The IndyCar Series will enter a vital stage at Kentucky Speedway this weekend with just six drivers still in contention for the title going into the Meijer Indy 300.
Scott Dixon currently leads the way for Chip Ganassi Racing with a 65 point lead over Penske's Helio Castroneves, but Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe and Danica Patrick could all still lift the 2008 title.
Dixon however will hope that history repeats itself, with the points leader with four races remaining having taken the title in five of the last seven years, although he admits that Kentucky isn't the easiest circuit on the calendar to kick-start the vital run-in.
“Kentucky is a tough track,” he said. “We just tested there, so that might help a little bit since it's only a two-day event. It still comes down to the race, and Helio's always there at the end. You have to make sure you have everything right.
“We've got four races to go and a 65-point lead, but that's very catchable, for Helio especially. For the next four races, the people we're competing against are all really good at those four races. Helio, I think is the real threat. He's been very quick the past few races. They've stepped up their game a lot.”
Dixon, a five-time winner this season, has finished second three times in five starts at Kentucky. Castroneves, who has six second-place finishes this season, has a best finish of third at Kentucky.
“Kentucky is a tough track to master, because it's very bumpy and very fast,” the Penske man admitted. “There is hardly any banking, so it's always a challenge to make sure we get the right setup on the Team Penske car. The racing is extremely tight with a lot of side-by-side action, which makes for an exciting show for the fans. It seems that the race always comes down to the final laps, and I'm not expecting anything different this year.
“Historically, this hasn't been one of my stronger tracks, but it's my goal to turn that around this year. I have had a solid and consistent year, and we're right there in the championship standings. We'll need a strong finish this weekend as well as a little luck to go our way in order to make up some ground in the points battle. We have a lot of momentum heading into Kentucky; we've won the last four poles and I've finished on the podium the last three races. I certainly think with the way Team Penske has been performing we have it in us to claim the title when all is said and done.”
Wheldon and Kanaan are the other two main contenders in terms of the championship crown, with Briscoe and Patrick set to eliminated from the race for the title unless they can close to within 159 points of the lead over the course of the weekend.