1. IZOD IndyCar Series Championship Overview: Series title comes down to final race again
2. 2014 IndyCar Series schedule to be released on 'INDYCAR Championship Preview Show
3. Holmatro Safety Team honored at annual team dinner
1. IZOD IndyCar Series Championship Overview: Series title comes down to final race again: Helio Castroneves has been in this position before.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner entered the 2008 season finale chasing Scott Dixon, who had a 30-point lead.
Castroneves did everything he could do and despite starting last after his qualifying run was disallowed, he managed to win the race by .0033 of a second. The only problem? Dixon, a six-time race winner in '08, was there with him at the finish - netting a runner-up result that garnered a second IndyCar title by 17 points over the Brazilian.
He'll need a similar result and a little help to erase a 25-point deficit to Dixon in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway on Oct. 19.
"At this point I feel that I have nothing to lose, so there is no pressure to be honest," said Castroneves, who led the standings after 12 of the previous 15 events. "You have to just go for it. We're going to look for our best result, and try to replicate what we did in Texas and hopefully we'll be successful."
It's the eighth consecutive season that the IZOD IndyCar Series championship has come down to the final race of the year
Castroneves had a 49-point lead over Dixon going into the Oct. 5-6 doubleheader in Houston. Gearbox issues in both races dropped Castroneves 25 points behind Dixon, who won Race 1 and was runner-up in Race 2.
Dixon, who will be seeking his third IZOD IndyCar Series championship, will have Alex Tagliani as his teammate while Dario Franchitti continues to recover in Indianapolis from injuries suffered in a last-lap crash at in Race 2 at Houston.
"Every year we compete we try to win the championship, and I think definitely over the last five or six years we've had a good shot sort of going into the last one each of those years," Dixon said. "It's a good situation for us to be in and one that we'll dig deep and try and carry out, but obviously with the competition against Penske and Helio, a very accomplished team and a very accomplished driver, it's not going to be easy at all.
"As typical of many IndyCar Series championships, I think it's going to come down to the last lap, last corner scenario. For us, we just hope that we're on the good receiving end."
Did You Know? 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship:
· Scott Dixon leads the IZOD IndyCar Series championship heading into the final race for the fourth time in his career. He also led in 2003 and 2008 when he won the title and in 2009 when he finished second to Dario Franchitti.
· Dixon leads Castroneves by 25 points. It is the only time he has led the standings this season and the first time that he's led the championship since there was one race to go in 2009.
· There are two drivers eligible for the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship: Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon.
· Simon Pagenaud, Justin Wilson, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Will Power, Charlie Kimball and Dario Franchitti were eliminated from contention at Houston.
· This is the eighth straight season that the IZOD IndyCar Series title will be decided in the season-ending race.
Drivers still mathematically eligible for championship: 2
Key Championship statistic: Since 2009, the driver who entered the final race with the points lead has failed to win the IZOD IndyCar Series title. The last point leader to win the title was Scott Dixon in 2008.
Largest 1-2 point differential since: 2011. With one race to go, the 2013 points battle (25 points separate first and second) is the largest that it's been since the 2008 season when first and second place were separated by 30 points. The average point deficit with one to go since 2005 is 13.0 points.
Championship-eligible drivers at Auto Club Speedway: Helio Castroneves has nine starts at Auto Club Speedway with a best finish of fifth in 2002 and 2012. Scott Dixon has six starts at Auto Club Speedway with a best finish of second in 2003. He finished third in the 2012 race.
Championship-eligible drivers on ovals: Helio Castroneves has 16 oval wins (2001-Indianapolis; 2002-Phoenix, Indianapolis; 2003-Gateway, Nazareth; 2004-Texas 2; 2005-Richmond; 2006- Motegi, Texas, Michigan; 2008-Chicagoland; 2009-Indianapolis, Texas; 2010-Kentucky, Motegi; 2013-Texas). Four of Castroneves' wins have come on a superspeedway. Scott Dixon has 18 oval wins (2001-Nazareth; 2003-Homestead, Pikes Peak, Richmond; 2006- Nashville; 2007- Nashville; 2008-Homestead, Indianapolis, Texas, Nashville, Kentucky; 2009-Kansas, Milwaukee, Richmond, Motegi; 2010-Kansas, Homestead; 2013-Pocono). Two of Dixon's wins have come on a superspeedway - Indianapolis 2008 and Pocono 2013.
2. 2014 IndyCar Series schedule to be released on 'INDYCAR Championship Preview Show: The full 2014 IndyCar Series schedule will be unveiled during an hour-long show Oct. 17 on NBC Sports Network that also focuses on the championship-deciding MAVTV 500 on Oct. 19 at Auto Club Speedway.
The special airs at 8 p.m. (ET).
Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR, reviews the 2014 schedule, which will include the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10 on a reconfigured road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The event will jump-start Month of May activities, leading into the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 25.
NBC Sports Network colleagues Leigh Diffey, Robin Miller and Kevin Lee will preview the championship duel between Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon in the 250-lap twilight race on the 2-mile oval.
The panel also reviews the highly competitive 18 races, which have been marked by 10 different winners and four first-time winners.
NBC Sports Network will have full coverage of the race weekend from Fontana, Calif. The lineup (check local listings; all times Eastern):
* Friday, Oct. 18 -- 7 p.m. MAVTV 500 qualifications
* Saturday, Oct. 18 -- 7 p.m. Lefty's Kids Club 100 Firestone Indy Lights race
* Saturday, Oct. 19 -- 8 p.m. MAVTV 500 IZOD IndyCar Series race
3. Holmatro Safety Team honored at annual team dinner: Each member of INDYCAR's Holmatro Safety Team was recognized for their service during a dinner Oct. 11 at the Dallara facility in Indianapolis.
IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Charlie Kimball and Takuma Sato popped in to relay their thanks and give driving pointers on the simulators.
The Holmatro Safety Team, comprised of about 30 safety personnel who have an average of 20 years' experience in their respective areas, works in conjunction with and coordinates safety personnel staffing at each venue.
A minimum of 18 attend each event, including a trauma physician, an orthopedic physician, two paramedics, 12 firefighters/EMTs, and two registered nurses.
About 75 percent of the team are civil servants who are officers in their departments, such as captains, lieutenants and a fire chief.
Holmatro tools have been an important INDYCAR resource since 1996, and Holmatro Incorporated became the Safety Team sponsor in 2010. Founded in 1967, the global company designs and manufactures high-pressure hydraulic equipment for rescue, industrial and marine applications.
"We are not a consumer product. Our value comes from bringing targeted people to events and then being able to introduce them to the guys on the safety team because they speak the same language," Swayne said. "For our customer base, a guy who runs a rescue squad in a fire department looks at these guys as a rock band and says, 'I could be in that band because I have the same skills sets and I know what they know.'
"It's really neat to see that happen. That's where we get our value and that's one of the reasons we like to do this safety team dinner each year. It's another opportunity to say thanks. These guys never fail to impress me and make me feel proud."
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the MAV TV 500 on Oct. 19 at Auto Club Speedway. The race will be televised live by NBC Sports Network at 8 p.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211, www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 13 App for most smartphones and tablets. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Lefty's Kids Club 100 on Oct. 19 at Auto Club Speedway. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 7 p.m. (ET) on Oct. 19.