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NBCSN announcers all agree: Scott Dixon will win IndyCar crown on Sunday in Sonoma

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SONOMA, California – It’s unanimous: Scott Dixon will win the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

That’s how NBCSN announcers Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell, Paul Tracy, Robin Miller, Katie Hargitt, Jon Beekhuis and Kevin Lee all predict how Sunday’s season-ending and more importantly the championship-deciding Grand Prix of Sonoma will play out.

Admittedly, there is some sentiment to see Alexander Rossi win the title, but when all is said and done, Dixon is the man.

NBCSN IndyCar booth announcers Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy and all four pit reporters are picking Scott Dixon to win the championship on Sunday at Sonoma.

 

MotorSportsTalk polled all seven announcers – make sure you tune in to the live broadcast Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT – and they had some very interesting insights:

Leigh Diffey (play-by-play): “Scott Dixon is my pick and I think it’s pretty straight-forward as to the reason why. For almost 20 years now, he’s shown us the true caliber of the driver he is. He’s very difficult to get flustered, he’s so calm, he’s so consistent, he’s incredibly strong, he’s the complete package as we know. And I’m excited from the historical standpoint that if he wins the championship, or in my opinion when he wins the championship, it’s going to be 51 years since we’ve seen a five-time champion and he’ll join A.J. Foyt as a five-time champion. Of course, A.J. Foyt has seven (championships), but I just think from that historical perspective, that’s the feeling I have in my gut that he’ll do it. I love that aspect to it. I think that this upswing that we’re all witnessing and enjoying in IndyCar at the moment, I think it would be appropriate for Scott to win. Likewise, if Rossi wins, it’s a great American story, a young American champion and there’s plenty of merit to that side of the story a lot of merit, as well, but I still think Dixon’s going to do it.”

Townsend Bell (analyst): “I would pick Scott Dixon because if both Dixon and (Alexander) Rossi were given truth serum, I think Alexander Rossi would say Dixon (will win the title) just because of the unbelievable luck that Rossi feels Dixon has experienced this season. And, I think Dixon would pick Dixon because that’s what he does, he wins championships. So I’m picking Scott Dixon, if for no other reason, that he comes into this with a decent lead in the championship, regardless of double points, you want to be ahead, he is ahead and I think he’ll stay ahead.”

Paul Tracy (analyst): “I’m torn. I mean, I’d like to see Rossi win because I think he’s driven incredibly well this year. But if I had to go to Vegas and put my money in terms of winning, I would say Dixon is going to win it.”

Robin Miller (pit reporter): “If I could borrow money on my condo and triple-mortgage it that Scott Dixon with a 29-point lead, I’d borrow everything I could because he’s not going to lose. He’s too smart, he’s too smooth, he’s too fast. And as great of a season as Alex has had and challenging (Dixon) and done a great job, I don’t know if there’s ever been a guy that you want (to win the title as Dixon). If Dixon was 29 points behind Rossi, I’d still bet on him. People are talking about pressure and things like that, but brother, he doesn’t feel any pressure whether he’s ahead or behind. It looks just like another day in the park for him. And for NBCSN viewers, I wish it would come down to the last lap, but I don’t think so. The Penske guys (Will Power and Josef Newgarden) have no chance. It’s Dixie in a walk. In 303 starts, Scott has finished 21st or worse in just 14 starts. That’s a pretty staggering statistic. A bad race for him is fifth. He’s unbelievable.”

Katie Hargitt (pit reporter): “I think Scott Dixon is going to win the championship, but I would like Alex to win it. I want Alex to win because I feel he’s the future of IndyCar, he’s a young American who has been basically a human highlight reel all season. He’s been my favorite thing to watch all season long, really just bold passes. And his personality is, ‘I don’t care, I’m going to go out and do out and do whatever it takes to win.’ I think his attitude and his performance on-track just make him a fascinating character in IndyCar right now.”

Kevin Lee (pit reporter): “I think Will Power will win the pole and the race. That means Scott Dixon wins the championship because he has the advantage, he’ll be able to stay within range – if not in front – of Rossi. To win the championship, Rossi really needs to win the race, because Dixon is going to finish in the top five. I think most people around the sport know how good Scott Dixon is, but this will make it easier to define, just put up a raw number out there. When you can say A.J. Foyt only has as many championships as Scott Dixon, that’s about enough. And when you have more than Mario Andretti, you’re in a different real estate area than everybody else.”

Jon Beekhuis (pit reporter): “I think it’ll be Scott Dixon. When you see what happened at Portland a couple weeks ago, what we’re killing ‘the miracle on dirt,’ you have to think wow! If he could escape that cloud of dust with a car that was mostly undamaged and go back and finish ahead of his rival. Oftentimes, years when you win championships, things just fall into place. There’s no guarantee that it falls into place here in Sonoma, but it’s certainly looking that way and he’s definitely a worthy champion.”

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Dean Wilson’s life as a privateer reconnects the rider to his roots

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One of the added benefits of subscribing to NBC Sports Gold is the in-depth interviews from each Saturday’s action. Last week between the first and second rounds of qualification for the Glendale Supercross race, a relaxed and confident Dean Wilson joined Race Day Live’s Daniel Blair and Jim Holley to review his fourth-place finish in the season opener and his mindset moving forward.

Losing factory support from Rockstar / Husqvarna at the end of 2018 was not exactly what Wilson had in mind, but after getting off to a great start in the first two races this season, it may well have been a blessing in disguise.

The life of a privateer is not exactly relaxed, but it affords a rider the opportunity to call his own shots. For Wilson, it is also a way to reconnect with the grassroots feel that attracted him to Supercross in the first place.

“I think that’s what I like,” Wilson said on Race Day Live. “I think that’s the environment and atmosphere I like – it’s just more low key. At Anaheim I, you would think I was local racing at Glen Helen. I had a Sprinter and I had another trailer just to chill in, do my spins. It was so cold I had a little propane heater to warm me up. But I like that. That’s what works for me.”

MORE: Dean Wilson’s Cinderella story at Anaheim 

The program Wilson was able to put together during the offseason produced back-to back top 10s – a much better start to the 2019 season than he experienced last year.

In 2018, Wilson did not score a top 10 until his fourth feature at San Diego. His first top five would not come until late March in Indianapolis.

This year Wilson got the hole shot and led 14 laps at Anaheim in the opener before finishing fourth. Last week in Glendale, he finished eighth.

“What was going through my head was ‘it’s about time; it’s about five years too late to lead some laps here,’ ” Wilson described his emotion as he led at Anaheim. “It was nice because I did a lot of work in the off-season and my starts were really good. The thing is I haven’t over-analyzed my starts and practice.”

At Anaheim I, Wilson struggled with visibility as his goggles began to get fouled by mud. A once comfortable lead was eroded by Justin Barcia. With pressure from behind, Wilson made a minor mistake that was then compounded by lapped traffic.

“I was leading my laps; I was just trying to hit my marks. I was doing really well until I made a couple of mistakes. I couldn’t hit that middle double, double … the rut was getting real chewed out, but I was already on the right side where you couldn’t double the middle part so you had to go roll, roll, roll – and Barcia was already on me.”

Wilson’s pair of top 10s was enough to keep him fifth in the standings, three points behind Glendale’s winner Blake Baggett.

For more, watch the video above.

Next Race: Anaheim II Jan. 19, 11 p.m., NBCSN

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