INDIANAPOLIS – How can a driver seventh in the Verizon IndyCar Series points standings that’s over 100 points out be Scott Dixon’s biggest threat for the 2018 championship? Well, it’s all because of how hot he’s been and how good of the track are coming up for him too. Simon Pagenaud, has five straight top 10 finishes on the season, two of which being runner-ups. Now, we’re set for a five race string that see all the remaining tracks favor the Team Penske driver.
Among those final five races of the 2018 season, three of which are on natural road courses. Since the start of 2016, no one has been better than Pagenaud on these tracks. If you go back to that 2016 season, Pagenaud has made 15 starts on natural road courses. He’s won five of them and finished in the top 10 in all but one.
At Mid-Ohio, the site of next weekends race, Pagenaud won in 2016 and finished in the top four in five of his last six starts there. The next natural road course is at Portland, a track where no one has experience at, so don’t count him out there. Then, it’s to Sonoma to close out the year where Pagenaud has won each of the last two years there. He also has three podiums in his last four Sonoma tries.
Throw in a race at Pocono, a superspeedway like the ones at Indy and Texas where Pagenaud came home sixth and second respectively in 2018, it bodes well for his prospects for the August race. That leaves the final race left that we haven’t discussed in Gateway where Pagenaud was in the mix to win in 2017. He led 13 laps but was shoved aside by Josef Newgarden in the end and would finish third as a result.
So, with what you see coming up and see how well the Frenchman has been on those tracks and look at how everyone else ahead of him other than Dixon are reeling, to me Pagenaud is Dixon’s biggest threat right now. He’s getting better and better as the season has gone on and heading to some of his most successful tracks.