WITH 3 RACES TO GO, WHO WILL WIN THE 2019 INDYCAR CHAMPIONSHIP?
This is the last weekend before Formula One returns after its lengthy Summer break, but rest assured motorsport fans, there are still some awesome motorsport events this weekend. First off we have MotoGP at Silverstone, which would be worth watching, and of course we have the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, part of the 2019 IndyCar championship.
For those who haven't followed the season so far, it's been a cracker, and it hasn't even finished yet. Including this weekend, we still have three races to go, and there are four drivers in all contention for the title. This is also the last oval race of the year on the calendar, with Portland and Laguna Seca finishing the season off.
Since the start of the season in St. Petersburg, Florida, Josef Newgarden, the 2017 World Champion has led the championship at every race barring one, which was when Simon Pagenuad won the Indy500 to temporarily take the title lead.
The twenty-eight year old has been one of the most consistent drivers of the year, and has scored four wins this season. The Penske driver is the red hot favourite with a thirty-five point advantage over the nearest challenger, Alexander Rossi, but in IndyCar, and I hate to really say it, and unlike Formula One, anything can happen. Here are some stats why each and every one of the four drivers could win this years championship.
NEWGARDEN HAS A SIZEABLE POINTS ADVANTAGE
The former World Champion may be under pressure out in the lead, but with a thirty-five points advantage over title rival Alexander Rossi, Newgarden is still the clear favourite for the title, and with a fourty point advantage over team-mate and 2016 World Champion Simon Pagenaud and fifty-two points over the God of IndyCar Scott Dixon, it would be strange to bet against the man from Tennessee, especially considering he is on pole today at Gateway.
NEWGARDEN, DIXON & PAGENAUD HAVE GOT THE JOB DONE BEFORE
We must remember that three of the four contenders for the title have won a championship before.
Josef Newgarden won the 2017 title in quite some fashion, coming from behind in the final third of the season to overtake and defeat team-mate Simon Pagenaud in the title race.
Meanwhile Pagenaud himself, who is the reigning Indy500 winner, dominated the 2016 season to win by over 100 points and took five wins in the process.
However it is Scott Dixon, The Kiwi who drives for the legendary Chip Ganassi team, of which he has for the past seventeen seasons (!), has won the most titles out of this quartet, including the 2003, 2008, 2013, 2015 and the 2018 title, so yeah, he knows how the win.
DIXON HAS COME BACK FROM THE DEAD TO WIN THE TITLE
This header might be a bit strange, but let me explain. The 2015 season was not only the closest IndyCar championship since the creation of the sport, but most likely in motorsport, possibly ever. Yes, even closer than the 1984 F1 Championship where Lauda beat Prost by 0.5 points.
In a remarkable end to the season Scott Dixon had to win the pole, the race and lead the most laps to equal Juan Pablo Montoya points tally.
In the end, Dixon did all of the above, and although seven-time F1 grand prix winner Montoya finished a respectable P6 from where he qualified, the duo were TIED on 556 points after the end of the season.
After a small moment of confusion, it was declared that Dixon was to be the 2015 IndyCar champion as Dixon beat Montoya in a tiebraker, with Dixon taking four wins in 2015, with Montoya only claiming two.
What this shows is that Dixon is able to come from what seems an impossible feat, to surprise the world and take the win, or the title. It is what makes him arguably the great racer of all time in American open-wheel car racing, and it makes a 52 point deficit seem not that much at all.
PAGENAUD (& DIXON) IS THE KING OF OVALS
With just one oval race left, there are two drivers that really stand out from the rest when it comes to ovals, and those two are Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon.
To be honest I would place Pagenaud ahead of Dixon, with the Frenchman taking the 2019 Indy500 title of course, and despite dominating Poccono, could only finish third behind Will Power and Scott Dixon.
I place Dixon in this class as well due to the sheer experience from the thirty-nine year old New Zealander, and I expect at this weekend's Bommarito Automotive Group 500 the duo to feature heavily near the front of the race, along with Santino Ferrucci.
A LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN
The final two races of the year haven't featured promenently in the IndyCar series for quite some time.
The penultimate race of the year is in Portland, which, granted, was in last years season, expertly won by Takuma Sato that time around, but before that it wasn't on the calendar since 2007.
And the final race of the year is at Laguna Seca, one of the most iconic American circuits, yet it hasn't been on the calendar since 2004, with only one driver in contention for the title around then - Scott Dixon.
It's almost impossible to predict who will win the 2019 IndyCar championship. Newgarden is the clear favourite on this one, and has been relatively consistent this season, so whoever takes the title must be near the front for the final three races and ahead of Newgarden significantly. My head says that Newgarden will claim his second IndyCar championship, but my gut is saying Pagenaud or Dixon.
What do you think? Will it be Newgarden to claim his second Indycar title in the space of three years, or will his team-mate Pagenaud claim his own second title? Can Alexander Rossi, after finishing second last season to Scott Dixon finally claim his first IndyCar title, or will it be the Grandmaster to take his record-breaking sixth IndyCar title at the age of thirty-nine? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.