Dixon refusing to give up on record equalling seventh IndyCar title

Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon has pledged to give his all in IndyCar’s championship finale at Laguna Seca as he chases his record-equaling seventh title.

Dixon refusing to give up on record equalling seventh IndyCar title

Although he lost ground on long-time rival, Team Penske’s Will Power in the points race by finishing right behind him in the Grand Prix of Portland, Dixon has overcome theoretically bigger points deficits with one round to go and claimed the championship.

Although the 2015 finale at Sonoma Raceway was worth double points, Dixon was still a daunting 47 points down on leader Juan Pablo Montoya heading into that weekend, yet emerged triumphant on a tie-break after he clinched victory and the Penske driver could finish only sixth.

Finishing third behind Scott McLaughlin and Will Power after an impressive recovery from 16th on the grid, Dixon is now 20 points adrift heading into the finale, but said neither he nor the #9 CGR team is going to give up their pursuit of the championship.

"We're still in the fight, 20 points back tied with Josef [Newgarden],” said Dixon, “so it was definitely an interesting race. We tried as hard as we could.

“Anything is possible now, we've won on tie-breakers before, we are in it and we will never give up as a team until it's over."

Should he clinch the championship at Laguna Seca, Dixon will match AJ Foyt’s all-time record of seven IndyCar titles.

Ganassi team-mate and 2021 champion Alex Palou can no longer retain the championship after a subdued run to 12th in Portland with an ill-handling car, while Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson is now 39 points from Power after taking 11th.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Title contenders Newgarden and O'Ward deflated after Portland 

Dixon's title rivals Josef Newgarden and Pato O’Ward were left deflated after encountering major setbacks in the Grand Prix of Portland.

Newgarden qualified second but due to taking a fifth engine, lost six grid slots. Like O’Ward, he started on primaries, and even though he lost three places in the opening stint, by the penultimate stint he was up to fourth and applying pressure to O’Ward.

However, his scuffed Firestone alternates in that stint persuaded him to go for the less-favoured primaries in the final stint, and while this may have worked out, the strategy was undone by the caution, caused by Rinus VeeKay smacking Jimmie Johnson into the wall approaching Turn 1.

Newgarden slipped down to ninth following the restart, although he salvaged one spot when Christian Lundgaard had to pit after picking up debris.

The 2017 and ’19 champion told NBC, “We didn't predict that caution. There's always that risk in the final stint, and I wasn't thinking about that because it'd gone green the entire race.

"It's a hard day when you end up eighth. Nothing really gained on a tough starting spot."

Newgarden, who entered the weekend only three points behind teammate Power, is now 20 points adrift, tied with Dixon. Asked about his prospects in the finale at Laguna Seca, Newgarden replied: "At this point, it just kinda is what it is. We're just going to try and win that race and go for broke.

“It's kinda been a weird year, everyone has done just such a good job on this #2 car, but something weird always happens – like we didn't need that yellow today. We just seem to be on the odd end of these things.

“So I don't know how Laguna is going to play but we're just going there to play to win and we'll see what happens.”

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Arrow McLaren SP driver O'Ward is now out of contention for the title after an eventful run to fourth in Portland that included a late clash with Power while fighting for second spot. 

He dived down the inside of the 2014 champion at Turn 1, and Power made as much room as possible for him, but was still struck by the AMSP car. 

O'Ward then had to defend from the advancing Dixon and moved to block the charging Ganassi car which earned him a penalty, whereby he had to cede his third place.

"We had to come up with the win to truly have a decent shot at it at Laguna,” said O’Ward, “but I didn't have enough for the Penske boys. They dominated everybody all weekend.

“I tried to make the pass around Will and we had an injured left side of the car for the rest of the race. Just had to nurse it from there.

“We had to let Dixon by because apparently we blocked him – so I expect IndyCar to make the same call when somebody does that to me.”

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