It will take a Herculean effort to deny IndyCar stalwart Scott Dixon a sixth career crown with the series veteran holding a seemingly insurmountable points lead as the American series begins to enter the final half of its truncated 2020 season.
After the first six races of the year, Dixon holds a colossal 49-point lead on second-place Simon Pagenaud with only eight scheduled races run – including the double-points opportunity at this year’s Indy 500.
Four points behind the 2016 IndyCar champion lies Penske teammate and incumbent series victor Josef Newgarden with a sizable 29-point lead back to the challenging pack.
Only Dario Franchitti in 2010 and Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2012 have accomplished to overturn such sizable point deficits since the inauguration of the IndyCar Series, both of which entered the season-finale behind the leading title protagonist on points only to come out trumps in a final duel.
An electric start to his 18th IndyCar campaign saw Dixon clinch a hat-trick of victories, a feat only matched four times in USAC/CART/IRL history – of which three went on to score series titles.
Perhaps on Dixon’s side rests a recent regulation change ditching the unpopular double-points finale rule which was implemented first back in 2015 and has too often swayed the championship away from the deserving victor.
For 2020, IndyCar has elected to do away with a double-points finale and will instead only award an increased volume of championship points at its blue ribband event – The Indy 500.
Nonetheless, aside from Pagenaud and Newgarden, each of Dixon’s rivals will need to average at least 38-points at each non-Indy 500 race to make up the deficit by the time the chequered flag falls on October 25 in St. Petersburg.
Under the current IndyCar points structure, 50 points are on offer to the winner with 40 to second and 35 for third. Ignoring additional points on offer for pole position, leading at least one lap and leading the most laps, any driver outside the current top-three will have to average a podium finish across all remaining races.
Overcoming Dixon is far from all castles in Spain for Pagenaud and Newgarden either. The Kiwi has so far averaged a top-three finish across all six races and comes into the next round in Mid-Ohio as the reigning race winner.
Dixon has clinched an unprecedented six victories at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car circuit and has only failed to make the top-10 once since the series first raced at the venue in 2007.
Even greater news comes as IndyCar is set to confirm the cancellation of this year’s Grand Prix of Portland amid an unrestrained breakout of COVID-19 cases, with an additional race at Mid-Ohio earmarked as the likely alternative.
Should he continue to grapple the 2020 crown with his vice-like grip coming out of next month’s Mid-Ohio doubleheader, Dixon will only require consistent points finishes in each of the six races.
The Chip Ganassi racer is also riding the benefits from a raft of team personnel changes within the American-based outfit ahead of the new season.
A recent shakeup revolved around more Dixon-driven engineering guided under the authority of former Dale Coyne Racing engineer Michael Cannon has helped the Kiwi get off to such a scintillating start to 2020.
“Changes like for this year keeps it fresh and is quite good because it brings up a totally different kind of conversation,” Dixon said earlier in the year.
“It’s very easy to just get stuck in the repetitiveness.
“I’ve been pushing for it for the last couple of years; just getting some fresh ideas, and not blaming anything or putting blame on anybody, but just wanting to try some change.”
The change has unquestionably paid dividends as Chip Ganassi Racing continue their unparalleled pursuit of perfection to remain atop of the IndyCar performance ladder, a goal compounded by the team claiming two-thirds of all race wins in 2020.
Thus, while not a done deal, considering Dixon’s fine run of form in recent past and a fresh-look team galvanized by a raft of positive changes, a sixth career IndyCar crown is just a stone throw away from being inked onto an already impressive CV.
Confirmation of a Mid-Ohio doubleheader is expected to be announced this week with the event still slated for August 7-9.