(SONOMA, CA) Seventeen-season IndyCar veteran Scott Dixon reached a historical achievement Sunday as he collected his fifth series championship following his runner-up finish at the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma.
His Astor Cup benchmark tied a similar career milestone charted by legendary driver A.J. Foyt. Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) entered the race 29 points in front of the hard-charging Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport) in the series standings.
The 85-lap challenge for the Verizon IndyCar Series, the final event of the 17-race docket, was dominated by pole-sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport), who led 80 laps of the feature en route to his second set of checkered flags for the season.
Dixon’s steady stead for the afternoon, accentuated by an opening-lap miscue by Rossi, resulted in his 57-point cushion for the series’ triumph that snared a $1 Million prize for #9 PNC Bank entry.
“Yeah, it’s amazing to be in this situation, fifth championship,” Dixon told IndyCar.com afterwards. “What we’ve achieved, 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.”
“He’s the guy on the track, off the track,” Ganassi said of Dixon to IndyCar.com. “If you take a piece of stone, inject some brains into it, chisel it out, it’s Scott Dixon. He’s just the man.”
Rossi was aiming to unseat the points leader on Sunday for the potential of a first-ever title but the front of his car clipped teammate Marco Andretti’s left-rear tire on the opening lap. As a result, he plummeted to 24th in the 25-car line-up. He eventually finished seventh but the damage had already been done.
“It was unfortunate because I thought we got a good start,” Rossi said to IndyCar.com. “At the end of the day, our 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. I just tried to attack it, move up as many positions as we could.”
Hunter-Reay won the race by over two seconds to Dixon and finished fourth in series points.
“It was nice to go from pole (to) win, lead the most laps, the whole thing,” Hunter-Reay said to IndyCar.com. “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.”