Scott Dixon had his points lead over main IndyCar Series rival Josef Newgarden take a serious blow at the most recent round at Mid-Ohio. But the Kiwi is still sitting pretty to clinch his sixth career crown and he has the statistics to support him.
The Kiwi holds a 72-point lead in the driver’s standings over Newgarden with three races remaining. Granted a driver can score pole at each of the remaining races, lead the most laps and claim victory, there is still only 162 points on offer for the field.
Dixon’s lead is the third-largest points advantage heading into the final three races in IndyCar/IRL history. Second on that list is Dixon again when he held a 78-point buffer over Helio Castroneves in his Indy 500-winning 2008 season.
Overcoming a points deficit in the final leg of races is rare in the series with only eight drivers having done so since the turn of the century. The largest margin was 49-points when Dixon managed to claw himself ahead of Castroneves in 2013.
This year has also seen the departure of the double-points season finale.
Introduced in 2015, the contentious rule had split opinions across its five-year stint with it being the deciding factor in Dixon’s 2015 title triumph where he was able to equal himself in the standings with Juan Pablo Montoya. The Kiwi was then awarded the championship on countback of his four wins to Montoya’s two.
From the three remaining races in 2020, Dixon has finished on the podium on nine separate occasions. He heads into the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the most recent winner at the venue and has finished in the top-two every race held there since 2017.
At the other end of the scale, Newgarden has only one top-ten finish at IMS with a best result of seventh.
However, despite the sizable points margin, Newgarden says that instead of focusing on hunting down Dixon he will approach the rest of the year with the aim of maximising the potential from the car.
“I don’t think we’re looking at Scott necessarily,” Newgarden said. “We’re just trying to run the best race possible every race, and we expect to show up with winning cars and winning pace, and so we go in with the attitude that we can win the races.
“We just can’t have any mistake. Look, it’s a big mountain for us to climb right now, and we’ve certainly used up all our bad luck for the year, so we don’t have much to give away, but we’re just going to keep our heads down.
“So, if that’s the case, we’re going to finish as high as possible, and Scott is going to be where he’s going to be. You’ve just got to hope that you’re bringing a bit more to the table than him and nothing is really derailing that for you.”
IndyCar will be back in action for back-to-back races from Indianapolis over October 2-3 before the finale on the streets of St. Petersburg on October 25.