It looks to me like we are having an unusual year of two strong title contenders followed by a big drop off. The gap between first and second place in the championship is 28 points with two races remaining. Kanaan is 113 points away from the leader in third place.
To see if this is actually unusual or simply the norm, I went back to all seasons 2009 and on and checked how many points per race the top two contenders were averaging together with two races remaining. I adjusted to account for double points races by making them count for two races.
Here’s what I found:
Power and Pagenaud are averaging 68.7 points per race together this year, the most by any championship-leading duo since 2011. These two drivers are running away with the championship and are the strongest in the field by a wide margin. You have to go back to the 2011 season led by Franchitti and Power to find a stronger pair of leaders. The two years preceding 2011 were also particularly strong, perhaps a sign of IndyCar increasingly becoming more competitive in recent years?
So what exactly does this mean for the championship? For one it means that whoever wins the championship out of Power and Pagenaud will be a worthy recipient. Both of these drivers blitzed the field this year with four wins a piece as of writing. The last time multiple drivers won four or more races in a season was (you may have guessed) 2011.
Power will need to try and improve on his personal PPR (currently at 33.4) and get another race win — preferably at the double points Sonoma finale — or bank on a poor race from Pagenaud if he wants to snatch the title from his teammate.