Dixon takes IndyCar crown as Hunter-Reay wins at Sonoma

San Francisco (AFP) –


New Zealand's Scott Dixon captured his fifth career IndyCar season points title Sunday by finishing second to American Ryan Hunter-Reay at the Grand Prix of Sonoma.

The 38-year-old Auckland-raised racer led the season points chase for the last eight of 17 season events, starting and finishing behind only Hunter-Reay to seize the crown.

"This is mega," Dixon said. "This is so awesome. I can't believe it has actually happened. I can't thank everybody enough for this. It's so cool."

Only US legend A.J. Foyt, with seven season titles from 1960 to 1979, has won more career crowns than Dixon's five, which were taken in 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015 as well as Sunday.

"It's all about the people. I'm the lucky one who gets to take it across the line,"

"I can't thank enough everybody on the team. This doesn't come without a lot of work. It took a lot of grit. There were a lot of things that could have gone wrong today."

Dixon, who has driven 304 open-wheel races in 18 campaigns, won the season crown with 678 points with American Alexander Rossi second, 57 points back. Australian Will Power was third, 96 adrift, with Hunter-Reay fourth on 566 after his win over 85 laps on a 2.385-mile road course.

"This is a great win for this team to finish the year off," Hunter-Reay said. "To end this way is unreal."

Power was third behind Dixon to complete the podium followed by France's Simon Pagenaud, American Marco Andretti, France's Sebastien Bourdais and Rossi in seventh.

Dixon began the race with a 29-point edge over Rossi with Power and US defending season champion Josef Newgarden having only a longshot chance at the title.

Rossi suffered a major early setback, running into left rear tire of braking teammate Andretti in the opening turn, his car suffering front wing damage.

Rossi went to the pits for repairs but fell from sixth to last in the 25-car field while Dixon remained second to Hunter-Reay.

"I don't know if he lifted or I misjudged it," Rossi said. "It was going to be a tough day to beat Scott anyway.

"I wish I could replay that a million more times after the mistake I made. It's tough to come in second but I have lots to work on for next year."

After passing Dixon and Hunter-Reay to get back onto the lead lap, Rossi refueled just ahead of a caution flag for Graham Rahal that left the charging American 14th after a restart with 35 laps remaining.

Rossi rose to fifth but came no closer to overtaking Dixon and threatening his title bid.

"I was hoping we hadn't used up everything," Dixon said. "Rossi did a hell of a job."