Nothing much has happened with the Indycar series since the Indy 500, unless you count two of the most tedious races in this century (at Gateway’s Motegi-like oval) as something. I imagine a lot of views who watched both would like to forget about them. Scott Dixon won Saturday, Josef Newgarden won the other. Pato O’Ward should have won them both, but fell pray to inexperience at the hands of the two masters.
While we are discussing Gateway, Indycar really needs to figure how to hold an entertaining race on short ovals, or the only oval on the schedule will soon be the Indy 500. No car could run within half a second of the car immediately in front in either race. Passing on track required taking your life into your own hands. The was one pass in each race that was spectacular, but any pass for position had to be. It was a circular parade both days.
The schedule for the rest of the season
At this writing, there are five races left. The series will end up with 14 races total if all of these come off, three less than last season:
Mid-Ohio Race 1 — 4:30 Eastern Time.
Sept. 13: Mid-Ohio Race 2 — 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Oct. 2: Indycar Harvest GP Race 1 on the Indy Road Course — 3:50 p.m. Eastern Time.
Oct. 3: Indycar Harvest GP Race 1 on the Indy Road Course — 3:50 p.m. Eastern Time.
Oct. 25: St. Peteresburg Grand Prix — 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
Ganassi-Honda’s Scott Dixon has a near insurmountable 94-point lead over defending champ Josef Newgarden (Penske-Chevy). How big is the lead?
Remembering that the last race of the season (currently St. Petersburg) is not double points as it has been in the past, here are some of the scenarios:
- If Dixon finishes no more than three places behind Newgarden in every race, Dixon wins the title.
- If Dixon finishes 6th or better in every race, Newgarden has to win every race.
There are lots of other scenarios, but you get the idea. In more practical terms, Newgarden has to finish four places better than Dixon in every race, while winning two or three of them. And what Newgarden really needs is for Dixon to have a DNF or two.
Is it likely that Newgarden will be able to run down Dixon? No. For the following reasons:
- The next two races are at Mid-Ohio, Dixon’s personal playground. He has won 6 races in 13 tries. Newgarden has won there once.
- Only three people have ever won on the road course at Indianapolis. Dixon (this season) is one of them. The other two are Will Power and Simon Pagenaud, Newgarden’s teammates. Either one of them winning again is bad news for Newgarden.
Newgarden has a better record at St. Pete than Dixon. It is one of the few places Scott Dixon has never won. Although he has finished second there four times.
The challenge will be to do enough in the next four races to cut into Dixon’s lead in half. Otherwise the final race won’t matter, statistically. Dixon winning one race of two would be in keeping with his record at Mid-Ohio, and would likely sew up the title for all practical purposes.
The manufacturer race
Honda has a 73-point lead in the manufacturer battle, which is substantial. But all Chevy needs is three races like Gateway Race 2 to catch up. In that race, Chevy finished 1-4. That closed up the gap by 37 points. Two more races like that and we are tied.
For Honda to win, it needs to get two Honda-powered cars into the top four in each race, with one of them finishing 1st or 2nd. IF Chevy wins all five remaining races, they would likely win the title.
Is that likely to happen? Given that Honda has won 7 of the 9 races so far, the answer is “no.” Adding in that Chevy has not won a road course event, and things look better.
At this point, Honda’s chances are pretty good. Honda has won every road course race this season, and there are no more ovals (where Chevy won two races). Odds are Honda will win at least two of the remaining five to put this away.
Both Mid-Ohio and the Indy Road Course play to Honda’s mileage advantage. And Chip Ganassi Racing has dominated road courses, winning all three of this season’s Road Course races.
Honda has not won the Indycar triple crown (Indy 500, Driver’s Championship, Manufacturer’s Championship) since 2005. Dixon winning one of the Mid-Ohio races and Honda winning two would be a good way to slam the door on the last two legs of this year’s triple crown.