After the last two weeks off, the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action this weekend for the ABC Supply 500 (1:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network) at the Pocono Raceway. This race starts the final stint of the 2018 season as we will have four races over the next five weeks. Currently, Scott Dixon leads the standings over Alexander Rossi by 46 points. That’s the fifth-largest margin with four races to go since the 2008 season. Since that timeframe, only Dario Franchitti (2010) and Dixon (2015) overcame leads of more than 50 points with four races remaining.
The average deficit with four races to go since 2008 is 35.7 points.
The driver that has also led the championship with four races to go has won the championship only five of the 10 times since 2008. Scott Dixon (2008), Dario Franchitti (2011), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2012), Simon Pagenaud (2016) and Josef Newgarden (2017) all won titles after holding the lead with four to go.
In terms of Dixon, this is the third time of his career that he’s led the standings at this point of the season. He also led the championship with four to go when he won the title in 2008 but in 2009 he led with four races left but his teammate Dario Franchitti caught him and passed him for the title. Dixon, would finish second.
Dixon took over the points lead following his win at Texas on June 9 and hasn’t given it back since.
While Rossi is in the hunt, so are 14 other drivers. Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, Robert Wickens, Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais, Marco Andretti, Takuma Sato, Ed Jones and Spencer Pigot join Dixon and Rossi as championship eligible heading into this weekend’s race.
Any driver who trails the points leader by 213 points or more following the race will be eliminated from contention.
Newgarden (-60), Power (-87) and Hunter-Reay (-95) are realistically the only other ones who can win the title. That’s why this weekend’s race is so important. Since the first Indy car race at Pocono in 1971, the winning driver has won the Indy car championship six times: Joe Leonard (1972), A.J. Foyt (1975 and 1979), Tom Sneva (1977), Rick Mears (1982) and Scott Dixon (2013).
Power (2016 and 2017), Hunter-Reay (2015) and Dixon (2013) have won previous races at Pocono. Power has won three of the last four 500-mile races, including back-to-back races (Pocono 2017 and Indianapolis 2018). Al Unser is the only driver to win three consecutive 500-mile races, all in 1978 (Indianapolis, Pocono, Ontario). Newgarden and Power have finished in the top five in four of their five starts at Pocono. Dixon, Newgarden and Power have finished in the top 10 in all five of their starts.
So, there’s a good chance all the title contenders will be strong this weekend.