It’s down to the wire and the title is on the line. With the contenders whittled down to the final two, Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon, who will be the one to win it all? Here, the More Front Wing crew makes our predictions for who will be crowned the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series champion.
PAUL’S PICK: Scott Dixon
As much as I want to see Helio Castroneves finally get his first championship trophy, I just see the deficit as insurmountable for him this weekend. I’m going with Scott Dixon. The two-time series champion has been rock solid since Indianapolis, and I don’t see him slipping up just because the pressure is on this weekend. Only needing to finish fifth or better to secure the championship regardless of how well Helio fares this weekend, look for Dixon to drive a very Rick Mears-ish type race, racing smartly for the first 400 miles, bettering his equipment, and putting himself into a position to move up the leaderboard when it really matters. Scott probably won’t fight tooth and nail for the victory on Saturday, especially if his Honda engine is still down a bit on horsepower as it was at Pocono. But unless Scott encounters some bad luck that he hasn’t seen since early in the season, I expect him to leave Fontana with custody of the Astor Cup and the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship.
STEPH’S PICK: Scott Dixon
Let’s break this down the easy way. We’ve got two contenders here. Both have been in a down-to-the-wire race for the title several times. Scott Dixon has come out the victor twice; Helio has done it zero times.
In the last five years, Target Chip Ganassi Racing has claimed the title four times. Penske Racing has done it zero times.
Of any driver in the field, Dixon is the one you’d want to have going into the finale with 25 points in his hand. The Iceman is perhaps better suited than anyone to keep a cool head and do exactly what’s needed to get the job done without succumbing to pressure or temptation.
And even superstition is working in Dixon’s favor: he won the title in 2003 and 2008, so for him to win it again in 2013 would seem to be too sweet a serendipity for fate to pass up.
So sorry to say it as Castroneves would be a deserving champion many times over, but there’s not much to discuss here. Barring catastrophe, Dixon should have no trouble whatsoever winning the day.
JOHN’S PICK: Scott Dixon
Helio Castroneves has controlled the points chase this season up until his disastrous Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, but I don’t see him pulling a rabbit out of the hat at Fontana to rebound to the lead. Even if he wins the race, Dixon can clinch the title with a 7th place finish. If Castroneves comes home second Dixie only needs a 15th place finish to clinch.
Last year’s title clincher had drama going in because of Will Power’s suspect history on ovals and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s huge wave of momentum. Dixon has no such issues on ovals, and Castroneves has lost all of his momentum with a terrible double down in H-Town. I’m afraid this will be a good race but a somewhat boring championship finale, at least by recent IndyCar standards.
CHAD’S PICK: Scott Dixon
I’m going to make the easy call here and proclaim Dixon the 2013 champion. As good as I think Castroneves will be in Fontana, I don’t believe he can score 26 more points than Dixon, who has momentum on his side. Starting positions won’t really matter, especially when you consider the amount of engine changes we will see. Both drivers have a good track record here, and that will only benefit Dixon.
Do I think Castroneves has a decent shot at the title? Absolutely; anything can happen in a 500-mile race. Still, Penske would have to rely on Dixon making a mistake in crunch time, and I just don’t think that is going to happen. That’s why they call him The Iceman. Ganassi’s team will look much different next season — with Kanaan, Chevrolet power, and Dixon in the #1 car.
BASH’S PICK: Scott Dixon
I picked Scott preseason on a gut feeling — I just felt like he was going to have a strong season. The wheel of fortune was due to come back his way, and although he’s been coming from behind in the title chase all season long, his consistent runs and mid-season win-fest have him right where he needs to be going into the finale. It’s going to be a thriller with the teams and drivers once again bringing the title chase drama down to the last race!
Who’s your pick for 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series champion? Let us know in the comments section below!