Scott Dixon denies Juan Pablo Montoya 2015 IndyCar title at Sonoma

Scott Dixon won the 2015 IndyCar title on a tiebreak with Juan Pablo Montoya thanks to victory in an eventful season-finale at Sonoma on Sunday

Scott Dixon denies Juan Pablo Montoya 2015 IndyCar title at Sonoma

Ganassi driver Dixon came into the weekend third in the points and needing to win the race and hope that season-long championship leader Montoya encountered some sort of problem.

He took care of the first part, reeling off a perfect performance on an afternoon where fuel mileage and rapid tyre wear made for a tangle of strategies.

And incredibly, Penske took care of the other part for him. Will Power had been in command of the early part of the race, with Montoya running around in the middle of the top 10, which at that point was enough to preserve his points lead.

His afternoon took a dive shortly after a restart, when Power, running just ahead of Montoya, appeared to leave a gap at the top of the hill.

Montoya went to fill it, only for Power to rejoin the racing line, leaving his team-mate with nowhere to go other than into his rear.

The impact sent both cars back into the pits for repairs, and Montoya rejoined near the back of the field and knowing that he needed to climb back to fifth in order to salvage the title.

Off-strategy cars cycling through their stops helped the Colombian to regain some places, but his best chance came at the expense of the driver who'd come into the weekend as his closest rival: Graham Rahal.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver was fighting with Sebastien Bourdais when the Frenchman missed his brake marker completely at the hairpin and punted Rahal squarely in the rear, spinning him to the back of the pack.

That took Rahal out of the equation for Montoya and the resultant drive-through for Bourdais moved the Colombian up one more place to sixth, which put him equal on points with Dixon, but needing to gain one more place to avoid losing the title on a countback.

The next driver, Ryan Briscoe, was 3.0s down the road, and struggling on the red tyres, but with just 12 laps left, catching and passing the Schmidt driver was always going to be a tall order.

Montoya did manage to whittle the deficit down to 1.1s, but couldn't get any closer. After leading the championship for the entire year, he lost it by a single position as Dixon claimed a fourth title.

"We knew at the start of the weekend the title was still a chance and that's what we were hoping for," said an elated Dixon.

"This is fantastic. I don't know what to say. "Thoughts and prayers first to Justin Wilson's family.

"We were such a long shot to win it, and we won it on countback. I can't believe it."

Montoya refused to blame his team-mate after the race, instead shifting his disappointment to the double-points format.

"It doesn't matter what happened," he said "It's just a shame. We threw the championship away.

"We had a competitive car to do what we needed to do, and we didn't do it.

"When you have a double-points race at the end, it doesn't matter what you do all year - we had one bad weekend and we lost the championship."

Ryan Hunter-Reay ran towards the front all day to secure second, while a similarly solid afternoon from Charlie Kimball was rewarded with the final podium place.

RESULTS - 85 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 2h09m14.2620s
2 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 6.1115s
3 Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 7.1279s
4 Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 8.9030s
5 Ryan Briscoe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 10.0749s
6 Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 11.2548s
7 Will Power Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 12.4877s
8 Takuma Sato AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Honda 16.0888s
9 Rodolfo Gonzalez Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 20.8011s
10 Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 22.5749s
11 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 23.6709s
12 Oriol Servia Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 24.4514s
13 Sebastian Saavedra Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 24.7775s
14 Gabby Chaves Bryan Herta Autosport Dallara/Honda 25.5357s
15 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 26.0659s
16 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 27.3185s
17 Stefano Coletti KV Racing Technology Dallara/Chevrolet 35.1645s
18 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda 36.4838s
19 Jack Hawksworth AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Honda 38.9404s
20 Sebastien Bourdais KVSH Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 42.5956s
21 Josef Newgarden CFH Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 1 Lap
22 Carlos Munoz Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 1 Lap
23 Tristan Vautier Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 3 Laps
24 Luca Filippi CFH Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 5 Laps
25 James Jakes Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda Contact

FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Scott Dixon 556
2 Juan Pablo Montoya 556
3 Will Power 493
4 Graham Rahal 490
5 Helio Castroneves 453
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay 436
7 Josef Newgarden 431
8 Tony Kanaan 431
9 Marco Andretti 429
10 Sebastien Bourdais 406
11 Simon Pagenaud 384
12 Charlie Kimball 372
13 Carlos Munoz 349
14 Takuma Sato 323
15 Gabby Chaves 281
16 James Jakes 257
17 Jack Hawksworth 256
18 Ryan Briscoe 205
19 Stefano Coletti 203
20 Sage Karam 197
21 Luca Filippi 182
22 Tristan Vautier 172
23 James Hinchcliffe 129
24 Justin Wilson 108
25 Sebastian Saavedra 96
26 Rodolfo Gonzalez 94
27 Ed Carpenter 88
28 Conor Daly 81
29 Pippa Mann 76
30 Simona de Silvestro 66
31 J.R. Hildebrand 57
32 Oriol Servia 46
33 Mikhail Aleshin 40
34 Francesco Dracone 38
35 Townsend Bell 32
36 Carlos Huertas 31
37 Alex Tagliani 27
38 Bryan Clauson 10
39 James Davison 10
40 Buddy Lazier 0

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