It’s a four person race for the Astor Cup and the $1 million that goes with the IZOD Indycar Championship.
With seven races left on the Indycar schedule Scott Dixon is close enough to Helio Castroneves that it’s not Helio’s championship to lose, but only three drivers are within 100 points of the leader. Just Scott Dixon, 29 back, Ryan Hunter-Reay, 69 back and Marco Andretti70 points in the rear have a realistic shot at surmounting Castroneves’ point lead. The most likely scenario is that the margin between Castroneves and Dixon will narrow as the season unfolds. If Dixon’s hot streak continues he’ll catch Castroneves but I doubt either driver will be able to distance themselves by the season finale at Auto Club Speedway.
Helio’s strength this season has been consistency. His worst finish has been a thirteenth at Brazil, other than that he’s finished no worst than 10th. Castroneves is a pro, and while he’s not been unstoppable he’s finished well, and that’s what wins championships. While his lead over Dixon could evaporate in a race or two you expect Castroneves to not surrender a whole lot of points in one weekend.
After reeling off three consecutive wins Dixon seems to be the hot hand coming down the stretch. Dixon had stretch of four races from Long Beach to the Indy 500 where the best he finished was 11th, and he looked out of the title contention. Dixon has come on of late with a pair of fourth-place finishes at the Chevy Duel in Detroit. In sports it’s all about peaking at the right time, and it appears that Dixon has hit on something that could propel him down the stretch.
He made up a lot of ground in last year’s chase and has been the victim of a lot of bad luck lately. Takuma Sato’s brain fade at Pocono cost RHR a top-ten finish and his crash with Will Power in the second Toronto race cost him a handful of points too. He’s 69 points back. Obviously he still has a chance, but his window is going to close pretty quickly. If he doesn’t make something happen at Mid-Ohio or Sonoma he’ll be running for third.
In contention for the first time in years a lot of fans, including this one, are happy to see him near the top of the point standings. Unfortunately I believe his championship drive ended at Pocono. Not only did he give up a lot of points at the tricky triangle, by finishing tenth he lost a ton of momentum.