FONTANA, Calif. – For three successive years, Scott Dixon battled Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti to the wire for the Verizon IndyCar Series driver’s title.
So the reigning series champion has an understanding of the dynamic between Team Penske’s Will Power and Helio Castroneves, who are 1-2 in the standings heading into the 500-mile race that will make one of them -- or Simon Pagenaud -- the series champion for the first time.
“Both are great competitors. It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out and for them it will be a massive relief,” Dixon said of the MAVTV 500 on Aug. 30 at Auto Club Speedway.
Teammates for the first time in 2009, Dixon was seeking to repeat as series champion and finished 11 points off Franchitti’s pace through the 17 races. In 2010, Franchitti won for the second consecutive year – five points clear of Power and 55 points ahead of Dixon. In ’11, Franchitti completed the trifecta – 18 points ahead of Power and 55 more than Dixon.
“You want to win, but be good teammate, too, as the season winds down,” Dixon said. “Dario and I are great friends and always have been great friends, but there is a side to you that you want to be the one who wins.
“It’s tough; you have the same equipment. Your teammate can see exactly what you’re up to. Strategy-wise, they have a handle of what you’ll be doing in the race with live telemetry. You’re racing against everyone else and your teammate, but there is nothing better than team competition to raise your game. It’s just (disappointing) if you come up short.”
In addition to 2013, when Dixon finished 27 points ahead of Castroneves, he won the 2008 and 2003 titles. Castroneves also was runner-up in ’08 and third (16 points back) in 2003.
Power’s lead is 51 points over Castroneves and 81 points over Pagenaud, the third-year Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports driver, entering the 250-lap race. Dixon said whoever lifts the Astor Cup on Aug. 31 at the INDYCAR Championship Celebration at Club Nokia in Los Angeles is a worthy champion.
“It’s just a great feeling. Winning the Indianapolis 500 is a great feeling and winning a championship is a great feeling, especially in this series with so many different disciplines in a car that you can’t really modify that much from team to team.”
Twitter: @ACSupdates, @IndyCar, #MAVTV500
Click it: Entry list || Get tickets