Although the push for the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship is front-and-center in everyone’s eyes right now, it’s not the only prize out there for the series’ finest. As the IICS is made up of a mixture road courses and oval tracks, there are two additional championships that recognize the best in these respective disciplines. The Mario Andretti Road Championship Trophy goes to the driver with the most points on road courses, whereas the A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy is given to the driver who amasses the most points on the ovals. Here’s a quick look at how each sub-championship is playing out:
The Battle For The Mario Andretti Championship Trophy
The award for the “twisty ace” sees the overall leader, Dario Franchitti, narrowly maintaining an advantage over Will Power. Dario’s got 239 points to Power’s 235, but with races in Mid-Ohio, Infineon, Baltimore, and now Japan still to come, this is as close to a dead heat as you’ll find.
In P3 for the road championship sits Ryan Briscoe; however, he’s nearly 100 points (147) behind the two front runners. He isn’t mathematically eliminated just yet, but right now it looks like a two-horse race at the top.
However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of drama in this fight. Tony Kanaan is in P4, only 6 points behind Briscoe, and Oriol Servia is a single point behind him. Mike Conway might be only P15 in the overall championship standings, but he’s a mere two points behind Servia in a points battle featuring some of the best road course drivers in the series. Of course, you can’t forget Scott Dixon, only two points behind Conway.
Prediction: Although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Franchitti edge Power, Will should nudge him out, perhaps with the bonus points from those pole positions he’s so good at earning. It will be a dogfight for the third spot, but Briscoe has looked better as of late. It’s got to be a tossup between Kanaan and Briscoe for the bronze; the driver with the fewest hiccups the rest of the way should grab it.
The Battle For The A.J. Foyt Championship Trophy
As befits the overall championship points leader, Franchitti also finds himself in the overall lead for the oval championship. However, on his heels isn’t Will Power (P3 in oval points), but teammate Scott Dixon. Dixon has 146 to Franchitti’s 149. If you’re wondering how he’s so close to Dario despite having not won a race yet this season, Scott’s P5 at Indy over Dario’s P12 has helped keep him in the game. If he can remain consistent and Dario slips, it’s possible Scott Dixon could be your oval champ without having won a single race this year.
Power has 115 points, but don’t count out Marco Andretti (P4 with 114 points), who is still in contention. Rounding out the Top 5 is Tony Kanaan, who with 112 points still has a big chance to make things interesting.
With the Motegi race switched over to the road course side of the column, only three ovals remain: New Hampshire, Kentucky, and the season finale at Las Vegas. Depending on what takes place between now and then, more than one championship could be decided in Vegas.
Prediction: Dario stays out of trouble, which is good on ovals that aren’t inclined to forgive much. That should serve him well in clinching his second Foyt Trophy. Power will look to avoid last year’s fade on the oval tracks, and will do everything he can not to lose ground to Dario at any of those stops on the schedule. Keep in mind, though, if Marco Andretti continues his oval excellence, he could provide some unwelcome “dark horse” company for the current leaders heading into an anything-could-happen finale.
Zachary Houghton runs www.indycaradvocate.com, which features regularly-updated INDYCAR, IZOD IndyCar Series, and Mazda Road to Indy interviews, commentary, and more. You can find him on Twitter at @indycaradvocate.