Otago Daily Times

Dixon eyes record­equalling sev­enth ti­tle

MOTORSPORT

- RECORD FOR HAMIL­TON Sports · St. Petersburg, FL · Florida · Team Penske · Wellington · A. J. Foyt

WELLING­TON: Scott Dixon has won his sixth IndyCar cham­pi­onship, one shy of the all­time record.

Dixon (40) fin­ished third at the sea­son­end­ing Grand Prix of St Peters­burg in Florida yes­ter­day to fin­ish 16 points clear of cham­pi­onship ri­val Josef New­gar­den, who won the fi­nal race.

The New Zealan­der knew he had to fin­ish ninth or bet­ter to seal the se­ries ti­tle.

‘‘I never doubted it, never doubted it, not with you guys,’’ Dixon said shortly af­ter cross­ing the fin­ish line.

‘‘What a team! Thank you all so much boys and girls — ev­ery­body. Well done, well done.’’

His sixth cham­pi­onship was built on his fast start to the sea­son.

He won the first three races of the year and won again in race eight, but then fell short of the podium in the next five races be­fore yes­ter­day.

New­gar­den had whit­tled down Dixon's cham­pi­onship lead from 117 points to send the cham­pi­onship to a fi­nale.

‘‘I seemed to sleep fine. I don't know what ev­ery­one was wor­ried about,’’ Dixon joked.

‘‘It def­i­nitely got pretty close there. Credit to Josef and Team Penske. They drove the last part of the sea­son flaw­lessly and so many points so it was pretty awe­some to race them again.’’

It is Dixon's sec­ond cham­pi­onship in three years to go with the ti­tles he won in 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015.

His six ti­tles are one shy of the Amer­i­can open­wheel record held by AJ Foyt.

‘‘Six is good, seven sounds bet­ter. That's ob­vi­ously go­ing to be the goal but it's tough.’’

Coun­try­man Scott McLaugh­lin crashed out less than half­way through his IndyCar de­but.

But McLaugh­lin was far from dishearten­ed with the ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘It was awe­some. Far out. It was the best day of my life apart from my wed­ding.’’

Speak­ing about the crash, he added: ‘‘It was go­ing re­ally well and I tried to block Marco, and I thought I was there or there­abouts but had half a rear­lock.

‘‘The cold tyres put me off a bit. I'm re­ally dis­ap­pointed but I had a lot of fun to­day.’’

New­gar­den tied Dixon with his se­ries­best fourth win of the sea­son but was in too big a hole af­ter Dixon’s open­ing to the ab­bre­vi­ated and dis­rupted sched­ule.

The Ten­nesseean went to vic­tory lane to con­grat­u­late his ri­val.

‘‘We weren't good enough,’’ New­gar­den said.

‘‘We'll re­set, we'll hit them harder next year and I prom­ise you, we will be in the fight.’’

The sea­son that was sup­posed to be­gin seven months ago on the same St Peters­burg streets be­fore it was abruptly can­celled at last came to a close in front of a sold­out 20,000 spec­ta­tors. — RNZ

pan­demic

 ?? PHOTO: USA TO­DAY ?? Fam­ily af­fair . . . New Zealan­der Scott Dixon is con­grat­u­lated by wife Emma (right) and daugh­ters Poppy and Tilly af­ter win­ning his sixth IndyCar cham­pi­onship thanks to his third in the Grand Prix of St Peters­burg in Florida yes­ter­day.
PHOTO: USA TO­DAY Fam­ily af­fair . . . New Zealan­der Scott Dixon is con­grat­u­lated by wife Emma (right) and daugh­ters Poppy and Tilly af­ter win­ning his sixth IndyCar cham­pi­onship thanks to his third in the Grand Prix of St Peters­burg in Florida yes­ter­day.

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