A Champion Will Be Crowned

A+Champion+Will+Be+Crowned

This Sunday the NTT IndyCar Series head to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey for the season finale. Four drivers still have a shot at the Astor Cup. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi, Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon are the four drivers that can take home the title.

My pick to win the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship is Alexander Rossi. Even though Rossi hasn’t won as many races as championship leader Josef Newgarden, he is more consistent on track. He avoids a lot of the wrecks and usually runs at the front. For Rossi to have the best chance to win the championship, he needs to win the race and needs Newgarden to finish from 11th place on back. Rossi pretty much needs Newgarden to have a bad weekend for him to raise the Astor Cup for the first time.

104 points are up for grabs this Sunday and the top four drivers in the championship are only separated by 85 points. Newgarden is leading the championship charge with 593 points. Then Rossi is close behind him with only 552 points, only 41 points behind Newgarden. Then Pagenaud is right behind Rossi with 551 points, only 42 points behind Newgarden. Finally, Dixon has the smallest chance at winning the title 508 points. He is 85 points behind Newgarden and needs the race to go perfect is he wants to have any shot at the title.

Two weeks ago at the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway, the championship contenders had an up and down race. Championship leader Josef Newgarden started the race down in 13th and he made an amazing comeback to finish fifth and to slightly extend his championship lead. Alexander Rossi started the day in seventh and had a solid day and finished third. Rossi was running in the top 5 all day long. Even with Newgarden finishing lower than Rossi, Newgarden still grew his championship lead. Simon Pagenaud had a rough start to the day when he started in 18th, but he came through the field to get a solid seventh place. Even though he lost second in the standings to Rossi, Pagenaud is still in title contention. Scott Dixon had a solid start to the weekend with qualifying third, but his championship hopes went downhill when he ended the day in 16th place. Dixon lost the most out of the title contenders, but he is still in the hunt for his sixth IndyCar title.

In the article “What does each IndyCar title contender need to do to win?” by Marshall Pruett, it said even amid that worst-case state, Dixon could finish second, earn all four bonus points, have Newgarden fail to take the start, and it still wouldn’t be enough. It’s pole position and a crushing win on Sunday for Dixon, plus cartoon anvils raining down on Newgarden in the opening laps – and even that might not get the job done. Dixon’s small odds of becoming a six-time champ suggest 2020 is the next opportunity for it to take place. 

Minus the anvils and the IndyCar bowling balls, Newgarden could be just fine to take home his second NTT IndyCar Series championship. But with how this 2019 season has been, has anything gone according to plan? No, nothing has gone according to plan. It is to the point where Newgarden shouldn’t be able to sleep peacefully before the season is over. The NTT IndyCar Series haven’t raced at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca since 1994, so we don’t know how the race will play out. Four drivers have a mathematical chance to win the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship. Who will come out on top and take home the Astor Cup? We’ll find out this Sunday for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at 2:30 P.M. EST on NBC!

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