LOS ANGELES -- When Scott Dixon stood next to the Astor Cup on a stage in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, he was still a bit surprised to be so close to IndyCars championship trophy heading into the season finale. Just two weeks ago, Dixon needed an enormous amount of help to take control of the overall IndyCar race. Helio Castroneves gave it to him with a broken gearbox during a wild doubleheader in Houston, allowing Dixon to head for California with his third series title in sight. "Its been such an up-and-down season for us that its kind of hard to believe were here," said Dixon, the series champion in 2003 and 2008. "We started so poorly, but we managed to find some redemption at midseason and got back in the hunt. And then Houston happened, and now were here. Its been a wild ride." Indeed, Dixon hadnt been on top of the overall standings all season long until he left Houston with the lead. The last time Dixon led the championship was back in 2009, with one race to go -- and Dario Franchitti sped past him to claim the title. Thats why Dixon isnt cocky about his chances in IndyCars season finale at Fontana on Saturday night. "Its very easy to jinx yourself," Dixon said. "I think maybe you start thinking its a given, and you get too complacent. Everybody knows its not over. If were leading at the end of this race, then job accomplished, but we could still very well lose it." The New Zealander realizes he only needs a fifth-place finish to stay ahead of Castroneves for the overall title, but he wont change tactics just to stay safe. He expects a dynamic race on the long oval east of Los Angeles -- but hopefully without the pyrotechnics of the Houston doubleheader, which ended with teammate Franchitti in a hospital with two broken vertebrae, a broken ankle and a concussion. Castroneves had led the overall standings for 14 of the 18 races this season, and the Brazilian had a 49-point lead in the overall standings heading to Houston. But mechanical failures in both races left him 25 points behind Dixon, who won the first race of the doubleheader and finished second in the second race. Despite the horrific results in Houston, Castroneves hasnt lost his usual chipper demeanour -- or given up hope for a dramatic comeback. Hes the only racer who could mathematically catch Dixon for the title. "The reason Im not mad is because its not over," Castroneves said. "We have a chance. Some things happened in Houston that youd never expect. Breaking the gearbox? No way to predict something like that could happen." Roger Penske said his team "fell on our face" in Houston, a failure that could leave Penske just short of the title for the sixth time since 2006. "In our case, with the scenario, its pretty simple," Penske Racing President Tim Cindric said. "Winning is really the only thing at the end of the day, and then you still have to hope." Dixon was among the first people to realize Castroneves championship hopes were in trouble during that second race in Houston: Oil from Castroneves gearbox doused Dixons car from the second or third lap onward, and Dixon screamed about it into his radio. Even when Castroneves was forced to stop, Dixon got no enjoyment from Castroneves woes. "Youre thinking, If its happening to him, it could very well happen to us as well," Dixon said, realizing Castroneves problems probably were caused by contact with a bump on Turn 1 in Houston. "Youve had so many situations where you think its great, and then five laps later, you have a problem yourself. Its very easy to get ahead of yourself and lose focus." Both Castroneves and Dixon are changing engines for the Fontana race, a common tactic on an oval track that makes the resulting speed more important than the 10-spot penalty on the starting grid for making a switch. Castroneves had easily the fastest race car at the Fontana test last month, and hes counting on that speed to give him a shot at the title. Dixon also will have a new teammate as he goes for the Cup: Alex Tagliani is the temporary replacement for Franchitti with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. "Its going to come down to the last lap, the last corner, probably," Dixon said. "Were going to have to dig deep. Im just excited to be a part of it."
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. On Saturday night, Winnipegs strong offense was again accompanied by some fantastic pitching which gave the Fish a commanding victory.
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. Bobrovsky posted a 2-0-1 record with a 1.58 goals-against average and .950 save percentage to help the Blue Jackets (35-26-6) gain five of a possible six points last week. He capped the week by making 32 saves and stopping 2-of-4 shootout attempts in a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.Gareth Bale praised Zinedine Zidanes impact since taking over at the Bernabeu following Real Madrids progression to the Champions League final on Wednesday night. Real beat Manchester City 1-0 in their Champions League semi-final second-leg tie to set up a meeting against Atletico Madrid at San Siro on May 28, with Bale playing a key role in Los Blancos winner in the Spanish capital. Bale celebrates after Real opened the scoring against Man City The Wales international was keen to highlight his managers contribution to the home teams victory, exactly four months since Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez in the Madrid dugout. Hes given us that belief and freedom to go out and express ourselves and enjoy ourselves, Bale told UEFAs official website.When players can do that you see the best of them. Bale disagreed with Manuel Pellegrinis comments that Real Madrid were lucky to progress However, Bale admitted the 20th-minute goal that finally separated the two sides was slightly fortunate, with the forwards centre taking a crucial deflection off Fernando on its way past City goalkeeper Joe Hart.I went to cross, but obviously it doesnt matter however the bball goes in the back of the net, he said.dddddddddddd Were very happy and the most important thing is were in the final.Were very excited to get to the final. Were going to enjoy this result. It was a very difficult two-legged game against Manchester City. Hes given us that belief and freedom to go out and express ourselves and enjoy ourselves. Gareth Bale on Zidane But were very happy that we kept two clean sheets and nicked a goal to get into the final. It was a very professional performance. Weve really worked together as a team and that showed again tonight.Bale, meanwhile, was delighted with his own display against City as he carried on his impressive form of late that has seen him score four times in his last five games in all competitions for Real.I enjoy taking responsibility on the pitch, he said. Hopefully I can keep doing it, keep improving and putting in good performances. Bales cross deflects off City midfielder Fernando in the decisive moment of Wednesdays Champions League semi-final Bale, though, knows just what a tough encounter now awaits him and his team-mates against Atleti, the second time the two city rivals have faced each other in the Champions League final in the space of just three years.We know that come the final its going to be a very difficult, very cagey game again, he said.We know how they play, we know what theyre like, he added. Its going to be a difficult game, but were confident we can win. Watch live coverage of Real Madrid