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Dixon third as Newgarden takes IndyCar crown

19 September, 2017, 00:54 | Author: Joan Malone
  • Australian Indy Car driver Will Power has claimed third place at the Grand Prix of Sonoma

"Right now I want to celebrate Josef's championship".

"At that point, I felt comfortable", he said.

The 26-year-old from Hendersonville became the first American driver in five years to win the Verizon IndyCar championship.

Simon Pagenaud won the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to conclude the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, while Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden finished second to wrap up the championship.

Pagenaud and Newgarden, Team Penske teammates, finished first and second, respectively. Dixon, who has won four IndyCar titles (the last in 2015), couldn't overcome starting a poor starting position - sixth in the grid - and moved only two spots up to finish fourth behind Pagenaud.

Power won the 2014 championship and Pagenaud won the 2016 championship. Pagenaud opted for a four-stop strategy to Newgarden's three pit stops, but the Frenchman made up the time by running faster laps on open track.

Newgarden tried to catch him, was briefly aggressive as he attempted to reclaim the lead, then had to back off and think about the bigger picture. "I was using my natural instincts because that is what I normally do - try and win the race - but Tim was telling me to be patient".

"He was on cold tires and was weak prey, but it became harder to get by as we progressed and his tires warmed", said Newgarden. I tried to get him but didn't want to do anything bad for the team. Surprisingly, Newgarden didn't use any push-to-pass boost, but he still made a strong challenge to the Frenchman into Turn 7 that almost resulted in contact between the two Penske entries. I don't even know what to say - it was all year. "I feel like I am part of it".

It is rumoured that fellow Kiwi Brendon Hartley will join Dixon at Chip Ganassi Racing in 2018. The order in the standings was Dixon in third followed by Castroneves and Power.

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"It was a strong season - obviously not where we wanted to finish in the championship", he said. "It was circumstance. Once we got clear track, we were able to hunt them down".

And with about 15 laps to go, Newgarden realized his dream was about to come true. Chevrolet drivers have won every championship but one since the engine-supplier returned to IndyCar in 2012, and the brand has beaten Honda every year for the manufacturer championship. But Team Penske teammate and defending IndyCar Series. The organization has 30 championships in various forms of motorsports. It's a huge team effort at Team Penske.

For Newgarden, it completes a rapid ascension to the top of the series.

Post-race, the 37-year old Aucklander reflected on a challenging season.

But, he had appeared to have coughed the championship away two weeks ago when he crashed exiting pit road at Watkins Glen. Dixon is four points behind polesitter Newgarden in the championship chase.

Only Penske, with the four chances at the title, arrived in Sonoma completely dialed in and its four cars were the class of the field all weekend.

"I'll carry the flag happily", Newgarden said.

If he was rattled by Dixon, or anyone else, he never let it show.

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