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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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Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”