IndyCar driver Scott Dixon has arrived in Fontana, California, this weekend for the final round of the 2014 IRL championship ruing a "crap" start to the season.
Despite a recent run of results that has seen the Kiwi finish inside the top 10 in his last 10 races, and finish in the top five in six of the last seven races, Dixon is only fifth on the point's table.
The defending champion knows he's not going to win his fourth title but is coveting Helio Castroneves' second spot. Series leader Will Power has a comfortable 103-point lead over Dixon, but Castroneves is within reach just 52 points ahead and Fontana is worth double points - 104 in all.
"It's been pretty good the last couple of races [claiming two wins], especially on the road courses, but we don't have the outright speed Power has," Dixon said.
"It's been a frustrating season and probably the worst we've had in a while.
It's always easy to sit in the backseat and say, 'if only we'd done this, or done that ya, ya, ya' but, straight up, we just didn't start the season as well as we should have.
"There will be a big push during the off-season to get the development going a little smoother and we get new aero kits so that will probably help. It's a bit of a pain this season but it's great to end on a high note.
"Getting into third this weekend should be pretty easy and getting second is possible. If we win and Helio gets eighth, we finish second in the championship, which is not bad considering where we were at one stage and what a shit year it's been."
It has been a fraught year for the team, what with a change to Chevy power from Honda, a new team-mate in Tony Kanaan after Dario Franchitti retired, a change from BMW to Ford engines in the sportscar team and the addition of new driver Ryan Briscoe.
"Scott's been in the hunt for a championship for most of the time he's been in the series and everyone knows to win a championship you have to go through him to do it," said Franchitti, who has four IRL titles and three Indianapolis 500 wins, earlier this year. "He's a tough competitor."
It's this toughness and the nickname The Iceman that has made Dixon one of the most respected and feared competitors on track. He'll never give up and works on the principle that, if you put yourself in the best possible position with what you've got on any given day, you might just be there to pick up the pieces when others mess up.
"I don't know what Power and Castroneves were doing [at the last race in Sonoma]," Dixon said. "I can't believe what he did [spun] and Helio did the same thing. Man, I don't know why those guys just don't chill - thank God for Penske. They're racing themselves for the championship.