Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon won the IndyCar championship by the narrowest of possible margins by winning the season-ending GoProGrand Prix of Sonoma to earn a points tie with Team Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya and prevailing on the tie-breaker. It is the New Zealander’s fourth IndyCar title.
But Dixon dominated the Sonoma race, leading most of the laps while trouble found both Montoya and Rahal, who finished the race in 6th and 18th after collisions.
Dixon reveled in the post-race celebration, shaking his television interviewer while exclaiming, “Damn it man, I can’t believe it!” Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay finished second in the race, followed by Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball.
While Dixon largely controlled the race from the front all day, Montoya inexplicably collided with his teammate Will Power mid-way through the race, running into the back of Power’s car as he fought with a car ahead. “Just threw it away,” said a disappointed Montoya after the race. The resulting damage and pit stop put Montoya behind, leaving him in a tough position to preserve the championship.
Rahal meanwhile struggled with a car that was difficult to drive and was unable to challenge Dixon. All hope was lost when KVSH Racing’s Sebastian Bourdais ran into the back of Rahal’s car with only a handful of laps to go, spinning Rahal back to 18th place. Bourdais was punished with a stop-and-go penalty that put him in 19th place for the day.
The race began with numerous tributes to Justin Wilson, the popular English driver killed in last week’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway when he was struck in the head by debris from another driver’s crash.
With that weighing heavily on the IndyCar teams, drivers and families, there seemed relief that the season is over, even among those who had hoped to finish as champion. “We have a lot to be proud of, but we wanted to go off better than this,” Rahal concluded.
Photos by Andretti Autosport, via Twitter