Motorsport: Scott Dixon cuts IndyCar championship lead at Grand Prix of St Petersburg, Scott McLaughlin misses top 10

Kiwi Scott Dixon has closed within two points of the IndyCar Championship lead, after the second race of the new season, finishing fifth at the Grand Prix of St Petersburg in Florida.

The six-time champion fifth, after a poor qualifying display placed him eighth on the starting grid.

American Colton Herta claimed victory on the St Petersburg street circuit, qualifying in pole position and maintaining his advantage through the entire race to take the chequered flag.

But with the winner of last week's opening race - Spain's Alex Palou - finishing 17th, the gap at the top of the championship has closed dramatically.

Enough for 14 points, Palou's finish sees him remain atop the standings with 67 points, but teammate Dixon and Australian Will Power are both in hot pursuit with 65 points in joint second.

Elsewhere, fellow Kiwi and IndyCar rookie Scott McLaughlin also enjoyed a rise up the grid, after a disappointing qualifying effort.

Starting in 14th, McLaughlin looked odds-on for a top-10 finish, but had to settle for 11th and 19 championship points for his Team Penske outfit.

But the reigning V8 Supercars champion impressed, finishing ahead of ex-Formula One driver and fellow IndyCar rookie Romain Grosjean.

After his first two IndyCar outings of the season, McLaughlin sits 15th in the championship standings.

Dixon and McLaughlin are both in action again in IndyCar's third race of the season - the Genesys 300, in Texas on May 1-2.