Will Power is clinging to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points lead with three races remaining, and Scott Dixon is charging toward a record-tying seventh series championship. Josef Newgarden remains a threat to score his third season title, and Alex Palou hasn’t wavered in his bid to repeat as the series champion.
And those are the former champions still fighting for the Astor Challenge Cup in one of the most competitive seasons in series history.
Mix in three drivers chasing their first claim to the Astor Challenge Cup -- Marcus Ericsson, the winner of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge; second-year star Scott McLaughlin and ever-capable Pato O’Ward -- and the final push to the title could prove to be a slugfest.
But the driver to watch might be the one most familiar to these pursuits.
Since July 1, a span of six races, Dixon has scored the most points in the series, climbing from sixth in the standings to second place. He is within six points of Power heading to this weekend’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois.
Dixon always seems to have another gear when it comes to this time of the year. Thirty-one of his 53 career wins have come after the calendar flips to July. The point, he is relentless to the finish.
“I’ve been in many (championship) situations, and I think probably the biggest one that was like was with (Juan Pablo) Montoya (in 2015),” Dixon said. “I think (the series awarded) double points (in that year’s final race), but we were 60 points out of the lead, or something – maybe more.
“That’s the point. You are never out of it until you are. (You) keep digging.”
Here is what Dixon and the other title contenders must dig through the rest of the way:
While the battle is tightest among the top three – Power, Dixon and Ericsson are separated by just 12 points – Newgarden is only 22 points out of the lead with Palou just 33 points in arrears.
Next to Dixon, McLaughlin has been the summer’s hottest driver, posting four top-four finishes in the past six races, including the July 3 win at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Dixon has won two of the past six races, in Toronto and Nashville, and he is a former race winner at World Wide Technology Raceway.
After this weekend, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES concludes its season with a pair of road course races on the West Coast: the Portland Grand Prix at Portland International Raceway on Sept. 4 and the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 11.
1. Will Power, 450 points
2. Scott Dixon, 444 points
3. Marcus Ericsson, 438 points
4. Josef Newgarden, 428 points
5. Alex Palou, 417 points
6. Scott McLaughlin, 392 points
7. Pato O’Ward, 391 points
How Title Contenders Have Fared Over the Past Six Races:
1. Scott Dixon, 220 points, 4.0 average finish
2. Scott McLaughlin, 193 points, 6.8 average finish
3. Will Power, 184 points, 6.2 average finish
4. Alex Palou, 171 points, 6.7 average finish
5. Josef Newgarden, 167 points, 8.8 average finish
6. Marcus Ericsson, 145 points, 8.3 average finish
7. Pato O’Ward, 143 points, 12.3 average finish
· Gateway: Josef Newgarden has won three of the six races (2017, 2020, 2021) since the series returned to the track in 2017. Will Power grabbed the 2018 win, Scott Dixon got one in 2020.
· Portland: Power won the 2019 race, Palou went to victory lane from the pole in 2021.
· Laguna Seca: None of the championship contenders have won a series race at the Monterey track. In the 2019 race won by Colton Herta, Power was second with Dixon third. In 2021, Palou finished second to Herta.
Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)
Friday: NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, 1-2 p.m.; Indy Lights practice, 3:10-4 p.m.; NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying, 4:15-5:15 p.m.; Indy Lights qualifying, 6:15-6:45 p.m.; NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, 6-6:30 p.m. and 6:45-7:45 p.m.
Saturday: Indy Lights race, 4:15 p.m.; NTT INDYCAR SERIES' Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline, 6 p.m. (USA Network and the INDYCAR Radio Network).