DIXON VS. CASTRONEVES, FOR ALL THE MARBLES
It’s finally time to crown a champion. Scott Dixon enters tonight with a 25-point advantage over Helio Castroneves and with two series championships in his career, he knows the score and should handle the situation as it evolves. Castroneves, on the other hand, has no series championships but despite his dreadful weekend in Houston, he at least has the ability to go for broke tonight. And as we all know, a lot can happen over 500 miles…
CHEVY VS. HONDA, ALSO FOR ALL THE MARBLES
The manufacturer’s championship also comes to a conclusion tonight as Chevrolet and Honda will go about breaking a 9-9 tie in terms of race wins this season. But as Tony DiZinno noted this week, both championship contenders are ineligible to score manufacturer points (nine for a win, six for second place or worse). Honda has been on a rampage ever since their 1-2-3 finish at Pocono in July, but if tonight comes down to horsepower, Chevy may have the edge on this wide, fast oval.
TROUBLE ON THE SURFACE?
As myself and Tony have talked about leading up to tonight, the two-mile oval at ACS can be a tricky one to deal with at 220+ miles per hour. Full of bumps and seams, the surface is difficult to negotiate and dialing in the car to handle these obstacles properly will be essential to success. The glare of the setting sun at Fontana has also been known to cause drama for those in the cockpit, but with the start pushed back to around 9:10 p.m. ET (6:10 p.m. PT/local time), that issue should be minimized somewhat.
Alex Tagliani replaces the injured Dario Franchitti as Dixon’s main wingman for Target Chip Ganassi Racing tonight, while A.J. Allmendinger provides support for Castroneves in a third Team Penske machine, the No. 2. Both have proven their worth at big ovals, but Tagliani could be a major threat as the laps wind down; last year’s race at Fontana could’ve been his if not for an engine failure on his No. 98 Barracuda Racing Honda.