Helio Castroneves takes early championship lead after Alabama

USA TODAY Sports

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - After two competitive races in the IZOD IndyCar Series, Helio Castroneves leads the championship standings by nine points over Scott Dixon and by 13 over Grand Prix of Alabama race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.

It's still early in the season but Castroneves is pleased at his team's performance and was genuinely surprised when he was told that he had taken the points lead on Sunday following the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

You have to take as it comes," Castroneves said. "You have to enjoy the moment, but work for it. Those points are very valuable if you thinking about the long-term. Last year the championship was lost by, what -- three points? So you got to take as it comes...

"Today we ran really, really good. We tried different strategy and we show the speed of the car. We got to keep putting ourselves in those opportunities and the win is going to come. With that, I'm going to add more points. But I'm extremely excited."

Two notable drivers actually find themselves in a little bit of a hole coming out of Alabama and one of them is actually the driver that entered the race as the championship leader. James Hinchcliffe falls from first to fifth but is now 23 markers behind Castroneves as a result of finishing at the back of the field on Sunday.

The other concerned driver has to be Dario Franchitti who is now dead last in the standings after back-to-back misfortunes to start the season. He's off to such a bad start that even AJ Allmendinger, in one less start, has one more point than the four-time Series champion.

It's definitely early but it's always a bonus to start strong and not worry about having to rebound like several drivers will after just two races. The complete point standings after Barber can be found below.

  1. Helio Castroneves Ldr.
  2. Ryan Hunter-Reay -9
  3. Scott Dixon -13
  4. Marco Andretti -18
  5. James Hinchcliffe -23
  6. Charlie Kimball -28
  7. Tony Kanaan -30
  8. Will Power -32
  9. Justin Wilson -33
  10. EJ Viso -35
  11. Simona de Silvestro -39
  12. Takuma Sato -39
  13. Alex Tagliani -40
  14. Simon Pagenaud -45
  15. Sebastien Bourdais -46
  16. Josef Newgarden -50
  17. Tristan Vautier -50
  18. Oriol Servia -50
  19. Graham Rahal -53
  20. Ed Carpenter -55
  21. JR Hildebrand -55
  22. James Jakes -57
  23. Sebastian Saavedra -59
  24. Ana Beatriz -65
  25. AJ Allmendinger -68
  26. Dario Franchitti -69

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