Five drivers have a shot at IndyCar title as series wraps up at Firestone Grand Prix

Will Power drives during the IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix auto race on Belle Isle in Detroit, Sunday, June 5, 2022. Power won the race. (Paul Sancya/AP)

The NTT IndyCar Series is down to its final laps of the season with the 2022 campaign set to conclude Sunday at the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in California.

It's the closest title chase in the series in 19 years with five drivers in contention for the championship and only 41 points separating the quintet. All three of Roger Penske’s drivers — Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin — are in contention for the championship along with a pair from Chip Ganassi’s stable — Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson.  

Here's a look at who could claim the Astor Challenge Cup and be crowned IndyCar Series champion.

[Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect qualifying results.]

1. Will Power (Team Penske)

Points in 2022: 524

Wins in 2022: 1 (Detroit)

Power is in the driver’s seat, pardon the pun, as the championship leader heading into the finale and controls his own destiny, needing to just finish within the top three (or fourth with a bunch of bonus points) to clinch the championship.

The 41-year-old Australian driver is aiming to win his second IndyCar championship after capturing the title once before in 2014.

Power picked up his lone victory of the season (so far) on Belle Isle in Detroit, but his overall consistency has been stellar as he's finished on the podium a total of eight times, including a runner-up result last weekend in Portland.

One advantage for Power is he will start Sunday's race from pole position. Power secured pole five times this season and, with 68 on his career, he has now surpassed the legendary Mario Andretti for first all-time in that category. Pole position also gives Power an extra point, which may factor into the final tally.

There's a super small sample size of Laguna Seca results — IndyCar has only raced at the track twice in recent years — with Power finishing second in 2019 and a distant 26th in 2021, so this could go either way.

Will Power celebrates in the fountain after winning the IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix auto race on Belle Isle in Detroit, Sunday, June 5, 2022. (Paul Sancya/AP)

2. Josef Newgarden (Team Penske)

Points in 2022: 503 

Wins in 2022: 5 (Texas, Long Beach, Road America, Iowa 1 and Gateway)

Newgarden has the most wins this season at five, however, he's also finished outside of the top 10 (or not at all) just as many times. Fate isn't entirely in Newgarden's hands as a sixth win — and even earning all possible bonus points — wouldn't guarantee him the title alone as it'll also depend upon where Power finishes due to the 21-point gap.

The 31-year-old from Nashville is a two-time IndyCar champion (2017 and 2019) and looking to avoid finishing runner-up for the third consecutive season. He finished eighth at Laguna Seca in 2019, which was enough to clinch him the championship that year.

Qualifying may have dashed Newgarden's hopes for the championship though. He spun out on the corkscrew during the first stage bringing out the red flag and deleting his two best times. As a result, Newgarden did not advance out of Q1 and will have to start from the last row on the grid.

3. Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing)

Points in 2022: 503

Wins in 2022: 2 (Toronto and Nashville)

Dixon is level on points with Newgarden but ranked behind him based on wins. The 42-year-old New Zealander’s victories in Toronto and Nashville tied and then surpassed Andretti for second place on the all-time IndyCar wins list at 53.

Dixon looks to continue his march on the record books as the six-time series champion could equal A.J. Foyt for the most titles. He's finished outside of the top 10 just once this season — unfortunately for him, it was at the Indianapolis 500 where points are doubled. Dixon started on pole position and led the most laps but a late pit lane penalty took him out of contention leading to finishing 21st.

He has the most experience at Laguna Seca out of all the contenders — having also raced there during his first two seasons in CART back in 2001 and 2002 — with his best result on the track coming third in 2019.

Dixon just missed the cut for Q2 during Saturday's qualifying and will start 13th. Is that unlucky or what?

4. Marcus Ericsson (Chip Ganassi Racing)

Points in 2022: 484

Wins in 2022: 1 (Indianapolis)

Speaking of the Indianapolis 500, Ericsson was the victor at this year’s "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" and earning double points has kept him in contention ever since. The 32-year-old Swede looks to become the first driver to win both the Indy 500 and the IndyCar Series championship since Dario Franchitti in 2010.

Ericsson has reached the podium two other times this year, finishing third in Texas and second at Road America. The former F1 driver, who qualified P10 for Sunday's race, has to pick up the pace in Laguna Seca, however, as he's finished outside of the top 10 in three of the past four races.

Marcus Ericsson, of Sweden, poses with the Borg-Warner Trophy during the traditional winners photo session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Monday, May 30, 2022. Ericsson won the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 auto race. (Michael Conroy/AP)

5. Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske)

Points in 2022: 482

Wins in 2022: 3 (St. Petersburg, Mid-Ohio and Portland)

There's been no sophomore slump for McLaughlin, who kicked off his second full season with Penske by making a statement and winning the opener in St. Petersburg from pole position no less.

McLaughlin also converted a pole position into victory just last week in Portland to remain in contention (mathematically at least).

The 29-year-old New Zealander, who qualified P8 Saturday, is a veteran of Australia’s Supercars Championship with three titles in that series and is looking for his first in IndyCar.

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