While a 48-point deficit is not an unattainable gap to overcome, Scott Dixon realistically needs to close about 20 to 25 points on Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Juan Pablo Montoya at this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to have a realistic shot to win his fourth series championship.
Luckily, like Chevrolets and American pie, or peanut butter and jelly, few things go better together than Dixon and Mid-Ohio.
Dixon should seemingly have naming rights to the joint considering his level of success there, or at the very least, a corner named after him.
The New Zealander has five wins in the last eight years at Mid-Ohio, all coming in slightly different fashion but still with a level of dominance that is matched by few at any other circuit.
Dixon’s 2007, 2009 and 2011 Mid-Ohio wins saw him control the race from start-to-finish.
In 2012, Dixon jumped ahead of Will Power on the final pit stop sequence, and was able to hold on from there.
Last year, he completed the least likely of his triumphs – a 22nd and last-to-first display, aided by typically brilliant fuel saving.
Said his Chip Ganassi Racing rookie teammate Sage Karam of Dixon’s legendary fuel saving ability, “He’s just amazing with some of the stuff he does with fuel conservation and stuff. That’s been the biggest thing for me this year, learning fuel conservation. Dixon is the best in the business at that.”
Karam’s awe over Dixon’s fuel conservation is shared by many in the IndyCar paddock.
And it will likely again be needed for Dixon to stay in the championship fight for the final three races.
The reason Mid-Ohio is more crucial this year than in the past is specifically down to its place on the schedule.
Last year and 2012, there were three more races after Mid-Ohio. In 2013, there were five more. In 2011, there were six.
But after Sunday’s race, just two races will be left. And with Mid-Ohio the last permanent road course before the double points season finale in Sonoma, getting the setup right and getting a maximum result becomes even more paramount.
Dixon enters the race as the clearest of favorites. If he wins again, he can bank 20 or more points on Montoya if JPM finishes fifth or worse.
The battle between those two – with Graham Rahal determined to continue his giant-killing season, now sandwiched in-between them – will be the single biggest thing to monitor race day, Sunday, at Mid-Ohio.