Dixon's IndyCar title bid falls short

Author
AAP,
Section
Sport,
Publish Date
Monday, 18 September 2017, 2:16PM
Scott Dixon has finished third in the IndyCar series
Scott Dixon has finished third in the IndyCar series

A philosophical Scott Dixon has finished third in the IndyCar series after falling short in his bid for a fifth title at the season finale in California.

Accomplished Kiwi driver Dixon crossed the line fourth at the Grand Prix of Sonoma, allowing second-placed American Josef Newgarden to claim a maiden series crown.

Series defending champion Simon Pagenaud of France took the chequered flag on Monday (NZT) to climb to second overall, heading off Dixon who endured a difficult afternoon.

His Chip Ganassi Racing car spent a processional race trailing in the wake of his leading rivals, all from Team Penske.

Any chances of making headway were blocked by team tactics which frustrated the 37-year-old, who acknowledged the odds were stacked against him when he lined up sixth on the grid.

Brazilian Helio Castroneves proved virtually unpassable, giving Dixon no access to attack 26-year-old Newgarden, who started on pole position and was first or second throughout the 85 laps.

When Dixon saw off Castroneves, he had no time to threaten Newgarden, Australian Will Power and Pagenaud, whose win was set up by making an extra pit stop to his rivals, keeping his tyres fresher.

"I don't know, it just seemed like the three of them just covered us," Dixon said.

"Whenever we pitted short, they just pitted with us. And Helio was kind of a massive road block.

"Once we got clear track, we were able to hunt them down but all day, as soon as we got in traffic, the car just got really loose."

Dixon began the day hoping to repeat a miraculous title charge in 2015, when he won in Sonoma from ninth on the grid to clinch a fourth title.

His performance was typical of a season based around consistency.

While Newgarden won four races, the Kiwi managed just one victory, at the Kohler Grand Prix in Wisconsin.

Dixon's biggest headlines were saved for the Indy 500 in May when his spectacular crash involved some serious high-speed air time.

That incident came days after being held up at gunpoint at a fast food outlet in Indianapolis, hours after having claimed pole position.

Overall, he was satisfied with a season in which new Honda engines were introduced to his car.

"We had good speed but should have won quite a few races. We crashed out of a few as well and they are all valuable points," he said.

"As a group we learned a lot this season. Going back to Honda the team made some good gains, we're looking forward to next season."

Final standings: Josef Newgarden (USA) 642 points 1, Simon Pagenaud (France) 629 2, Scott Dixon (NZ) 621 3, Helio Castroneves (Brazil) 598 4, Will Power (Australia) 562 5, Graham Rahal (USA) 522 6.

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