlook, stating to indycar.com that his team is still very much in the hunt for the title.

“There’s a lot of racing still to go, and the only thing we can do is dig deep and move on.  I think it’s going to be a good championship fight, but you can’t have any more days like this.  I’m confident we’re going to be right in it until the finish.  It’s certainly doable for us to win it all.”

The #3 Penske Racing entry of Helio Castroneves finished 16th at Mid-Ohio on Sunday, after attaining a 10-spot grid penalty and starting 23rd for an unapproved engine change.  Castroneves currently has 353 points and is third place in the IZOD IndyCar standings, 26 points out of first place.

The IndyCar’s will be back on track on August 26th for the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.  Will Power has won the last two events at the California road course and will look to add one more victory to that talley.  Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves have also posted wins in wine country and will be keen on furthering their championship hopes at the end of August.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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