SONOMA, Calif. – Scott Dixon was absolutely reclined, quietly watching NASCAR on tv with associates, because the clock inched towards the IndyCar season finale. A fifth championship was one regular Sunday drive away and Dixon wasn’t in the slightest degree pressured.
Dixon wanted solely an uneventful Sunday at Sonoma Raceway to win the championship and sealed it by ending second, the identical place he began, behind Ryan Hunter-Reay. The fifth title moved him into second in IndyCar historical past, two behind A.J. Foyt.
“I am unable to consider that is truly occurring,” Dixon mentioned. “You at all times doubt these conditions and assume they’re by no means going to occur. It is all in regards to the folks and I am the fortunate one which will get to take it throughout the road.”
The 38-year-old New Zealander additionally gained titles in 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015, all with Chip Ganassi Racing. He is the longest tenured driver in Ganassi historical past and helped the staff proprietor cap a powerful organizational weekend through which Ross Chastain gained NASCAR’s Xfinity Collection race, Kyle Larson completed second in NASCAR’s opening playoff race and Dixon gave him a 12th IndyCar championship.
“What an unbelievable trip it has been with this man,” mentioned Ganassi, who celebrated the title the identical manner he did in 2015, by diving from the championship stage into the group assembled under.
Dixon’s process was eased when challenger Alexander Rossi hit teammate Marco Andretti seconds after the beginning and broke his entrance wing. Rossi needed to pit for a brand new half, dropped to final within the discipline, and the championship was just about determined.
Dixon held a 29-point lead over Rossi initially of the day, and regardless that the race was price double factors, Rossi wanted to be good to catch “The Iceman.” Dixon’s closing factors margin was 57 factors over Rossi, who rallied to complete seventh. Rossi ended his third season in IndyCar second within the standings.
“It was going to be a tricky day to beat Scott anyway,” Rossi mentioned. “It is unlucky to exit like that. I want I may replay that one million extra occasions. We’ve got to take a look at 2018 and be fairly proud of it, regardless that we go away second and the primary loser.”
As relaxed as Dixon seemed to be all day, he admitted after the race he did not let up within the race automotive after Rossi’s mishap. The title wasn’t safe, he mentioned, till he made it by way of the ultimate spherical of pit stops cleanly.
“You simply by no means know, something can occur,” Dixon mentioned. “We had numerous grit. Rossi did a hell of a job, he is been pushing so arduous this yr and he’ll be a star.”
Hunter-Reay gained for the 18th time and second this season.
“To finish this manner is unreal,” mentioned Hunter-Reay, who devoted the win to injured IndyCar driver Robert Wickens. “We want he was right here, he would have made my life much more tough on the monitor right this moment.”
Hunter-Reay additionally praised Dixon as the best driver of this IndyCar era.
“It is unthinkable what he is completed,” Hunter-Reay mentioned. “To share the monitor with him is superior and to beat him is, too.”
Will Energy and Simon Pagenaud completed third and fourth for Staff Penske, which picked up its 500th organizational win earlier Sunday when Brad Keselowski gained NASCAR’s opening playoff race in Las Vegas. Roger Penske watched these closing laps from atop Energy’s timing stand as the top of NASCAR overlapped the beginning of IndyCar. Penske pumped his fist within the air a number of occasions after the Keselowski win.
Energy’s end gave the Indianapolis 500 winner third place within the championship standings.