(Originally posted by Paul to Planet-IRL.com.)
Scott Dixon enters the season finale with a five-point lead over Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti and an eight-point lead over Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe. His job is simple — win the race.
Scott truly holds his own destiny going into Homestead. To win the championship, Scott realistically just needs to finish ahead of Dario and Ryan. If Dario should falter during the race and Briscoe take the win, Scott would still win the championship by finishing second and leading the most laps due to owning the tie-breaker with Ryan Briscoe, that being the most wins this season (Scott has five, Briscoe three).
Why Dixon wins the championship:
Scott wins the championship because he has been consistently fast all season long. Okay, he’s been consistently fast for the past three seasons. At the end of the day, Scott always seems to find his way to the front of the field when it matters the most. Also, Scott will be blessed with the first pit position at Homestead — a location that his team never fails to take advantage of during the crucial moments of any race. Time and time again, we have seen the #9 pit crew come up with the fastest pit stops when the race is on the line, and there is no reason to suspect the team will deliver anything less than another exceptional performance this weekend.
Scott has been through the championship grinder numerous times and is the most experienced of the three title contenders going into the weekend. He prevailed in 2003 when five drivers went into the final weekend with a chance to win. He did everything right in 2007 but came up about one cup of fuel short of the victory in the season finale at Chicagoland, and the championship slipped to Dario Franchitti, then driving the #27 Canadian Club car for Andretti Green Racing. Last year at Chicagoland, Scott did what he needed to fend off Helio Castroneves’ late-season charge and maintained a comfortable cushion after entering the finale with a 30-point lead.
Scott’s experience will certainly play a large role in maintaining his ever-calm demeanor that has solidified his reputation as “The Iceman.” The best thing that Scott has going for him this weekend? He is a two-time winner at Homestead and will enter the race as the defending champion. That alone, however, won’t get him any points towards this year’s championship.
Why Scott loses the championship:
As strong as Scott has been this year, winning five races on various layouts, the Target Chip Ganassi teams have struggled a bit on the high-banked, 1.5-mile ovals since Indianapolis. Sure, Scott once again made a laugher out of Kansas, but since then it’s been a tough road for the TCGR guys. The pair were never a factor at Texas and were only marginally more competitive at Kentucky, particularly in the second half of the race. Even though Scott finished second at Chicago by less than a Tony Kanaan-sized nose and led a respectable 61 laps of the event, when it came down to go-time, Scott admitted that the Target cars just didn’t have the speed that the Penske guys had. That same refrain was heard at Kentucky earlier in the year and Texas before that. Unless the Target guys have found something in the five weeks since Chicagoland, Scott might be seeing more of the Team Penske advertising on the rear wings of Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves than he would care for.