Parity has reigned supreme this year, as eight different drivers have won a race this season. Seven drivers were still mathematically alive last weekend at Portland, but two were eliminated. Five are still eligible to take home the Astor Cup on Sunday, but two of them will need a minor miracle to make that happen. This is essentially a three-horse race, with a gap of just 20 points separating the trio.

The championship will once again be decided between the two powerhouse teams of Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske. This is the 14th time in the last 15 years that the title will be won by one of these two organizations. The only instance where another team won the title was when Ryan Hunter-Reay won with Andretti Autosport, a decade ago.

Will Power comes into the weekend as the leader, despite only having one victory this season. The last time a driver won the IndyCar title without multiple race wins was Tony Stewart in 1997. That speaks volumes to the remarkable consistency that Power has had this season, and his mental approach is a big part of that.

Power only needs a podium finish to secure his second championship. If he is able to do that on Sunday, it doesn't matter what anyone else does. Qualifying and track position will be vital, which plays right into his hands. Earlier this season, the 2014 champion earned his 67th career pole, tying Mario Andretti on the all-time list. There have been 24 races at Laguna Seca, and 20 of them have been won by the driver starting on the front row. Only twice has a driver won this race by starting lower than 3rd on the grid.

"I just want to win this championship for the guys who have been with me for more than a decade like my engineer Dave Faustino and my data acquisition guy Robbie Atkinson and the group. It’s a lot less selfish for me this time around because they deserve it," Power said. "I feel their pain over the years of losing so many. I’d love to win it for them. We’re in the best position and have the best shot. We’ll do everything we can."

Ultimately, this is Power's championship to lose. That is something he has done multiple times in the past, but this newer and more positive Will seems impossible to rattle. Unless something drastic happens to the No. 12 car on Sunday, Power will become a two-time champion.

Josef Newgarden has had the exact opposite type of season, with five race wins but several poor finishes. It has been a feast-or-famine type of year for the Penske ace, but he is in position to battle his teammate for the title. Newgarden sits 20 points behind Power, hungry for his third championship. It might not mean anything, but the last time the season ended at Laguna Seca, Newgarden won the championship.

There were a couple of big moments this season that have landed Newgarden in this position. The first was his incredible victory at Texas, in what was a photo finish for the ages. That earned him ten more points, but he lost 42 points when a shock failure at Iowa sent him into the wall while leading.

Instead of trying to understand it, Newgarden has just embraced his peculiar season. He is grateful to still have a legitimate shot at the title, and is only focused on getting another win and letting the points sort themselves out.

“At this point, it just kind of is what it is. We’re going to try to win that race and go for broke. It’s been kind of a weird year. Everyone has done such a great job on this No. 2 car. I’m so proud and happy with everybody. They’ve really put a good effort together. It’s either been winning the race or some weird luck has happened. We just seem to be on the odd end of these things and they’re not working out. I don’t know how Laguna is going to play out. We’re going to go and play to win. We’ll see what happens.”

Scott Dixon is no stranger to this situation. The six-time series champion finds himself tied with Newgarden heading into the final race because of another masterful drive last weekend at Portland. After starting from the 16th spot, The Iceman sliced his way through the field, and delivered another podium result that gave him a serious shot at a record-tying seventh title.

Although he is battling two Penske drivers, Dixon should have the advantage this weekend. While Penske spent their final test day at Portland before that event, Ganassi chose instead to use theirs at Laguna Seca. That move paid off mightily for Penske, as they dominated practice, qualifying, and the race there. Dixon is hoping for similar results this weekend, trying to give Chip his fourth title in the last five years.

Much like his rival Power, Dixon has been remarkably consistent this year. The only time he has finished outside of the top-ten in the 16 races this season was in the Indy 500 - a race that he had won before his brutal pit road speeding penalty. These two veterans have a lot in common, and they are also the only two drivers that have completed all 2,173 laps this season.

The speeding penalty is always going to be a nightmare that haunts Dixon, but it will definitely lessen the sting if he is able to still capture the title on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how much help he gets from his three teammates. One is battling him for the title, one is essentially a back marker, and one is likely leaving as soon as the checkered flag waves on Sunday.

The other two title contenders are also from the Ganassi and Penske stables. Neither driver has ever won an IndyCar championship, but they don't have the experience of the three guys they are chasing.

Marcus Ericsson is 39 points out of the lead, and trying to become the first driver since Dario Franchitti in 2010 to win the Indianapolis 500 and the series championship in the same season. The odds are against him, but Ericsson himself has already admitted that this season is a win, no matter what happens on Sunday.

"I won the 500 and I’ve been running at the front all year,” Ericsson said. “I feel like whatever happens, it’s a win for me. Of course I very badly want that championship, and I’m going to do everything to make that happen. My overall feeling is just excitement. I’m looking forward to going for it."

Scott McLaughlin is 41 points out of the lead, thanks in large part to his recent success. Now in his second season, McLaughlin has finished 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, and 1st in the last five races. He won the season-opening race at St Petersburg and the race at Mid-Ohio, and has seven total podiums this year. He nearly won the race at Texas, before a last-lap pass by teammate Newgarden stole all of his momentum.

There were no team orders last weekend at Portland, where McLaughlin would have been told to let Power by him to win the race. That would have increased Will’s lead to 30 points, almost assuring him of the title.

Power asked the team on his radio, but his request was denied. "I would be more comfortable if it was 30 points ahead instead of 20, but I’m in the best position of everyone," he said. "Just need to get to Laguna and do a good job."

There are several other storylines to keep an eye on this weekend, outside of the championship. There are a number of drivers that are still searching for their first win this season, and Sunday will be their final opportunity. The most notable names include Felix Rosenqvist, Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud, Romain Grosjean, Helio Castroneves, and reigning series champion Alex Palou.

There is also the Rookie of the Year battle between Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Christian Lundgaard and Dale Coyne Racing's David Malukas. Lundgaard holds a 5-point edge heading into the weekend as both drivers have scored a runner-up finish this season. Sunday's race will also be the final start for Alexander Rossi at Andretti Autosport. After seven full-time seasons, eight wins, 28 podiums, and an unforgettable Indy 500 victory, Rossi will be joining Arrow McLaren SP next season.

Rossi's teammate Colton Herta could be making his final start on Sunday as well. The second-generation driver has been rumored to be in line for a seat in Formula One next season, should the FIA solve the issue surrounding his license points. Herta might go out on a high note, as he has dominated this race the last two years. He won both races from pole position, leading 174 of the 185 laps.

The weekend kicks off on Friday with a practice session at 5:30 PM ET. A one-hour practice will run on Saturday, followed by qualifying at 5 PM. All on-track activity will be available live on Peacock. Coverage for Sunday's race begins at 3 PM ET on NBC.