The 2017 IndyCar Champion Is…
Going to be decided on Sunday. I know, “click bait”. But I couldn’t pass up a good title. Now, who’s going to win the Astor Cup this weekend is obviously unknown. But there are a few things we can take a look at and do our best to guess. Let’s look at the top three drivers and their seasons thus far.
Josef Newgarden: Currently leading the points with a weak three point advantage. He’s recorded zero poles this year. Which isn’t a good indication for getting to start up front, come Sunday. JoNew has been ridiculously consistent this year. He’s finished in the Top 5 nine times. The Top 10, twelve times. He’s led 349 laps and finished 15 of the 16 races on offer. Fast is an understatement when it comes to the year 2017. Aside from his one misstep in Watkins Glen it’s been a dream season for the first year Penske driver. His four wins this year coming at Alabama, Ohio, Toronto, and Gateway.
Scott Dixon: Hanging on by the tips of his fingers, Dixie is behind by just three points. Dixon is no stranger to pressure. The name “Ice Man” isn’t just for 90’s fighter jet movies. Scotty isn’t scared of a fight. His driving style doesn’t change. He never gets flustered. He just gets the job done. His previous four championships prove it. This season he’s recorded one win, nine top 5’s, fifteen top 10’s, led 131 laps, and has finished 15 of the 16 events. The win came at the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America.
Helio Castroneves: The charismatic vet has been driving IndyCars since Moses parted the Red Sea. During all that time, he’s never won a championship. 50 poles, 30 wins, and 3 Indy 500’s but 0 Cups. This year Helio has dominated many races leading, 442 total laps but only recording one win. That was at Iowa back in July. His first in 4 years. Helio has recorded three poles this year and in a double points race, starting position is key.
Technically Simon Pagenaud is eligible too. I know it’d be stupid to count out the reigning champ. But the Frenchmen would need a perfect weekend, including all three drivers just listed, to finish lower than 14th. That happening is highly unlikely and in the name of saving time, we’ll skip the details. Just know, Simon could win it, technically.
All things considered I’d like to believe that Dixon is going to come through again. Newgarden is in uncharted territory. He’s driving for the most successful team in the paddock and it’s first year in such position. The wreck at Watkins Glen felt like a man trying to push his limits. He was behind, he knew it and had to try to make something happen as quickly as possible. Locking up the brakes leaving pitlane is a prime example of rushing things. Sonoma is a tough track with a lot of blind corners. It’s not the place to overstep bounds, despite its numerous run off areas. Castroneves deserves a Championship more than anyone suiting up on Sunday. When you spend as much time as he has in an IndyCar, set as many records and warmed the hearts of housewives all across America, give this man a ring. But he’s up against a tall order.
My prediction is Scott Dixon brings home the ‘ship in 2017. He’s done it four times before. He’s dominated Sonoma in his career. Dixon has recorded three wins, four top 3 finishes, six top 5’s, seven top 10’s and that’s in 12 starts. I feel like Scott’s consistancy and nerves of steel will pay off. As much as I’d love to see Helio capture his first or Josef bring one home for the millennials, my choice for the 2017 IndyCar Champion is: Scott Dixon.
Who do you think will win this Sunday? Who would like to see win it? Let me know in the comments below. Also follow Destination Driven on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.