Scott Dixon reviews data

Five races remained in the 2008 IZOD IndyCar Series season when Scott Dixon left Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a third-place finish and 58-point advantage over Helio Castroneves in the championship standings.

Dixon went on to win the next two events in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car to build a 78-point margin over Castroneves, who produced runner-up finishes in the races at Edmonton and Kentucky Speedway to remain in contention.

A victory by Castroneves at Sonoma Raceway on Aug. 24, ending a 30-race winless streak, and second place the next week at Belle Isle – paired with 12th- and fifth-place finishes by Dixon – sliced the margin to 30 points approaching the finale at Chicagoland Speedway.

It would have taken a momentous fall by Dixon, who had won six times and recorded 13 top-10 finishes overall through the 16 races, to be supplanted. His outlook was bolstered when the sanctioning body hit Castroneves with a post-qualifying penalty, which sent him to the rear of the 28-car field on the 1.5-mile oval.

Though Castroneves charged to the front, leading 10 times for a total of 80 laps, and beat Dixon to the checkered flag by .0033 of a second (the second-closest finish in series history), Dixon earned his second series title by 17 points.

Leaving Mid-Ohio this year with a seventh-place finish, Dixon trails Castroneves by 31 points in the championship. There are five races left, starting with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 25 – plenty of opportunities to overtake the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner.

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“The swing can happen,” Dixon said. “We were 92 points out (entering the July 7 race at Pocono), and now we're only 31. It really shows the never-give-up attitude of the team."

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who earned his first series title last year in the final race by a scant three points, is 65 points behind Castroneves. Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti is fourth (76 points back). There are 20 drivers mathematically eligible for the championship entering the 85-lap race on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn Sonoma road course.

Dixon, who won at the track in 2007 and was runner-up in 2011, has won three of the past four races as Chip Ganassi Racing is on a four-race winning streak (Charlie Kimball earned his first series victory at Mid-Ohio). He’s scored the most points of any driver on road/street courses, which comprise four of the final five events.

"We had a bit of an upset at Mid-Ohio, where it didn't go our way, but we've got to bounce back and dig deep and try to get some good results for the last five,” Dixon said.

The top five


Total points

Road/street … best

Oval … best

Helio Castroneves


267 … 2 St. Pete

186 … 1 Texas

Scott Dixon


296 … 1 Toronto 1&2

126 … 1 Pocono

Ryan Hunter-Reay


202 … 1 Barber

186 … 1 Milwaukee

Marco Andretti


237 … 3 St. Pete

140 … 4 Indianapolis

Simon Pagenaud


230 … 1 Detroit

120 … 6 Iowa, Pocono