Dixon and Pagenaud come up short in championship

Not too far off from Josef Newgarden were championship hopefuls, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud. Pagenaud came into the final race of the season, third in the standings just 42 points back looking for the second championship of his career. It would be his first since 2016 and all Pagenaud needed to do was beat the other three, and win the race.

For Scott Dixon to further elevate his legacy, he needed to win the race as well. Dixon was the longshot 85 points back, looking to go back-to-back in his career. Should Dixon have won, it would have been the sixth title of his legendary IndyCar career.

Dixon had a really good starting spot of second heading into the season finale on Sunday. In what was a longshot, he would hope for Newgarden, Alexander Rossi and Pagenaud to fail early to see him winning the race. However, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver spent most of the event behind the back bumper of race leader Colton Herta.

He never got to lead a lap, but realistically was still eligible to win the title if everything worked in his favor. But, Dixon’s title chances came to an end on Kap 51, as Ed Jones retired from the race due to a mechanical problem. With Jones out of the race, so was Dixon’s title chances as he was eliminated from title contention due to being too far back and all the bonus points being taken up by Herta.

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Still, despite the news, Dixon knew he only had one thing to do to cap the season off and that was to win. Having to fend off title challenger Pagenaud started to make it difficult for him to catch the race leaders. In the end, Dixon finished third and fourth in the championship, -63 back.

“It was frustrating, we had a lot of drag in the middle and the end of each stint,” Dixon explained to IndyCar Radio. “We were tight there at the end, definitely put a lot of pressure on Simon (Pagenaud) there and we came close a few times. That’s hard racing. The manufacture points for Honda at the end there was pretty tight. So we had to make sure we stayed in front. It’s always nice to race for a podium and it’s fantastic to race with Simon, he’s a great driver. He definitely had a very fast car today.”

Despite being the longshot, Dixon will end the 2019 season with two wins, 10 podiums and 214 laps led.

For Simon Pagenaud, he was chasing down Dixon late in the going as it appeared Pagenaud had finally found something that made his car work. There was one close moment in the race, where him and Alexander Rossi barely made contact with each other, which made IndyCar officials take the incident under review.

With the close call, the officials determined no action and the drivers kept on jockeying for position. Pagenaud’s car started to rally late and caught Dixon. He was trying all he could to pass him, realizing he still might have a shot to win the title. However, Dixon kept Pagenaud behind him and the laps ran out of time, as Pagenaud finished fourth in the race, second in the championship -25 behind his teammate and champion Josef Newgarden.

“First of all it was an amazing race, very happy we could give a show to the fans, you guys came en mass,” Pagenaud said to IndyCar Radio. “I want to thank you, we all want to thank you for being here for supporting us as a sport. Just an amazing year for Team Penske. I get the (Indy) 500 and Josef (Newgarden) gets the championship, it’s pretty much a perfect picture for us.”

“I gave it everything I had. The car was amazing and fantastic. I tried to give everything I had to the DXC Technology car. It was tough to pass (Scott) Dixon for sure. We had a great battle, but not enough in the end. Nonetheless, 2019 has probably been my best racing season so far.”

Simon Pagenaud will end the season three wins including winning the Indy 500, four podiums and three pole position, along with 268 laps led.

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