Newgarden and Dixon survived an usually chaotic and bruising 100-lap Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to maneuver from eighth and 11th on the grid to complete first and third respectively.
But the Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda driver’s lead going into the race was sufficient to go away him with a 16-point cushion on the head of the championship desk. Even with Newgarden of Team Penske-Chevrolet profitable his second consecutive St. Pete race, Dixon wanted solely to complete within the high 9 – and survive the numerous restarts
“It definitely got pretty close there!” the six-time champion instructed NBC after the race. “Credit to Josef and Team Penske, they drove the last part of the season flawlessly, and scored so many points.
“It was awesome to race them again. We know next year is going to be the same.”
Dixon is now just one championship from matching legend A.J. Foyt on the high of Indy automobile racing’s all-time report.
“Six is good, seven sounds better – that’s obviously going to be the goal.
“It’s tough, as you can see from the competition, if you mess up in qualifying. But credit to the team to be able to pull ourselves out of the hole this weekend.
“We needed a smooth race, and that’s what we did. We definitely had the speed when we needed to push.
“Credit to Josef, he drove a hell of a race and put us under a lot of pressure.”
Newgarden, IndyAutomotive champion in 2017 and ’19, instructed NBC his day was “definitely bitter-sweet” after scoring his fourth win of the 12 months, a tally that matches Dixon’s.
He went on: “Congrats to Scott and his crew; it’s big-time to win six championships. They were a great competitor.
“On one hand, I don’t know what I’d do differently this year, or what I’d ask my guys to do differently. They were flawless, fastest in the pits. Extremely proud to drive for my team. It’s an incredible crew, and we just came up short.
“We weren’t good enough, we’ll reset and hit them harder next year, and I promise you, we’ll be in the fight. We were just a little short on points.”
The warning flags and subsequent restarts, he stated, performed into his arms as he needed to rise from eighth on the grid. He additionally stated he loved his final-stint battle with Arrow McLaren SP’s younger gun Patricio O’Ward, who scored his second runner-up end of the season.
“We didn’t need a full-green race, so that played into our favor today,” stated Newgarden. “We had the flow of the race that we needed. It was fun to race Pato, even when it was really difficult at the end of the race and the pickup on the tires was really tough to clean. I’ve really enjoyed driving against him.
“We had a fairly quick car, had to make some moves and outlasted everybody. We did what we needed to do… but we knew fate wasn’t entirely in our hands. We did what we could and hoped for the best.”