Kiwi Scott Dixon starting from sixth in Sonoma in chase for IndyCar crown

  • 17/09/2017
Dixon can secure the 2017 title with a win at Sonoma.
Dixon can secure the 2017 title with a win at Sonoma. Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand driver Scott Dixon is relaxed despite finding himself behind his leading rivals on the grid for the deciding race in the IndyCar series.

Dixon will win a fifth series crown if victorious in the closing event in Sonoma, California on Monday (NZT).

However, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver will need to do it from sixth on the grid and see off a challenge from four Team Penske drivers still all mathematically in contention.

At the head of that list is series-leading American Josef Newgarden, who broke the track record three times in qualifying to claim pole position.

Newgarden, chasing a maiden series title, picked up a point for his qualifying efforts to sit four in front of second-ranked Dixon heading into the double-points race.

Behind Newgarden on the grid are three team-mates, in order: Australian Will Power, Frenchman Simon Pagenaud and Brazilian Helio Castroneves.

All could claim overall honours if results fall their way.

Dixon was wary of his car's speed limitations but he has a good history at the race and believes strategy will play an important role.

"The Penske group are fast here, and it's exactly what we expect, but the race is going to be interesting," Dixon said.

"We can definitely make it work."

Dixon's most recent title in 2015 ended with a victory at Sonoma after starting ninth on the grid. He tied with Juan Pablo Montoya in the standings and won the championship on a tie-breaker.

That result was in the mind of Team Penske owner, Roger Penske.

"I think Scott Dixon is one of the very best out here, and I respect him and the team.

"But Josef's got a great opportunity, and we've got three other guys that can win this thing."

One more series title would lift Dixon, 37, to outright second on the all-time list behind seven-time champion AJ Foyt of the United States.