Two-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will decide the 2013 title Saturday night in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Dixon, who drives for Chip Ganassi, leads Castroneves, Roger Penske's mainstay, by 25 points going into the 250-lap event on the 2-mile oval. Qualifying is Friday at 2:15 p.m. The 500-mile race on Saturday will be televised on NBCSN at 5 p.m. PDT, with the green flag at 5:50.
For the eighth consecutive season, the Izod IndyCar Series championship will be decided in the season's final race -- without benefit of a NASCAR Chase-style format.
"As typical of many IndyCar Series championships, I think it's going to come down to the last-lap, last-corner scenario," said Dixon, who earned his titles in 2003 and '08. "For us, we just hope that we're on the good receiving end."
Dixon needs to finish just fifth to clinch, but he's aiming higher.
"I think for us the easiest way to approach it is how we typically approach a race weekend, and that's to go there setting our sights on winning it," Dixon said. "If we can achieve that, then it makes the championship story just sort of unfold."
Castroneves is seeking his first IndyCar title; he was the runner-up to Sam Hornish Jr. in 2002, and to Dixon in '08.
"At this point, I feel that I have nothing to lose, so there is no pressure to be honest," Castroneves said. "You just go for it.
"We're going to look for our best result, and on the ovals, try to replicate what we did in Texas, and hopefully, we'll be successful."
Teams tested in Fontana on Sept. 24, and the Chevrolet power of the Penske team has been stronger on the ovals, while the Honda engines of the Ganassi team are better on the road courses.
"It'll be a tough situation," Dixon said. "Helio and Chevy were quick at the test. Chevys have proven to be very fast on these bigger circuits, 2-mile, 2-mile-plus. It's not going to be easy by any means and something that we're going to have to fight to the bitter end. We'll go into the weekend obviously trying to achieve a win."
The championship carries a $1 million prize. There's also $250,000 available to Dixon, who won the Pocono Indy 400, or 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kaanan if they win the race, which is part of the Fuzzy's Triple Crown.
"It's always a long race, almost three hours of racing," Castroneves said. "Anything can happen, and at this point, we had a fantastic test, were really superfast. I was extremely happy with the car in Fontana, and we just hope to continue with that and that will bring us a successful result."
The series returned to Fontana last year for the first time since 2005, and Ed Carpenter scored his second career victory while Ryan Hunter-Reay won the championship with a fourth-place finish for Michael Andretti's team.
Penske driver Will Power went into the season finale with a 17-point advantage, but made wall contact on Lap 55 and finished 24th.
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