July 18, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Friday's motors roundup: Scott Dixon seeks another sweep in Toronto

Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Chevrolet, is looking for another sweep in Toronto to make a push for an IndyCar title. (Robert Laberge / Getty Images)

Toronto — Scott Dixon is running out of races to become a championship threat.

He’s been in this spot before.

The three-time IndyCar champion might be at the right track to prove it’s still too early to count him out for a fourth title.

Coming off a victory at Pocono, Dixon still wasn’t thinking about a championship when he arrived at Toronto last year. The next two races changed everything. He swept the Toronto doubleheader, moving him from fourth overall in the driver standings to second. He’d win again at Houston and clinched his third title at Fontana.

Dixon enters this year’s doubleheader in a familiar place, well behind his rivals in the points race but one podium sweep from vaulting himself into contention.

“It’s always possible, but we’re definitely in a bit of a deep hole right now,” Dixon said Friday. “It simplifies things. You don’t have to race for points. You don’t have to race for any scenario apart from going out there and winning.”

Dixon has only one podium finish this season and is eighth in the standings, 140 points behind leader Helio Castroneves. The title race is still wide open, with no driver maintaining the kind of consistency that makes him the favorite.

“It’s kind of a strange championship,” Dixon said. “It looks like no one is trying to win it at this point, but I think it will turn around. You’ll get some sense of somebody starting to get on a roll as we go through this weekend and definitely onto the next one.”

Dixon has reason to feel optimistic about his own chances. He started 15th but moved up to finish fifth at Pocono on July 6. He started from the pole for the first time this season at Iowa and stayed in contention until settling for fourth in a tense finish behind teammate Tony Kanaan.

Dixon rebounded from brake issues in the first practice Friday to post the third best time in the second.

Josef Newgarden had the fastest time in Friday morning’s practice and Simon Pagenaud topped the chart in the second practice for the last doubleheader weekend on the schedule.

IndyCar officials will hold qualifying before each weekend race. They will use standing starts for today’s race.

“The car system that we have, it’s not really built for standing starts,” Dixon said. “But I think everybody’s found a good compromise and the standing starts of recent I think have been pretty good.”

Dixon started strong this season with a fourth-place finish at St. Petersburg, Fla., but was 12th the following race at Long Beach. Dixon came close to the podium at Detroit and Texas.

Nationwide

Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson hope to learn something about Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., this weekend.

Kahne and Larson, regulars in the Sprint Cup series, are driving in tonight’s Nationwide Series race on the last off weekend for NASCAR’S top series this season. No other notables from the Cup circuit are on hand, even though the Chase begins at Chicagoland on Sept. 14.