The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season has come down to the final race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and the battle has come down to two drivers: Australian driver Will Power of Team Penske and American-born Ryan Hunter-Reay out of Andretti Autosport. Power holds a 17-point lead on Hunter-Reay going into the season finale on the 2-mile oval, but Hunter-Reay holds an advantage on Power: it's an oval track. Here's how the championship contenders stack up.
Road Courses - Power's three wins have all come on road and street courses this season - in fact, 15 of Power's 16 career wins have come on road and street courses. Not surprisingly, Power has won the Mario Andretti Road Trophy all three seasons it has been presented (2010 through 2012). Hunter-Reay, who has four wins on the season, had two wins on road and street courses, including the most recent race in Baltimore. Hunter-Reay sits 79 points behind Power for the Andretti Trophy going into the finale.
Oval Tracks - here is where Hunter-Reay's advantage comes into play. He has two wins this season on ovals and sits tied with Tony Kanaan (who is winless this season) for the A.J. Foyt Oval Trophy. How much of a problem are ovals for Power? He has just one career win on an oval, and sits 17th in points for the Foyt Trophy.
Past Championship Rankings - Power has been runner-up the past two seasons in IndyCar, while Hunter-Reay has finished seventh both seasons.
Experience - after spending time in Formula Racing in Australia and England, Power moved to the Champ Car World Series for two full-time seasons (2006 and 2007), earning the 2006 Rookie of the Year award; he has been an IndyCar Series regular since 2008. Hunter-Reay competed in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Series on both the regional and national level in 1998 and 1999, then moved to the Barber Dodge Pro Series and the Toyota Atlantic Series. He spent three seasons in Champ Car (2003 to 2005), then made starts in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series in 2006 and 2007, while also working as a test driver for Robby Gordon Motorsports in NASCAR. Hunter-Reay came to IndyCar mid-way through the 2007 season, but made enough of an impact to win Rookie of the Year in just six races.
My Choice - does Will Power finish second for a third-straight year? Not likely - but it will be a tight finish between the two contenders.
Paula is a long-time auto racing fan who also covers the sport at Skirts & Scuffs and Examiner.com.
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