Scott Dixon wins fifth championship at IndyCar finale

At 38 years old and with 18 IndyCar/CART seasons under his belt, you would expect Scott Dixon to be slowing down. In fact, the opposite is happening—on Sept. 16, Dixon took home his fifth drivers’ championship with a second place finish at the Grand Prix of Sonoma.

The race, held at Sonoma Raceway in California, saw Dixon battle it out with title challenger Alexander Rossi for the honor of donning the number one next season. Rossi, who was 29 points behind Dixon in the championship, went into the race with work to do, qualifying four places down on Dixon in sixth. Veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay, though out of the championship picture, started from pole position. Penske drivers Josef Newgarden, the defending champ, and Will Power had an outside shot to swipe the title, starting third and seventh respectively.

There was drama immediately after the green flag was waved, with Rossi bumping the back of teammate Marco Andretti’s car, which broke his front wing and punctured his front right tire. Rossi limped back to the pits, his chances for his first drivers’ title now in jeopardy.

Now down in 25th place, Rossi knew he needed to make an incredible charge to even have a fighting chance against Dixon. He pushed hard, making an excellent pass on Newgarden into the Turn 5 hairpin and battled up to finish seventh. Newgarden’s race had been unraveling since he stalled the car leaving his first pit stop—he finished a disappointing eighth. Power ran a solid race to take a podium. But Dixon’s smart, conservative race led him to a second place finish behind polesitter Hunter-Reay, securing the championship.

With his fifth title, Dixon has entered the ranks of all-time greats—he now stands just two championships behind legend A.J. Foyt. He also moved ahead of Mario Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais, and Dario Franchitti, all with four championships.

Dixon had a strong season, with three wins and six other podiums, along with one pole position. Rossi was a strong competitor—he also had three wins and six separate podiums, but captured three poles. However, he finished outside of the top five seven times, losing ground to Dixon who only did four times.

Dixon’s championship celebrations outshone a commanding win by Hunter-Reay, who led the most laps as he cruised confidently to convert pole to a race win. Power’s third place in the race secured him third in the championship, with Hunter-Reay one place behind. Newgarden’s dispiriting day gave him fifth overall.

Fans also got to see the highly touted Patricio O’Ward in IndyCar machinery for the first time. Having already won the Indy Lights feeder series this year, O’Ward was ready to step up to the top level. He did quite well, despite struggling with tires in the early stages, and finished ninth.

The 2019 IndyCar season will kick off with Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10, and will run for 17 races. The series will visit the Circuit of the Americas, home to Formula One’s United States Grand Prix, for the first time on March 24, and will return to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the finale on Sept. 22. Tune back in to watch Dixon defend his title.