Scott Dixon Wins Fifth Verizon IndyCar Series Championship At Sonoma Racewayby Benjamin Sanders September 17, 2018 0 comments
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won his fifth Verizon IndyCar Series championship on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.
The Verizon IndyCar Series season culminated in California wine country at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday afternoon with the championship, once again, up for grabs at the end of 85 laps. The Sonoma IndyCar Grand Prix was filled with drama and strategy as drivers vie for track position on the tight and twisty IndyCar layout. The drivers in the title fight were Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Will Power and Josef Newgarden.
Dixon won a record-tying fifth title, equal with A.J. Foyt, by finishing second and showing resilience after a difficult Portland weekend. Dixon, humble as ever, recognized his team’s effort and fortitude throughout not only this championship, but the prior four.
“The whole race I was thinking about things that were out of our control, cautions that were going to flip the field,” Dixon said. “It was a very smooth race, but mentally it was tough and draining. Yeah, it’s amazing to be in this situation, fifth championship. What this team has achieved, I’m a very small piece in that whole wheelhouse of what’s going on at Chip Ganassi Racing. I feel very lucky to work with the people that I do.”
The drama started at the drop of the green flag where Rossi drove into the rear of teammate, Marco Andretti in Turn 1. The Californian’s grit and determination once again were on display to get his lap back but was ultimately not enough. Rossi was disappointed in missing out on the championship but content with his season and by winning on three different styles of tracks.
“At the end of the day, the 27 NAPA team did an amazing job of getting us back to a point where we could at least be in contention if something did happen to Scott,” Rossi said. “I knew it was probably a one percent shot at getting anything done at the end of the day. I just tried to attack it, move up as many positions as we could. It’s a situation I’m sure we’ll all replay a lot of times but, at the end of the day, it’s been a good 2018 and I am very appreciative for all the support we’ve had this year. We came pretty close and we’ll work on the things we need to be better on and come back stronger next year. Dixon’s the benchmark. He’s the five-time champion for a reason so he deserves it 100 percent and we’ll work very hard to come back and try to beat him next year.”
Lost in all of this was Ryan Hunter-Reay, claiming the victory from pole. The victory marked his 18th career open-wheel win.
“It was nice to go from pole (to) win, lead the most laps, the whole thing,” Hunter-Reay said. “That’s an ideal race. May not be the most exciting thing for the fans at times, but from a race car driver’s point of view, team owner, race team, it’s the ideal race. Felt like the race just didn’t want to end. I guess that’s what happens when you spend the whole day out front. Any time I needed the pace to put it down, we leapt out to a lead (and) I was able to maintain that.”
The 2012 champion dedicated his win to friend and rival Robert Wickens, who posted an update on his health from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis on Sunday.
“Also, a big shout out to Robbie Wickens – I want to dedicate that win to him and his fight,” Hunter-Reay said. “It was great to see the video message from him today and, hopefully, he will be back with us as soon as possible.”
In addition, newly crowned Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion, Patricio O’Ward made his IndyCar debut, qualifying fifth and finishing ninth in a second car for Harding Racing.
“It was a really great weekend, we learned a lot,” O’Ward said. “We qualified the car fifth and we ended the race ninth. As a driver, you want to stay in your qualifying position or get better. But I think for a first try, especially with a super long race with three or four pit stops that was a job well done. I’m really satisfied, and I just want to get better for next year.”
This was a fitting finale and farewell to Sonoma Raceway for the IndyCar Series as it will be replaced by Weathertech Laguna Seca next season. Also, series sponsor Verizon is leaving as seasons end after a fruitful relationship with the Indianapolis-based series. The 2019 season starts in March on the street of St. Petersburg, Florida, and it is expected to be a compelling silly season until then.
Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski/Verizon IndyCar Series
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