Bean Machine: Chicago

1. White knuckle ride

Wheel-to-wheel action. Two and three-wide racing through the field. Drivers enjoying the excitement (Dan Wheldon, Marco Andretti). Drivers not enjoying the excitement (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves). In short, typical Chicagoland. PLUS 20.

2. Championship shift

With Dario Franchitti’s win and Will Power’s late-race fuel woes, the championship is now up in the air with three races to go. Considering Franchitti’s experience in tight points battles, you have to give a bit of an edge to him. But you still gotta love Power’s guarantee of winning on Saturday night at Kentucky (find the IMS Radio podcast from last Saturday); clearly, his confidence remains firmly intact. PLUS 15.

3. (Not) my kind of (ghost) town

Potentially the last IZOD IndyCar Series event at Chicagoland played out to an attendance of 20,000 tops. And from what I’ve heard, the embarrassing turnout can be blamed on the track for not pushing the race hard enough. Whether that was intentional or not, I don’t know for sure. But I do know that the hardcore faithful just got another reason to hate ISC (Chicagoland’s parent). As if they needed it. MINUS 25.

4. Where have you guys been?

Dan Wheldon and Marco Andretti have not made much of an impact in 2010, but both threw everything they had at Franchitti in the final 25 laps. Wheldon’s runner-up effort was his first podium since Indy and Andretti’s third-place finish was his first podium since Texas. Can they continue the momentum throughout these last three oval events? PLUS 5.

5. Vision fades

Ed Carpenter and Vision Racing returned to the track on Saturday and Carpenter quickly charged from his 11th place starting position to the lead pack. A top-five run looked promising but the American fell victim to refueling problems on a stop. Upon returning to pit road, Carpenter stalled the No. 20 machine and was then tagged with a drive-thru penalty for speeding. Hey, at least Kentucky’s coming up. MINUS 3.

6. We’ve got issues

League CEO Randy Bernard and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner Dennis Reinbold attempted to stop rumors flying about some IndyCar owners rejecting the 2012 machine. But while Bernard and Reinbold tried to project a united front, there appears to be plenty of evidence that trouble is brewing between the League and the team owners. MINUS 20.

This week’s tally: -8 beans.

Season tally (after 14 races): 15 beans.