IndyCar points race 4th-tightest in history, with Champ to be crowned Oct. 10 in Miami


Briscoe edged Dixon by a nose setting up a two race dash to the Championship at Miami Oct. 10 (photo courtesy: Robert Laberge, Getty Images Sport)

IndyCar has made a habit of making its finale count, with the series Champion not determined until the season’s final lap in each of the last three seasons. As the Oct. 10 IndyCar Championship at Homestead-Miami approached, there were three drivers looking to keep that streak alive: Australian upstart Ryan Briscoe, 2007 Champ Dario Franchitti and reigning Champion Scott Dixon. Indeed, the 25-point differential between 1st (Briscoe) and 2nd place (Franchitti) and the 33-point differential between 1st and 3rd place (Dixon) represented the fourth-closest margins in IndyCar Series history. In one of the most contested title races in history, the points lead changed hands 13 times through its first 15 races.

"I'm happy to not lead now as long as we can lead at Homestead," Dixon said with three races remaining on the 2009 schedule. " We won [at Homestead-Miami] last year and finished second at [Japan].”

Said Briscoe at the same juncture: "If we're going to win the Championship, I'm going to have to win one of these last three.” And he did, taking the checkered flag at Chicagoland in late August. "We just have to keep getting these points.”

Franchitti, who held off Dixon on the final lap at Chicagoland in 2007 to clinch the IndyCar Series title, expects that the IndyCar Championship will again go down to the wire—for the first time under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway, on Oct. 10.

"It's just so competitive that you can't afford mistakes," Franchitti said. "We've all made them this year. Actually, we've all had bad luck as well. When you get the chance, you got to score the points."

A review of the last three IndyCar Championship seasons reveals the last-lap drama:

2008: Helio Castroneves trailed points leader Scott Dixon by 30 points heading into the season finale but stormed all the way from the 28th starting position to beat Dixon to the checkered flag by .0033 seconds. Castroneves fell just short in points, as Dixon narrowly claimed the Championship.

2007: Dario Franchitti passed Scott Dixon in Turn 4 on the last lap to claim the race and the Championship.

2006: Helio Castroneves led the points heading into the Championship, followed by Hornish Jr. (one point back) and Dan Wheldon (18 back). Wheldon won the finale, Hornish finished third and Castroneves fourth, resulting in a standings tie between Wheldon and Hornish, who won the IndyCar crown based on the strength of victories (four to two)

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