(Originally posted by Paul to Planet-IRL.com.)
Ryan Briscoe enters the weekend in third place in the championship standings, a mere eight points behind leader Scott Dixon. For all intents and purposes, Ryan, like Dixon and Dario Franchitti, can lock up the championship with a win this weekend. The only thing that could stand in Ryan’s way is if Scott Dixon were to finish second and get the two bonus points for leading the most laps. Ryan has had a spectacular second half of the season and, in my opinion, should be considered the favorite to leave Miami with the title in hand.
Why Ryan wins the championship:
When races and championships are on the line, there is never a good time to bet against a driver wearing the orange and white of Team Penske. Now is no different. Ryan has been blazing fast on the 1.5-mile ovals this year (again, Motegi withstanding) and has won the two closest races this year. Not only did he dominate most of the Texas race (at one point pulling out to an unheard-of 13-second lead), Ryan prevailed at Kentucky and Chicago when the race was on the line. Ryan has shown time and again that he is not afraid to run in the second and third grooves when necessary. It certainly won’t hurt Ryan when Helio is behind him, either. If there is anyone that can get away with defending a line, Helio’s the one to do it, so if Ryan can bring Helio to the front with him, the Target boys may have a long night trying to get a clear shot at Ryan.
Why Ryan does not win the championship:
Dumb mistakes! Ryan has been known to make stupid mistakes from time to time. Though he has certainly been better this year, he still has a very fresh wound on his conscience after running into the pit wall at Motegi three weeks ago when the race and championship were basically in-hand.
Additionally, Ryan typically likes to run up front throughout the entire race and is going to do everything in his power to ensure that Scott Dixon does NOT lead the most laps during the race. Doing so could throw a monkey wrench into Ryan’s fuel strategy and cause things to get quite interesting in the final 10-15 laps.
Finally, Ryan is by far the least experienced of the three title contenders. In only two previous starts, Ryan has yet to finish the race, exiting the race in accidents both years. If Ryan can make it to the finish and avoid stupid mistakes, it’s a pretty safe bet that the #6 will find victory lane and walk away as the 2009 IndyCar Series champion.