For the first time in over a decade the IndyCar championship isn’t a truly compelling competition. Making matters worse, it’s down to two unlikable, prickly Penske pilots jockeying for the crown. Considering the situation, sadly there’s very little to root for next Sunday. After all, the only race for the next six months is at Sonoma.
There’s no more ignoring it. The points leader and heavy favorite is – gasp – a Frenchman. Will the 2016 champion be the irascible King Pags, or (possibly) worse, the off-kilter, ill-tempered Aussie bushwhacker? Does anyone outside Team Penske really still care about the championship at this point?
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Despite speculation to the contrary, Power will be racing next Sunday as he didn’t suffer a concussion at the forgettable Glen after all. There’s at least a contest going in – it could have been Pagenaud’s trophy already. In reality though, there’s very little excitement being generated this year. Enjoying a forty three point lead heading into the finale, Simon would have to commit a major gaffe to let Will steal the crown. All hail King Pags!
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Watkins Glen saw to it that there wouldn’t be much of a battle, in addition to raising further questions about Power’s health. Power’s tangle with Kimball and the wall landed him in twentieth place, paving the way for Pags’ sizable and rather undramatic lead.
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The Frenchman’s never won a championship in six seasons of IndyCar racing (including a season in Champ Car), although he did win the Atlantics title in 2006. When he joined the Cap’n’s team two years ago however, it didn’t take a soothsayer to see one coming. Pags owns eight career wins at the major league level, four this season.
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In over a decade in IndyCar and Champ Car, Power’s claimed only one title in 2014. That year’s finale saw six drivers contending for the championship, including Pagenaud. Power owns an impressive twenty five career wins – four of which have come in 2016 – and has threatened to win the championship repeatedly. Recall that he missed the season opener in St. Pete altogether, suffering concussion like symptoms following a practice crash. But with Power, how can one tell?
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It’s too bad the 2016 points battle isn’t more engaging, as IndyCar traditionally has spoiled fans with tight fights right to the conclusion. It’s too bad there are only two contenders this season, both from the same super team. And it’s really too bad the contenders aren’t more relatable.