With two races, left in the season, Honda has lost the manufacturer’s championship to Chevy, leaving only the driver’s championship to fight for. And the odds of a Honda driver winning the driver’s title don’t look great, either.
Josef Newgarden (Penske-Chevy), won his fifth race of the season at Gateway, pulling to within four points of his teammate Will Power (Penske-Chevy). The Honda runners with the best chance of stealing the driver’s title are Scott Dixon (Ganassi-Honda) and Marcus Ericsson (Ganassi-Honda). It would take a minor miracle for Alex Palou (Ganassi-Honda) to defend his title.
Driver’s Title Standings:
Will Power (Penske-Chevy): 482
Josef Newgarden (Penske-Chevy): -3
Scott Dixon (Ganassi-Honda): -14
Marcus Ericsson (Ganassi-Honda): -17
Alex Palou (Ganassi-Honda): – 43
Realistically, for either Dixon or Ericsson to win the title, they would need to win one of the two remaining races (at Portland Sept. 4 and Laguna Seca Sept. 11) and finish on the podium at the other race. That and hope that neither Newgarden nor Power finishes on the podium in either race.
The good news is that if one of them wins both races, it is enough to lock up the title. And Ganassi has been good at both tracks recently.
For Palou to defend his title, he would need to win both races (he won Portland last season) and get a DNF in a least one of the races from Newgarden and Power.
Worst case scenario for Honda:
If either Will Power or Josef Newgarden win the race and the other is on the podium, that would practically eliminate all the Ganassi drivers.
Best Case scenario for Honda: either Ericsson or Dixon wins the race at Portland, and the other is on the podium. That would even the track for the finale at Laguna Seca.
Interesting notes to be aware of:
- Indycar has limited testing. Between the Gateway race and the Portland race, teams could test at Portland or Laguna Seca, but not both. Penske chose to test at Portland. Ganassi chose Laguna Seca.
- Portland has a much better chance of throwing the top runners a curveball than Laguna Seca. It’s possible that several cars will get damaged on the first lap going into turn 1-2 (also known as the Festival curves). This is because the front stretch of Portland is a drag strip, literally. So you are taking 26 cars in two rows of 13 traveling at more than 180 MPH and throwing them into a 90-degree right turn followed by a 45-degree left. Rarely does this happen without incident.
- While Laguna Seca has the Andretti Hairpin at the bottom of a long hill off the start, rarely does that cause as much chaos.
Grand Prix of Portland: Sept. 4th, 3 p.m. Eastern,
Grand Prix of Monterey: Sept. 11th, 3 p.m. Eastern, NBC