Will Power came into the Baltimore Grand Prix with a 36 point lead and could have easily clinched the championship with a win, but the race did not go his way and his championship rival Ryan Hunter-Reay pulled through and won and cut the lead down to 17, which has put him in striking distance heading into the season finale at Auto Club Speedway. This is a bit of a role reversal for Power, as he is the points leader heading into the final round where the last two years he was second heading into the final round, so he has a little comfort, but it is not much. Will's job is simple, he needs to stay in front of Hunter-Reay at all costs in order to be safe and protect his position. Hunter-Reay has a similar task ahead of him, stay in front of Power at all costs in order to win the title.
So what about each driver's chances? In the last three seasons in Indycar, Will Power has been the man to beat. He has won more races than anybody, with a total of 14 since 2010. The road courses have been his strength, with 13 of those wins coming on that type of track, with only one win on an oval at Texas in 2011. Ovals have been Power's Achilles Heel, mostly due to bad luck rather than driving ability. At Texas earlier this year, Power blocked Tony Kannan while racing for the lead and was penalized for it after leading a number of laps. At Indianapolis, he was running well until he was caught up in a wreck. At Kentucky last year, Power won his first oval pole and easily had the best car until a contact with another car after his first pit stop took him out of contention as well as ruining his championship hopes.
Hunter-Reay has a realistic shot even though he is 17 points back. Statistically, he has performed good on both the road/street courses as well as the ovals. He does have more wins on ovals than Power, with 3 to Powers 1, but those wins were on short ovals, not a superspeedway, but that is not to say that Hunter-Reay is not good on the superspeedways. He has ran well on them too and he has finished better than Power in most cases also.
As racing goes, it is never over until the checkard flag flies and the drivers have made it around to finish. It will come down to 500 miles in the California twilight to decide the Indycar championship, which for the seventh straight year is being decided in the final race of the season.
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