Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Last Cars In: TEAM Standings Updated

The TEAM Battle continues to be one of the top 22 full-time IZOD IndyCar Series entries. Once again, as a reminder, TEAM money is INDYCAR’s program to reward full-time participation in the IZOD IndyCar Series. For 2012, the Top 22 full-time entries in points from 2011 will get their share of TEAM money, worth at least $1.2 million per eligible entry.

Last month for INDYCAR Nation, I did an article on the last few TEAM positions. So where are we with a single race remaining? Here's what the tail end of the standings look like after Kentucky. Remember, TEAM points are calculated by entry, not individual driver

20) #59 Car, KV Racing (Viso), 241 points.

21) #78 Car, HVM Racing (de Silvestro), 240 points.

22) #24 Car, Dreyer and Reinbold (Beatriz/Pagenaud), 236 points.

23) #83 Car, Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing (Kimball), 233 points.

24) #34 Car, Conquest Racing (Saavedra/Battistini), 208 points.

25) #18 Car, Dale Coyne Racing (Jakes,), 189 points.

On the surface, it would appear EJ Viso (#59) and Simona de Silvestro (#78) should be safe. However, to clinch, they can't just score P33 and hope that no one else has a good race. You want to guarantee a stay in the Top 22? Score some points beyond the minimum.

Honestly, looking at this list, perhaps the driver in the most danger of not finishing in the Top 22 is Ana Beatriz. Charlie Kimball managed a decent finish at Kentucky, and you have to think will have more potential in his car in Las Vegas. Both rookies have had disappointing first years, and finishing outside the TEAM spots would be insult to injury (or possibly the other way around).

Kimball needs to finish strong.
(Courtesy IndyCar Media)
What, then, of James Jakes (#18) and Sebastian Saavedra (#34)? The lowest points total anyone starting Las Vegas will receive is 10 points. If James Jakes grabbed pole position, led the most laps, and won (53 points), he still would fall short of Charlie Kimball's total, assuming Charlie in the #83 only garnered 10 points (243 to 242). Jakes has shown plenty of improvement this year, but the finishes haven't been there to propel him upward through the standings.

Saavedra is still mathematically alive for the P22 spot, but would need to see Bia (#24) score only 10 points, while he finished P1 or P2 in the race. Needless to say, that's going to be a tall order for the Colombian rookie. (At least it sounds like he'll get the chance to make his own destiny, since he's confirmed he'll be returning to the #34 car for Las Vegas after missing Kentucky).

So really, for this battle, Viso, de Silvestro, Beatriz, and Kimball will be the drivers to watch. The most likely outcome is that one of those four drivers is on the outside looking in when the checkered flag waves at Las Vegas. With only 8 points separating these drivers, big money for their teams and entries for 2012 is at stake. We'll see who rises to the challenge, and who gets left behind.

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