IndyCar’s championship contenders ready their thoughts, minds for Sonoma finale

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SONOMA, Calif. – Selected quotes follow from the six drivers eligible for championship contention at this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway:

ON TITLE HOPES

Juan Pablo Montoya: “I’m pretty excited. I’m pretty excited. I think we got everything we need to be doing to put ourselves in this position. Sunday, whatever is going to happen is going to happen with double points.”

Graham Rahal: “Well, I think we got to win. That’s the best-case scenario. We finish third, fourth, fifth, it becomes obviously a bit more difficult. You’re banking on Juan finishing 12th or worse. I don’t think that’s likely.”

Scott Dixon: “As far as the championship goes, I wouldn’t call it exactly wide open, but we need a few things to work in our favor. It’s been a bit of an odd year. We’ve had fast cars, but probably not the results that we wanted, especially early on with the first three or four races.”

Will Power: “Yeah, it hasn’t been a very smooth year, I would say, considering we’ve been quite fast, very good in qualifying. From my perspective, really basically I have to win. I need to get the bonus points. These other guys have to have a really bad day.”

Helio Castroneves: “In the end of the day, it’s another great season. But really looking forward to have one win at least. Probably I’m the only one in this group that didn’t get a win. Really want to finish this season in a good way.”

Josef Newgarden: “Well, I said it earlier in the week. We basically have to win the race. Juan has to break first. Then if Graham would break, that would be great. Then Scott can break down, Will, Helio, then we might win. It would be the craziest story in the history of racing, but it’s possible. Like Helio said, if there’s a chance, you got to go for it.”

ON QUALIFYING WELL

Montoya: “You know, I mean, with the cautions and the way the race normally plays out, we had a penalty last year in qualifying, started 19th, and finished third, so…”

Power: “I feel this year you’d be better to qualify in the back, knock your front wing off, then you have a really good chance of winning.”

ON TIRE DEGRADATION 

Rahal: “The way tire degradation is, particularly this year, I think the new tires seem to have a lot of outright pace initially and might fall off a bunch. With that being said, I mean, it pretty much opens things up.”

Dixon: “This weekend I think degradation is going to be the biggest thing. Whether it’s going to be there or not. I think two or three, maybe four years ago, the race here, we had high degradation on the red tires. They were very fast, but they fell off a little bit, which the race actually turned out phenomenal.”

ON RETURNING TO ACTION A WEEK AFTER TRAGEDY AT POCONO

Newgarden: “It’s the tough part about the sport, it almost seems wrong, but it’s the right thing to do. You got to keep going. That’s what Justin would want. That’s how I would view it, too, if something would happen to me. I don’t want anyone to slow down. Keep doing your thing, enjoy it, love it.”

Castroneves: “People don’t realize for us, we’ve been doing this a long time. It’s our most comfortable position.”