3 Races, 2 Veterans, 1 Championship

Scott HelioThree races. Two race weekends. That is all that remains in the battle for the 2013 IndyCar season championship. There are two veteran drivers fighting for it, both with elite teams, that are also the subject of most of the IndyCar topics since the race in Sonoma. One driver is trying to shake off two extremely frustrating weekends of racing, while the other is looking to complete his already impressive racing resume with his first ever title.

Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon are the staples of IndyCar. They are two of the most decorated drivers in the series, and always cool under pressure. Helio has 3 Borg-Warner trophies to his name, and “The Iceman” has one of his own, in addition to 2 championships. Between the two of them, they have 53 race wins, and 56 poles in open wheel racing.

The Penske/Ganassi battle is nothing new in IndyCar. They have a long history, and you can’t talk about one without mentioning the other. In 2010 and 2011, it was Dario Franchitti and Will Power that fought all season long. Both were phenomenal seasons, which crowned Franchitti the champion in the final race. Now, it’s their teammates that are doing battle, as both Dario and Will are having sub par 2013 seasons.

There are 3 other drivers with an outside chance at winning (Simon Pagenaud, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay), but it essentially comes down to these 2 guys that have more than 28 years of combined open wheel experience. For Castroneves, it’s about finally getting his elusive title. If Dixon can win his 3rd this season, it might be his most impressive yet, given the circumstances he has had to deal with over the past few weeks.

After reeling off three straight wins (Pocono, Toronto double-header), Scott looked like he was going to steamroll everyone on his way to the top of the standings. Instead, his progress was stopped by a brick wall pit crew member at Sonoma. The “Incident heard round the world” had Dixon and his team all red-faced and steam shooting out of their ears. Unfortunately for them, things would get even worse the next week.

After running up front all day in Baltimore, Dixon was preparing to make a move to get around Will Power on a restart. Power moved to the outside and both cars were sent into the wall. Will claimed that he didn’t look in his mirror to see the red Target machine, but Dixon wasn’t buying it. For the second consecutive week, Scott was furious with Power, and for the second consecutive week, his chance at the championship took a major blow.

With 34 days between the race at Baltimore and the first race in Houston, there is plenty of time for cuts to heal and tempers to settle. That’s not to say it is going to happen, this is a Penske and Ganassi battle after all. Still, to have a gap this large in the schedule is not something anyone wants to see, but it’s the hand we were dealt. The series is oozing with storylines, and the build up to the double-header event in Houston is going to be massive.

Castroneves currently has a 49 point advantage over Dixon. As with most street races, anything can happen, so having 2 of these races will likely provide a big swing in the standings (one way or another) heading into the season-finale in Fontana on October 19.

Either way you look at it, we should have a storybook ending to the 2013 season. If Castroneves can hold on, he’ll get his first championship in the same year that his best friend Tony Kanaan won his first Indianapolis 500. If it’s Dixon though, he and his team (along with half of the IndyCar fan base) will feel some sort of justification to what has been quite an eventful second half of the season.

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