Motorsport: Scott Dixon claims sixth IndyCar title with third place finish in series finale

Kiwi Scott Dixon has driven a near-flawless 100 laps to claim his sixth IndyCar Series tile with a third-place finish in the season finale at St Petersburg, Florida. 

Championship rival Josef Newgarden drove just as superbly, taking the chequered flag first in a race full of carnage and tension.

Starting 11th, the Dixon never allowed Newgarden out of his sight, mirroring the American's race strategy to avoid any potential safety-car miscues.

The two slowly worked their way through the field, with early pacesetters running into problems throughout the race.

Pole-sitter Will Power crashed out early after a gear issue, while Alex Rossi, Bryan Herta and James Hinchcliffe all led at times, before costly mistakes scrubbed them out.

Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin drove well after qualifying 21st, until he made contact with Marco Andretti at a restart on lap 47 to end his day, while running 16th.

But Newgarden and Dixon continued to avoid incidents, and at the final restart with 19 laps left, they found themselves first and third, where they would remain. 

Dixon's podium finish was more than enough to clinch his sixth title and edge closer to the great AJ Foyt's record of seven. 

Newgarden finished second in the championship, 16 points behind the Kiwi, with Herta in third.

“Six is good, seven sounds better - that's obviously got to be the goal,” Dixon says, as he contemplates history in 2021.

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

#9 Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Practice and Qualifying for the Streets of St. Petersburg Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Florida, USA on Friday 24th October 2020.
Final round of the 2020 NTT INDYCAR championship.
Copyright photo: LAT Images / www.photosport.nz
Photo credit: Photosport
Scott Dixon lifts his trophy
Scott Dixon lifts his trophy Photo credit: Photosport

Meanwhile, McLaughlin was fizzing after his first 47 laps as an IndyCar driver. With a full season ahead of him in 2021, the Kiwi is clearly stoked to be a part of the open-wheel category.

“It was awesome... far out, best day of my life, bar my wedding,” McLaughlin says.

“The Shell V-Power Nitro+ IndyCar was going well and then I just tried to make a move, I tried to block Marco [Andretti].

“I felt like I was there or thereabouts, and just had half a rear-lock, I’m not exactly sure. Cold tyres caught me out a little bit.

“Pretty disappointed, but I had a lot of fun today.”