Dixon can put exclamation point on series title this weekend at Sonoma
The main story line at Sunday's IndyCar Series race at Infineon Raceway is no secret. Scott Dixon can wrap up his second championship with two races still to go, writes John Oreovicz.
Updated: August 22, 2008, 12:58 PM ETBy John Oreovicz | Special to ESPN.com
SONOMA, Calif. -- The main point of interest in this weekend's PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County (Sunday, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) is whether Scott Dixon clinches his second IndyCar Series championship.The 2003 IndyCar titleholder arrives at Infineon Raceway with a 78-point championship lead over Helio Castroneves. If Dixon departs California's Wine County with 82 points in hand, he could literally skip the last two races of the season (at Detroit on Aug. 31 and Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 7) and still collect the IndyCar championship trophy and the $1 million bonus that accompanies it.Based on the way the 2008 season has played out, Dixon clinching the title at Sonoma is a strong likelihood. The Target/Ganassi Racing ace has won an IndyCar Series record-tying six races this year, while Castroneves has yet to reach Victory Circle.The IndyCar Series is optimistically trying to promote the fact that four drivers remain in championship contention, but Dan Wheldon (138 points back) and Tony Kanaan (-147) would pretty much have to win out to have a chance. The four title contenders' cars will be equipped this weekend with unique Firestone tires featuring white sidewalls to differentiate them from the rest of the field. "It would be nice to gain a couple of points, but in all reality, I think we'll be racing almost until the last race," Dixon remarked.Castroneves' task this weekend was made even tougher when Team Penske's primary transporter caught fire en route to California, destroying two race cars and key pit and car setup equipment. The incident, believed to be sparked by a wheel bearing on the trailer, occurred on Interstate 80 in Wyoming early Wednesday morning. "We're certainly not going to have everything that we're used to," said Penske Performance president Tim Cindric. "All the uniforms for the team were in that truck, so we're bringing all the uniforms we do have. Pit equipment is all kind of secondhand or nonexistent. But we'll make the most of it."Castroneves observed that the last time Penske faced unusually adverse circumstances, he won the next race. That was at Kansas Speedway in 2006 in the aftermath of flooding at Penske's former IndyCar race shop in Reading, Pa."I hope we can turn it around pretty quickly," said Castroneves. "We seem to always perform in these circumstances, but I know my guys are going to be extremely tired."
I need Scott [Dixon] to fall back a bit. There's still a good chance to catch him, but as much as winning, I need something to happen to him.
-- Helio Castroneves
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