Both of this year's remaining IndyCar championship contenders, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves, have reason to hope for better fortune as the series returns to The Raceway at Belle Isle in Detroit this weekend, particularly after the Brazilian slashed into his rival's lead last time out.

Dixon came into the inaugural event at Belle Isle with a four-point lead in the 2007 championship having hunted down Dario Franchitti over the second half of the season, and was running third with two laps to go when the car ahead of him spun. The Kiwi, with few other options, also spun, but made contact with the wall, finishing eighth and dropping into second place in the standings.

Holding a far stronger position this time around, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner doesn't dwell on events last year - or the twelfth-place finish at Infineon Raceway last Sunday that saw his points lead cut from 78 to 43 by racewinner Castroneves.

"No, not at all," said Dixon, who will be attempting to clinch a record-setting seventh victory of the season in Detroit, "You've got to take it race by race. There's no point dwelling on what happened. I think the [Infineon] weekend was just frustrating in the fact that the decisions we made were the wrong ones. I guess, after such a successful season so far, we probably deserve one that didn't go our way.

"We're still very confident, and we've still got a big lead. Forty-three points in two races is pretty hard to soak up, but I'm sure [Penske and Castroneves] are going to do the best they can to try and take over that. All in all, though, we're pretty motivated."

Castroneves, meanwhile, is on a high having finally broken a 29-race barren streak with his first victory since St Petersburg 2007. As has been the case on several occasions in that run, he could have won at Belle Isle last season, and has has fond memories of racing there despite being knocked out of the race after starting from the pole.

"This track is great, with a lot of great memories," he confirmed, "I got my first win [in Detroit's Champ Car event in 2000] but this place is very difficult, with not much of a straightaway and very bumpy. The good news is the guy who figures out how to get through the bumps is going to be in good shape.

"Certainly, we'll be looking to find that setup, and we think we have. Momentum is what we have now. We're going to carry this great positive attitude from the team and translate that onto the racetrack all weekend. Starting position is going to be very important so, Saturday, we're going to try and put it on the front row, and Sunday we're going to try and bring it home."

Among those hoping to throw a spanner in the works for both contenders will be Danica Patrick who, prior to her win at Twin Ring Motegi this year, counted second place in last year's Detroit event as her career-best finish.

After starting eleventh, the Andretti Green Racing driver worked her way into the top ten and was running fifth late in the race when the drivers in second, third and fourth - including Dixon - were involved in an incident with two laps to go.

"It was great to stand next to Tony Kanaan on the podium, first and second," said Patrick, who has three top-five finishes this season, "Hopefully, we can do something similar again."

Patrick knows another podium finish this weekend at Belle Isle won't be easy, especially given the increased competition within the IndyCar ranks, but is hopeful that the AGR crew can get her somewhere near the front again.

"Passing is very difficult here," she admitted, "It's difficult to pass on any road course really but, here, it's not like you drop a wheel off in the gravel and keep going or get pushed wide - you hit a wall. There's just nowhere to go. I did a couple of them last year, but they weren't pretty. A lot of crashes end up happening when you try.

"The only other spot you can make up spots outside of actually passing would be through strategy, through fuel saving, through pit-stops - and I think a lot of us tend to rely on strategy for the cleanest passing."

After last year's incidents, both Dixon and Castroneves may be tempted to agree.....