It just cant get any closer than that.
Through 16 races, five months and more than 2,000 laps ran, the Verizon IndyCar Series championship – the Astor Cup – came down to a tie.
Scott Dixon grabbed the victory at Sonoma Raceway while leading the most laps of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to get the most points possible. Juan Pablo Montoya finished sixth, making a tie atop the points – which was given Dixon’s way do to having one more victory than Montoya in the 2015 season.
Simply put, Dixon and his Chip Ganassi Racing Team did what they had to do when it mattered most.
“I still cant believe it,” Dixon said. “We were such a long shot to get this through and I guess we won it on countback, too for most wins – we tied with JPM. Sorry to them, but fantastic for the team.”
The 35-year-old veteran is now a 4-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion.
It still seems so unreal,” he continued. “It was such a long shot. You constantly know where [the title contenders] are but you try to calculate points as well and then when [the team] wasn’t saying nothing, I knew it was gong to be extremely close. Damn it, man I cant believe it!
Dixon’s Sonoma triumph was the third of his season – also winning at Texas Motor Speedway and the famous Long Beach Grand Prix.
“This season we had some good races,” he said. “Long Beach was a first for me which was a big milestone. Indy was a massive disappointment just because I thought we had a car to beat until we had overheating issues. Chevy has done a phenomenal job with this aero kit and the engine, mileage, everything which definitely helped us today.”
Dixon mentioned Justin Wilson who passed away due to injuries suffered in a crash at Pocono last Sunday.
“Obviously, thoughts and prayers first hand to Justin Wilson’s family. Stefan is here as well. We’re going to celebrate tonight as Justin would do the same.”
Juan Pablo Montoya entered the final race 34 points up on Graham Rahal – and a further 47 on Dixon.
Leading the points all season – winning two races including the Indy 500 – Montoya would find himself chasing fifth place Ryan Briscoe for that one spot that would turn the title back to him.
Although putting up a tremendous drive after contact with Team Penske teammate Will Power, Montoya would settle for sixth on track and second in the championship.
“”It doesn’t matter what happened. We fought all year,” Montoya said. “It’s just a shame. We had two ways to win the championship and I just threw it away.
“We had a competitive car today to do what we needed to do and just cut it close.
It’s racing. When you do this and you put double points in the last race like that it doesn’t matter what you did all year. We had one bad race where it was double points and we’re out of the championship.”
Finishing in a tie for the title, one would look back on Montoya’s contact and damaged wing with Will Power as a game changer.
Power was frustrated with the outcome, saying he is “gutted” for the Team Penske organization.
“Just feel so gutted for the team to not win on a draw there,” Power said. “Josef [Newgarden] went up the inside, I tried to switch back and a get a run and Juan got my back bumper there and I spun and unfortunately damaged his bloody wing.”
Power also angrily spoke out about IndyCar closing the pits under caution.
“We have to decide whether we are a sport or a casino because it’s just the luck of the draw here,” Power said.
“There are ways to leave the pits open under yellow so the racing and the championship isn’t decided by race control. Should be decided by people doing a good job on the track.”
Power officially finishes third in his reigning season ahead of Graham Rahal fourth and Helio Castroneves in fifth.
Ryan Hunter-Reay will be remembered as the closer of IndyCar 2015 as he won two of the last four races and stood on the podium, Sunday at Sonoma. He launches from 11th to sixth in final standings.