The drivers currently trailing IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power and second-place Scott Dixon in the championship may have just received a gift today.
Both Power and Dixon blew up their engines during Tuesday’s major test session at Iowa Speedway, which hosts its annual 250-lapper on June 23 (the next race after this Saturday’s Milwaukee IndyFest). Power’s Chevrolet and Dixon’s Honda had not reached the mandatory mileage they needed to hit before their teams could switch them out for fresh engines and thus, both competitors will be assessed a 10-spot penalty on the starting grid for Milwaukee per INDYCAR rules.
Milwaukee’s tough but not impossible to pass on, so should Power and Dixon do well in Friday qualifying, the penalties’ effect may be nullified somewhat — and even more so if they cut through the field in Saturday’s 225-lap main event (1 pm ET, ABC). But should Power and/or Dixon falter somewhere along the way in Milwaukee, some of their rivals will be in prime position to insert themselves into the championship picture.
Here’s your current top five in the standings:
1. Will Power, 256 points
2. Scott Dixon, 220 points, (-36)
3. James Hinchcliffe, 208 points (-48)
4. Helio Castroneves, 203 points (-53)
5. Simon Pagenaud, 199 points (-57)
Now, let’s get rid of Power for the moment and focus on the deficits behind Dixon, who crashed out of last weekend’s race at Texas despite leading 133 laps:
2. Dixon, 220 points
3. Hinchcliffe, 208 points (-12)
4. Castroneves, 203 points (-17)
5. Pagenaud, 199 points (-21)
6. Dario Franchitti, 192 points (-28)
7. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 181 points (-39)
8. Ryan Briscoe, 174 points (-46)
If you’re any of those guys behind Dixon (and especially if you’re Hinchcliffe, Castroneves, Pagenaud or Franchitti, the defending champ at Milwaukee), you take this penalty on him into account and really start to see Saturday as a chance to show yourselves as legitimate title contenders.
After Milwaukee, it’s eight races down and eight to go. It’s time to start making a move.