Josef Newgarden: I control my own championship destiny
Team Penske's Josef Newgarden heads into the title-deciding final race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar season believing he is in control of his own championship destiny.
Newgarden has led the 2019 season for all but one race and now heads to the double-points finale in Laguna Seca with a 41 point lead in the standings.
Behind him are Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi with Penske team-mate Simon Pagenaud a further point behind and Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon a vast 85 points back, making him very much the outsider.
A second series title, adding to his win in 2017, will be his should he finish inside the top-six, any lower and he would need Rossi and Pagenaud not to win the race to keep his hopes alive.
"The positive thing is I do feel like we control our own destiny," said Newgarden. "That for sure is the case, which is why it's the favourable position. If you'd asked me if I'd rather be 41 points or 41 points down, you're always going to choose being 41 points up. It's just a much better place to be.
"But having said that, with the double-point situation it still has to go extremely well because of the way it changes the nature of the finishing positions and the points payouts. We'll just have to see how we get on next week.
"I feel like we have the right people in our corner. We just need to make sure that we go and execute now."
Despite feeling in control of the championship situation, Newgarden is not comfortable with points gap to his rivals and the permutations required to win his second title.
The tension is also raised as the series is heading to a circuit which only four of the current drivers have raced on in IndyCar.
"We definitely have a little bit of comfort, but nothing that you can feel too comfortable about," he added. I mean, it's difficult to run in the top five in the IndyCar Series week in and week out.
"To come to a kind of a wild card event out at Laguna Seca where we don't have a lot of knowledge, we specifically, I don't have a lot of knowledge with the track.
"I think a lot of guys going in that have never raced there, they don't either. It's going to create a lot of unknowns.
"I think it's still a difficult task for us to make sure we hit everything right and have a solid weekend."