There are two things people will be talking about at this season’s IndyCar finale at Fontana: the 2014 dominance of the Penske Chevrolet team drivers and Mikhail Aleshin’s horrific, airborne crash during Friday evening’s practice session.
Five drivers were still in contention going into the final two races of the closely-fought 2014 IndyCar drivers’ championship, and all of Penske’s drivers could be counted among them. Former series champion and 3 time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves was there, sitting in 2nd place in the overall points just behind his teammate, Will Power, who started the season strong with a win at the season opener in St. Petersburg and kept it going with a win at the famous Milwaukee Mile as well. Both drivers have been runners-up to the title 3 times, and neither is looking forward to making it 4.
To make sure it’s Power, and not him, who has to play the bridesmaid again, Castroneves needs to assert his dominance at Fontana and win, with Power finishing well back in the field. As of this morning, Castroneves sits on pole, and will start the race from P1 with Power starting well back in the field – and 2014 looks like Helio’s title to lose. “It ain’t over,” said Castroneves. “It’s just beginning. Our job is to be aggressive over the 500 miles and finish where we started.”
Adding complication to the bookmakers’ weekend, this year’s Indy 500 winner and last year’s series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay is also in mathematical contention for the title, as is Simon Pagenaud. Still, the Penske organization has its eye on the prize, and the third Penske driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, is starting alongside Castroneves in P2 for today’s race. Will he play blocker for Helio, or go for the win, himself? “I always tell our guys, if one driver wins the team wins,” says team owner Roger “the Captain” Penske, so we’ll see what we see.
Mikhail Aleshin Crash at Fontana
The second major talking point of the weekend was yesterday’s horrific crash involving Charlie Kimball, Marco Andretti, and 2014 IndyCar rookie Mikhail Aleshin (who had qualified 8th). The crash sent Aleshin’s Honda Dallara race car into the catch fence, and its momentum sent it spinning in a fiery mass of shredded composites and lightweight metals.
As of this morning, Aleshin was listed in “serious but stable condition” at Loma Linda University Medical Center, where the driver was “diagnosed with fractured ribs, a broken right clavicle, a concussion and chest injuries,” according to Dr. Terry Trammell, IndyCar’s official Medical Consultant. Charlie Kimball, who was also involved in the accident, was evaluated and released from the infield care and was cleared to drive in tonight’s race.
You can see the accident for yourself, here …
… and see how yesterday’s qualifying session played out for everyone else in the chart, below. The 2014 IndyCar season finale at Fontana will start tonight at 9PM, EST, and air live on NBCSports, with live streaming available through the Verizon IndyCar Insider app and at the official IndyCar website. Enjoy!
|Car No.||Driver||Engine||Grid Pos.||Avg. Speed (MPH)|
|2||Juan Pablo Montoya||Chevy||2||217.621|
|7||Mikhail Aleshin (R)||Honda||8||216.726|
|98||Jack Hawksworth (R)||Honda||17||214.173|
|34||Carlos Munoz (R)||Honda||19||213.991|
|18||Carlos Huertas (R)||Honda||22||202.319|