Oct 18, 2013, 12:08 PM EST
A majority of the pre-event media obligations are done and dusted, and so this Friday at Auto Club Speedway, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves can at long last begin the task at hand: wheeling their respective cars as they battle for the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship.
You know most of the important details. Dixon’s seeking his third championship per his “rule of fives” (2003, 2008), while Castroneves continues to push for his elusive first in his 16-year IndyCar career dating to 1998.
In 2013, Dixon has four wins and nine top-five finishes; Castroneves has only a solitary win but 15 top-10 finishes in the 18 races. Unfortunately for him, his run of consistency and finishing every lap thus far this season was thwarted two weeks ago in his sponsor’s (Shell and Pennzoil) race in Houston. And that means Dixon enters the MAVTV 500 in Fontana, Calif. (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra) with a 25-point lead on his title rival.
They actually both enter this race in a position of strength. Dixon is the epitome of a cool, calm and collected customer, who’s been here many times previously and never seems to crack. Even when he was tested in back-to-back weeks of Sonoma and Baltimore a handful of races ago, and was fined as a result of some ill-timed or ill-aimed comments, he never lost his head when it came time to get down to business on the track. A crushing win in Houston Race 1 and a nearly as successful second-place in Race 2 was all he needed to regain the momentum.
Castroneves – from appearances already thus far in Fontana – seems to relish the underdog role. He’s said repeatedly it’s a “nothing to lose” scenario because he can just purely go for the win and see where things fall as it relates to Dixon. The only thing that must happen for the popular Brazilian to have a chance is for the Kiwi to finish outside the top five.
“The way I look at it, we have nothing to lose this weekend,” Castroneves said heading into the weekend. “We have had a great, consistent year and we need to close it out with another strong finish and whatever happens will happen. I know we want to end the season with a win in the Auto Club car at Auto Club Speedway so let’s go try and make that happen.”
Dixon’s successes this year have come in a variety of ways. He’s maximized the points on the three doubleheader weekends, with a full 263 points achieved from the six races to 180 for the next closest driver.
Additionally, he’s made the most of two races where he was otherwise unexpected to post a big result. At the season opener in St. Petersburg, he rallied from 20th place to fifth at the finish. And Pocono, a race he considers his most pivotal victory of 2013, came as a bit of a shock given where the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team had been on pace prior to it.
“St. Pete for us was a big shock because we thought we came in good on the development area and testing had gone OK. But to qualify 20th, and it was a straight-up qualifying effort, it’s not like we got blocked or had a mechanical. We were 20th,” Dixon said Thursday.
“From Saturday to Sunday we reverted to all 2012 stuff on the car, so we had a good base. It was not an easy weekend but a very humbling one. It was the pure reality of not being where we needed to be. Those races are a credit to where we are now.”
And so here we are, standing on the precipice of yet another Ganassi versus Penske title battle, with two of IndyCar’s longest-serving drivers ready to duke it out for 500 miles. It should be fascinating to watch.
Dec 20, 2013, 7:39 PM EST
This week’s test session at Sebring International Raceway marked the first time working together for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s driver/engineer tandem of Josef Newgarden (pictured, from September’s Grand Prix of Baltimore) and Jeremy Milless. Milless, who recently was promoted to chief engineer on Newgarden’s No. 67 Honda, has been with SFHR since the 2012 season…
Dec 20, 2013, 6:23 PM EST
The much-maligned double points award for Formula One season finales may not be long for this world according to Formula One kingpin Bernie Ecclestone. The British billionaire has told the UK’s Telegraph newspaper that the controversial rule could be scrapped as soon as next month’s meeting of the F1 Strategy Group. But in doing so,…
Dec 20, 2013, 5:00 PM EST
Billy Scott will be the man atop the pit box for the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota and driver Brian Vickers in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Scott, an MWR member since 2008, has served as the lead engineer for the No. 55 car over the last two seasons. “I’m honored, but…
Dec 20, 2013, 3:31 PM EST
The FIA’s Land Speed Records Commission has homologated two of Colin Braun‘s record speed runs this past October at Daytona International Speedway as official world records. The world records are for 10 kilometers (203.010 mph) and 10 miles (210.017 mph), both from a standing start. Braun achieved the marks in a Ford Ecoboost-powered Daytona Prototype…
Dec 20, 2013, 3:00 PM EST
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards has testing at Daytona International Speedway this weekend. ARCA, while not affiliated directly with NASCAR, is a stock car racing series that generally kicks off Daytona Speedweeks in style with a barnburner of a 200-mile race. Of note, two female drivers have some races confirmed in the series…
Dec 20, 2013, 2:30 PM EST
Christmas is a special time everywhere but depending on the locale, the traditions of the season can be rather unique. Just ask Team Penske’s Will Power, who hails from Toowoomba, Australia – a place that has its own ways of celebrating the holiday. For example, instead of chestnuts, Power maintains that he and his loved…
Dec 20, 2013, 2:00 PM EST
Ferrari is offering its fans the chance to name its 2014 Formula One car, via a fan vote on the Internet, which could be perilous. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo announced the news at the company’s annual pre-Christmas dinner with Italian media at Fiorano. Recently, the Ferrari nomenclature has been a simple F-year, F2012 being…
Dec 20, 2013, 1:20 PM EST
Former Toyota and Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi could be making a trip back to Formula One in 2014. Since departing from Hinwil in 2012, Kobayashi has been driving a Ferrari for AF Corse in the FIA World Endurance Championship and didn’t do badly with four podium finishes this past season. But Autoweek contributor Adam Cooper…
Dec 20, 2013, 1:00 PM EST
Here’s a brief roundup of teams and drivers that have tested at least one day since the end of the IndyCar Series season at Fontana. Drivers in italics do not have a confirmed seat for 2014: Chip Ganassi Racing: Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Alex Tagliani Team Penske: Will Power, Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo…
Dec 20, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
We’ve written a lot in the week since Ryan Briscoe was picked to be Chip Ganassi Racing’s fourth driver about his return to the team, but not nearly as much about reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan actually taking over the No. 10 Target IndyCar from Dario Franchitti. Things are coming a bit full circle…
Dec 20, 2013, 11:30 AM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship season, my colleague Chris Estrada and I are taking a look back on how each of the 23 Formula One drivers who took to the grid fared this past year. Filling in at Lotus for…
Dec 20, 2013, 11:00 AM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship season, my colleague Chris Estrada and I are taking a look back on how each of the 23 Formula One drivers who took to the grid fared this past year. Making history in 2013 –…
Dec 20, 2013, 10:30 AM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship season, my colleague Chris Estrada and I are taking a look back on how each of the 23 Formula One drivers who took to the grid fared this past year. It was a relatively anonymous…
Dec 20, 2013, 10:00 AM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship season, my colleague Chris Estrada and I are taking a look back on how each of the 23 Formula One drivers who took to the grid fared this past year. Gaining confidence as his rookie…
Dec 20, 2013, 9:30 AM EST
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship season, my colleague Chris Estrada and I are taking a look back on how each of the 23 Formula One drivers who took to the grid fared this past year. We’re at the back of…
Dec 20, 2013, 9:00 AM EST
The DeltaWing Racing Cars team has made a splash for its Rolex 24 at Daytona 2014 lineup. Caterham Formula One reserve driver Alexander Rossi will join team regulars Andy Meyrick and Katherine Legge aboard the team’s No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13 Coupe for Daytona. The Jan. 25-26 race opens the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season.…
Dec 19, 2013, 7:00 PM EST
Here’s a quick update on drivers who have been officially announced for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The full entry list was announced earlier this month. Drivers are next to the team, car, and 2013 class for the car: P Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (Ford Ecoboost Riley, DP): 01-Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas (full…
Dec 19, 2013, 5:30 PM EST
The all-electric FIA Formula E Championship has received a $21 million investment from Boston Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck (pictured, left) and a dozen of his co-owners in the legendary NBA team according to the Associated Press. The AP reports that Formula E is the first investment for Grousbeck’s Causeway Media Partners, a recently-formed company…
Dec 19, 2013, 5:00 PM EST
Corvette Racing has announced its lineup for the GTLM class in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The team’s 2012 and 2013 full season pairings, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen (No. 3) and Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner (No. 4) will return, now armed with Corvette’s new C7.R to replace the departed C6.R (pictured right).…
Dec 19, 2013, 3:00 PM EST
While Dario Franchitti discussed the process leading up to his retirement and recalled some of his best racing memories, he also addressed the future during his media availability on Thursday. The Scot seems to desire a future team role with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, but when asked of the potential to go into broadcasting, Franchitti…
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