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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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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”