Dixon vs Castroneves in title-deciding IndyCar finale

IndyCar

Scott Dixon, Ganassi, IndyCar, Houston, 2013The IndyCar championship is going down to the wire yet again.

Last year Ryan Hunter-Reay prevailed in a nail-biting finale at Fontana after title rival Will Power crashed out.

This time two different combatants are going up against each other: Power?s Penske team mate Helio Castroneves and Ganassi?s 2003 and 2008 champion Scott Dixon.

Both teams have tweaked their driver line-up ahead of the final race, though one of them has done so out of necessity. Dario Franchitti was injured in a shocking crash on the final lap of the last race in Houston, leaving Alex Tagliani to take over alongside Dixon.

At Penske AJ Allmendinger returns again to swell their ranks to three cars.

Castroneves will need the support. He led the championship for 12 consecutive races until Houston, where a string of misfortunes in the double-header weekend handed the initiative, and the points lead, to Dixon.

Castroneves needs to win with several cars between him and Dixon to halt Penske?s frustrating series of championship defeats in recent years.

Helio Castroneves, Penske, IndyCar, Houston, 2013Last year Power was on the cusp of passing Hunter-Reay when he spun into the wall. Despite remarkable work by his mechanics to get the car back on track so he could pick up an extra few points, he was unable to keep his Andretti Autosport rival from the title.

It was a reminder of Power?s similar defeat two years earlier, when a brush with the wall ended his hopes of beating Franchitti. In the intervening year Franchitti kept Power from the title again on that black day in Las Vegas when the race was abandoned following Dan Wheldon?s fatal crash.

Pride is also at stake between engine manufacturers. Chevrolet held sway at the beginning of the season but Honda hit back at Pocono, the second of three 500-mile races, where Dixon began a string of three consecutive victories. There?s a twist in the tale too: long-time Honda users Ganassi are set to switch camps after Sunday?s race.

Sustaining average speeds of 345kph (216mph) for 500 miles at Fontana inevitably asks huge questions of engine performance, economy and above all reliability. For that reason Castroneves has already elected to change his Chevrolet V6 for a fresh unit and accept the automatic ten-place grid penalty.

In what has been an extraordinarily competitive season the championship contenders will have no expectation of having the battle for victory to themselves. This has the makings of being just as much a tense, white-knuckle thrill ride as last year?s race was.

IndyCar championship points so far

Here?s how the top ten drivers have scored so far this year:

How the title can be won

Dixon holds the whip hand with 546 points to Castroneves’ 521. Assuming he at least places within the top 33 (highly likely given IndyCar’s current grid sizes) that leaves his rival needing at least fifth place to claim the title.

The availability of a bonus point for pole position and fastest lap, and two further points for whoever leads the most laps may help Castroneves cut the gap, but Dixon has just as much chance of claiming these for himself.

In any situation, a finish of fifth or higher for Dixon will guarantee him the title regardless of what Castroneves does.

F1 Fanatic Live

We?ve followed every round of the IndyCar championship on F1 Fanatic Live this year and we won?t be missing this one!

Join us at 3am on Sunday morning to keep abreast of all the action from Fontana.

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18 comments on Dixon vs Castroneves in title-deciding IndyCar finale

  1. Looking forward to wake up at 5.30am for my sole day off of the week. That’s gonna be great! I’m for Dixon but I want a battle on track and wish both go to the end of the race.

    It has been a great IndyCar season this year. I love the racing the guys produced, sometimes even more than F1 to say the least.

  2. ramy (@ramysennaf1) said on 18th October 2013, 10:33

    we should have an american street circuit grand prix once again, like Detroit :p

    • 2014 schedule

      Only 15 venues and the season will be too short (5 full month only!), there is something to be done!

      IndyCar is an attractive series with great races and wheel-to wheel racing on differents type of tracks but the problem is that NASCAR prevails in the US and F1 in Europe. I enjoy the atmosphere of IndyCar, they’ve pull on a great show with few gimmicks over the year.

      I think 2014 will be a sad year for motorsports with the F1 economic races and that IndyCar schedule.

      • BJ (@beejis60) said on 18th October 2013, 15:21

        I wish they could race at COTA and I’m sad to not see Laguna Seca on the schedule. But I love they’re still at Mid Ohio; I’ve raced there a few times and it’s a fun venue.

        • Sean Doyle (@spdoyle17) said on 18th October 2013, 17:01

          COTA would be ok, but seeing them at Laguna Seca, Road America, Burke Lakefront Airport, Watkins Glen, Portland, and Interlagos (instead of that silly street track,) first would be better. A return to Surfers’ Paradise would be welcome, but outside of that race, Long Beach, and Toronto, IndyCar really ought to stay away from the street circuits.

      • MatK77 (@bluestar77) said on 18th October 2013, 18:48

        Robin Miller was on a pre-race show last night, claiming that although the 2014 schedule may disappoint some, there are changes coming for 2015. He claims that Laguna and Elkhart Lake are back in the running, with Phoenix an outside chance.

        If they’re going to call time before the NFL season starts in September, I hope they pull the beginning of the season forward at least six weeks – there’s nothing wrong with the weather in Florida, Alabama, Arizona, southern California, Mexico or Brazil in February.

        Nice to see Milwaukee later in the year though – the traditionalists might wince but the weather is always a lottery in Wisconsin in June, and it puts a lot of casual fans off.

        • Alexandre Costa said on 20th October 2013, 1:28

          “there’s nothing wrong with the weather in Florida, Alabama, Arizona, southern California, Mexico or Brazil in February”

          Actually there’s something wrong about racing in Brazil at the São Paulo’s sambodromo in February: it’s reserved for Carnival that month…

  3. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 18th October 2013, 10:34

    Looking forward to this. It’s funny how similar Penske are to McLaren, they should have won the last three or four championships but lost them all due to silly errors.

    It’ll be odd for Dixon to have won three titles all five years apart.

    This is Indy Car though and anything can happen!

  4. sato113 (@sato113) said on 18th October 2013, 17:01

    interesting read. shame I had to read half the article until i was told where the race will be taking place!
    anyway, will tune in

  5. Can’t wait, the only thing to decide now is whether to watch it live at 1:30 am or the repeat at 5:30!

  6. Jarred Walmsley (@jarred-walmsley) said on 18th October 2013, 20:42

    Interesting to note that both Dixon and Castroneves have opted to fit a new engine meaning both will suffer a 10 place grid drop. So the two champions will be starting from no higher than 10th and 11th places, assuming no other grid penalties are applied.

  7. mrgrieves (@mrgrieves) said on 18th October 2013, 22:18

    Does the Race start at 530am?

  8. Wesley (@wesley) said on 18th October 2013, 22:40

    Some good racing in the states this weekend.I’m looking forward to it.Attending ALMS Petit LeMans tomorrow at Road Atlanta.Nick Heidfeld and Nico Prost will be driving the ‘Rebellion Racing’ car..It set the fastest lap this weekend in practice.

  9. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 18th October 2013, 22:57

    The first 33? How many cars are on the grid? (I think the number depends on the circuit size right?)

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