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> It Will Take To Win The Title That Has Eluded Both D
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TORONTO - Helio Castroneves purses his lips and smiles. Will Power looks away to contemplate what it will take to win the title that has eluded both drivers their entire careers. The two IndyCar veterans are duelling for the elusive championship this year, with Castroneves ahead of his Team Penske teammate by just nine points atop the standings. Its a familiar scenario for Castroneves ahead of the Honda Indy Toronto on Saturday and Sunday. He entered the Toronto races first overall in 2013 only to eventually cede the title to Scott Dixon. But this could be Castroneves year. The 39-year-old Brazilian yearns for a championship. "More than anything, my friend," said Castroneves. "More than anything." Castroneves lost by just 27 points to Dixon last year after being undone by a disastrous doubleheader in Houston where Dixon finished first and second, respectively. He also settled for second behind Sam Hornish Jr. in 2002, his first full season in the Indy Racing League after four seasons in Champ Car. Both series merged in 2008. Power has come even closer. The 33-year-old Australian finished second overall every year between 2010 and 2012. Power could taste the title in 2012, but he crashed at Fontana. His team scrambled to get him back on track, but Ryan Hunter-Reay edged Power out in a dramatic season finale. He doesnt want another year of being IndyCars bridesmaid. "Its going to be a tight race to the end. But man, Im doing everything I can," said Power. "Im determined to win the thing. Really determined." The Penske cars, always a formidable presence in the series, have been consistently dominant this season as the team looks to end an eight-year title drought. Power began the season on a tear. He won the season opener at St. Petersburg and again at one of the Detroit races. He was on the podium five times and never finished out of the top-10 in the first eight races. But penalties have hampered Powers season. Hes been charged five times so far, some more costly than others. At the Grand Prix of Indianapolis he hit pit equipment and was dropped out of contention. Later at Pocono on July 6 he was charged with blocking Castroneves. "The only one that cost me was the one at Pocono," said Power. "Double points, man that was like actually a 40-point swing right there, which is (a) pretty bad hit." Powers last four results have also been poor — 14th and 11th at Houston, 10th at Pocono and 14th in Iowa. He nearly won the second race at Houston but had to pit with a broken suspension just two laps from the finish. Power has two career wins at Toronto in 2007 and 2010. Castroneves, who took over the overall lead last Sunday at Iowa with an eighth-place finish, has just one win so far after splitting the Detroit doubleheader with Power. But Castroneves has been consistent. Hes been on pole twice, stepped onto the podium five times and has nine top-10 finishes in 12 races so far. Last year Castroneves, who has never won in Toronto, made a breakthrough with a second-place finish in the second race behind Dixon. "I feel this place owns me," said Castroneves. "We start on the pole, finish second, finish all over the place. ... This place always helps a lot in terms of strategy. Some people in the back sometimes take chances and they end up paying off, but it all depends. "We can only try to predict the unpredicted, which is hopefully start in the front, stay in the front if the race goes that way and then collect a lot of points." Points are becoming ever-more precious as the season winds down. Six races remain ahead of the Aug. 30 finale at Fontana, and at least 100 could be won by a driver who sweeps the 85-lap, 2.81-kilometre street course at Exhibition Place. Theres also plenty of time for another driver to steal the title from Castroneves and Power. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has three wins including one at Iowa, trails Castroneves by just 32 points. Simon Pagenaud and Penskes Juan Pablo Montoya are also within 100 points of first place. Power and Castroneves both say theyre trying to balance a focus on racing with an awareness of the standings. "Youre just thinking every session," said Power. "Youre thinking about getting the car right and having good weekends. Not even that, every session youre thinking about, every lap. Doing it right, thats it." Castroneves added its hard to not get overwhelmed by the numbers. "Sounds not a lot when you say six races to go, but points involved its a lot and with that aspect, not that I dont look ahead, but youve got to push through to make sure that you finish ahead of those important (drivers). ...," said Castroneves. "Youve got to actually save for a rainy day in case that something bad happens, you have enough to cover for the last race." It might just take the last race for the championship to be decided. --- Follow @tyler_harper on Twitter Francis Coquelin Jersey .Y. - His opponent couldnt stop him, and LeBron James didnt quite know what to think when his coach tried. Granit Xhaka Jersey . -- Challenged for the first time under Major League Baseballs expanded replay system, umpires got it right. http://www.arsenalsoccerproshop.com/Authen...Arsenal-Jersey/ .com) - Maria Sharapova reached her 10th career grand slam final after beating Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets at the Australian Open on Thursday. Per Mertesacker Jersey .The Hamilton Tiger-Cat defensive back always has the required receipt. But he also walks around with a tangle of metal screws, rods and plates after breaking his neck in 2006 playing high school football in Louisiana. Danny Welbeck Jersey . - Titans quarterback Jake Locker will miss the rest of the season with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot, leaving Tennessee trying to rally with Ryan Fitzpatrick.PINEHURST, NC - As the years second major tees off on Thursday morning, here are a few things to consider: The Golf Course For the first time since the Second World War, there is no rough at the national championship. Instead, there is whats being called Native Areas. This is how Donald Ross created the course and this is how Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore restored it.Rather than being one-dimensional and having to hack it out of the rough, hitting it off the fairway now means a bit of a lottery. You might end up with a perfectly clean, if somewhat sandy lie or you could end up in a tangle of the wiregrass. If that happens, its like old times and youll be hacking out to the fairway. Depending on whom you talk to, its either a 50-50 or 60-40 or 80-20 situation that youll get a good result in the scrub.It will make for some interesting times. The Phil FactorWe all know that Phil has been runner-up at the U.S. Open six times and that the first of those came here, at Pinehurst back in 1999. We also know that he wants to win this tournament more than any other, to complete the Grand Slam. But we also know that Phil hasnt played very well this year and has struggled on the greens to the point that hes changed his grip coming into this week. Hell use the claw grip, which he says is better for the six to eight footers that will be key for this week. As much as Phil will tell you everything is great, that he loves the course, that his game is coming around, you have to think that the odds arent in his favour here. Oh CanadaGraham DeLaet will complete the Grand Slam here this week – not in terms of winning but just teeing it up in his fourth major. Sometimes we forget that hes still learning his chops in the majors and its a big step up to the majors. Yes, he is ultra-talented with a game that is suited well to this type of set up. In some ways, what he doesnt know may actually help him. In golf sense, DeLaet will always live and die by his putter and this week he is also going with a new putter grip, adopting a left-hand-low style that he says is working for him. History is not on his side this week – the last time a first-time entrant won the Open was way back in 1913. Of course sstreaks are made to be broken.dddddddddddd WeatherRight now, Pinehurst No. 2 is baked out and dry. There is lots of run in the course and the greens are firm. But the weather forecast is for rain over the next four days, (although so far, predictions of rain havent materialized). If that comes true, it will, as Rory McIlroy said, take the fire out of the course. It will aid the longer hitters and, if there are delays, make it tougher on those who have little patience. In short, it will change the number of golfers who can win this tournament and thats why a handful of players are doing the rain dance here this week. ImaginationIts a buzz word in golf. Along with creativity. But here at Pinehurst, there really is a need to think about just how youre going to hit a shot. With so many run-off areas around the greens, youre going to have to find the right way to get the ball close to the hole. So that means a) putting it up; cool.gif chipping it close; c) use a hybrid to bump it; or d) some other club to get it close.The guy who puts its beside the cup will be deemed the most imaginative golfer of the week (instead of the champion golfer of the year). GreensThe greens at Pinehurst No. 2 arent necessarily small in overall size, but the effective area that can be used is tiny. In fact, on some of them, less than 25 per cent of the overall space can be used for a pin. These are not unlike Augusta Nationals putting surfaces, where hitting the right area – not just the green -- is a requirement. Some are more generous than others while a few are absolutely diabolical. McIlroy said the second is just such a green. He estimated that less than 20 per cent of the field will hit that green in regulation. Who Will Win?The golfer who will win this week is one who can drive it long as the course has some length. And it will be the player who can loft it way up in the air, as youll need some height to hold the greens. And it will be the player who has some creativity (see above) for those missed green recovery shots, and it will be the golfer who has a hot putter. Put those all together and I think your winner will be . . . Sergio Garcia. 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