This weekend IndyCar will thunder into Sonoma, CA for the 2017 Season Finale. The championship winner will be decided at this race in what has turned into one of the most competitive seasons the series has seen in years. This year, seven competitors have a mathematical chance to win the championship. That is one of the highest numbers in recent history. That fact speaks to the competitive nature of the IndyCar series and the great racing the series has produced this year. The leader of the pack, however, is Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden. Newgarden has won four races this year and is focused on winning his first championship.

Six other drivers may have something to say about that though, as they head into the final race of the season.

A look at the top five contenders

It goes without saying that the top five contenders for the IndyCar championship are also some of the series' fiercest competitors. They represent the cream of the crop in the series and make the final race of the series all that more exciting because of it. The point leader, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, is going for his first title. He has had his best season to date, winning four races over the entirety of the 2017 season. Behind him sits Chip Ganassi Racing’s driver Scott Dixon. Dixon is only three points behind Newgarden and eager to win his fourth title.

Dixon has expressed frustration at not winning more races this season, but regardless is as close as he could hope to be in the fight for the championship.

While the top two contenders are so close air couldn’t pass between them, the next three are still within striking range. Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves is in third place, only 22 points behind his teammate and friend.

Castroneves is very aware of the importance of a championship to Team Penske and has always done his best to bring success to the team. Castroneves has won three Indy 500s and 30 races in his time with The Captain, as Roger Penske is known. Yet, despite their successes, CastroNeves has never won a championship title. He is hoping that now is his time.

The third Team Penske driver in the mix also happens to be the championship title defender, Simon Pagenaud. Simon is a mere 34 points behind the leader and would like to retain his title if he can. Team Penske rounds out the top five with driver Will Power, who is also a former champion and hoping to be the Penske driver that brings the championship home to the team. All of the drivers, given the right circumstances, stand a chance at becoming the 2017 IndyCar champion and all of them will be driving as hard as they can to make that happen.

The benefit of coming down to the last race to decide the championship

In recent times many series, including Formula 1 and NASCAR, have come under fire for having seasons that are remarkably predictable.

In Formula 1, this is the first season in some time that anyone has challenged the dominance of Mercedes and for NASCAR the new point system has served to bring back short track racing, even on the superspeedways. The fact that the IndyCar championship has come down to the last race of the season speaks volumes for the series. Moreover, the fact that the top seven drivers could still possibly win the championship speaks even more highly for the series.

The softly rolling hills of Sonoma, CA are usually home to quiet, peaceful vineyards. This weekend, however, the same gentle hills will reverberate with the sound of IndyCar engines. As the series enters the last racing weekend of 2017, the competition to win the championship is as close as it has ever been in the history of the sport.

IndyCar has created a model of racing that actually entails real racing with unpredictable, exciting outcomes. The 2017 IndyCar championship is up for grabs and will be decided with the throwing of the checkered flag and fans couldn’t be happier.