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Josef Newgarden wins St. Pete, Scott Dixon wins sixth IndyCar championship

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Scott Dixon managed his destiny and wanted merely a easy Sunday drive to win a sixth IndyCar championship.

He was a tactician as he adopted Josef Newgarden across the streets of downtown St. Petersburg. So lengthy as he saved Newgarden in his sight, Dixon would yank the crown away from the American and add one other milestone to his illustrious profession.

Newgarden gained the season finale, utilizing a spectacular, two-car cross for the lead in a valiant effort to win a second consecutive title. Winning was not sufficient, although, to disclaim Dixon his coronation.

Dixon stealthily completed third in a straightforward drive to a different title.

“They simply shadowed us all day. It was the good play,” mentioned Newgarden, who admitted that his shot on the title was so slim that it spoiled his temper the whole weekend.

Dixon was already trying ahead to the following objective: A.J. Foyt’s file seven titles.

“Six is nice. Seven sounds higher,” Dixon said. “That’s clearly going to be the objective. But it is robust, as you may see from the competitors, even if you happen to mess up just a bit bit.

“Just have a easy race, and that is what we did. Credit to Josef. He drove a helluva race there and put us below numerous strain.”

The 40-year-old New Zealander has gained all six of his titles with Chip Ganassi Racing. Dixon has gained two of the previous three championships, a run interrupted final 12 months, when Newgarden gained his second title.

Newgarden tied Dixon together with his series-best fourth win of the season, however Newgarden was in too giant of a gap to catch his rival. Although Dixon at one time led the standings by 117 factors, the ultimate margin was a mere 16 factors over Newgarden.

Dixon constructed his lead with three consecutive wins to open the abbreviated and pandemic-disrupted schedule.

Newgarden, winner of two straight at St. Pete, went to victory lane to congratulate his rival.

“I actually do not know what I’d do completely different this 12 months, and I do not know what I’d ask my guys to do completely different. They had been flawless,” Newgarden said. “We simply weren’t in a position to get it executed, however we’ll reset, and we’ll hit ’em more durable subsequent 12 months. I promise you we’ll be within the combat.”

The season was supposed to start seven months in the past on these similar streets, however it was abruptly canceled 48 hours earlier than the inexperienced flag. It got here to an in depth in entrance of a sold-out 20,000 spectators, the biggest crowd of the season for IndyCar.

Although IndyCar misplaced races in seven cities and had only one road course, Sunday’s finale managed to finish a 14-race season. IndyCar grew to become the primary main motorsports collection to make it to the checkered flag, comparatively unscathed and as steady as potential throughout a pandemic.

Stewardship from first-year collection proprietor Roger Penske bought IndyCar to the end, and Penske introduced his terrible inaugural season full circle with Sunday’s finale. The final hurrah of an honest season was a dramatic, error-prone ender wherein three Andretti Autosport drivers ruined race-winning runs and Newgarden went down swinging.

The race was an Alexander Rossi runaway for the primary 37 laps, after which pole-sitter Will Power crashed for the primary warning. Power, who was in a good race for third within the remaining standings, threw his gloves in anger and admitted to driver error.

“I just lost it. Had a moment,” he mentioned. “I was definitely frustrated there, making a mistake and hitting the wall. It’s my bad. It put us out of the race, and that’s a bad situation.”

The Power crash triggered a collection of three cautions over the following 10 laps, the third on a restart on lap 47, when Scott McLaughlin spun in his IndyCar debut. The New Zealander gained his third consecutive Australian Supercars championship one week in the past, then journeyed to the United States to launch his profession at Team Penske.

McLaughlin’s wreck additionally collected Rinus VeeKay, who nonetheless clinched rookie of the 12 months on the day he was renewed for a second season with Ed Carpenter Racing.

McLaughlin completed 22nd, simply two spots forward of Power in final, however he was thrilled together with his 47-lap expertise.

“Awesome. Far out. The greatest day of my life, apart from my wedding ceremony,” the 27-year-old newlywed declared.

Rossi triggered a tailspin for the Andretti group when he spun on lap 70 spun in marbles whereas racing for the win. Rossi had been decided to increase a streak of not less than one win per season, which dates to 2006, when he was Skip Barber’s youngest champion at 14 years outdated.

His lengthy and irritating season ended with a 21st-place end. “Just misplaced it. It sucks,” Rossi said. “This is the primary time I’ve crashed whereas main.”

It bought even worse roughly 5 minutes later, when Marco Andretti was spun by Takuma Sato whereas racing for the ultimate spot in IndyCar’s bonus program. Andretti, the Indianapolis 500 pole winner, has not introduced a program for 2021, and he was clearly livid as he paced outdoors his automobile after an incident that would have value the race workforce $1 million in bonus cash used towards subsequent 12 months’s finances.

“We had been within the cash, so to say. I feel I simply bought tagged,” he mentioned. “I’ve by no means seen a season like we have had this 12 months, with the misfortunes. Some of it’s luck, and a few of it’s not. The prep for 2021 begins now.”

James Hinchcliffe, in one other Andretti entry that ran within the prime three a lot of the race, then additionally spun below warning.

“In 16 years of racing vehicles, I’ve by no means spun out below warning earlier than. Just my fault,” Hinchcliffe mentioned, noting that he made the spin worse by hitting Andretti-aligned driver Jack Harvey as he reentered the course.

“That’s a good larger black eye,” he mentioned.

The tempo automobile, used at that time over an unusually fast run of cautions and 6 occasions for 26 laps, reported that it was low on gasoline, after which Colton Herta — in one more Andretti automobile — spun after working for the win a lot of the day with Rossi and Hinchcliffe.

He managed to complete third within the remaining IndyCar standings however was aggravated that he did not win the race.

“I think we had a pretty good shot at a win, and I just messed it up,” Herta mentioned.

Newgarden had management however quickly had Pato O’Ward on his nook, on the lookout for the lead. O’Ward could not execute, and Newgarden put area on the challenger by stretching his result in practically a full second with 10 to go.

The exiting champion was in cruise, however all the sooner attrition helped Dixon slip by the sector to 3rd. There was nothing Newgarden may do, even on a day when he did every thing he needed to deny Dixon a sixth championship.

Dixon, thought-about the perfect of his era, ranks third on IndyCar’s all-time wins listing behind Foyt and Mario Andretti. His first title was in 2003, his first season with Ganassi, and his newest championship comes because the workforce has welcomed NASCAR’s seven-time champion, Jimmie Johnson, to the group.

Ganassi subsequent 12 months may have the 2 most prolific drivers of their respective collection on the identical workforce.

O’Ward, in his first full IndyCar season, completed third within the race and third with Arrow McLaren SP within the remaining standings.

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