Scott Dixon celebrates in victory lane at World Wide Technology Raceway. (Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski)

Here Comes Scott Dixon, Again

Just when Alex Palou may have been preparing to write his championship celebration speech, Scott Dixon reentered the NTT IndyCar Series title conversation in the blink of an eye.

Entering the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course two races ago, all eyes were on Josef Newgarden, who was attempting to eat into Palou’s massive points lead.

Though an early-race crash all but squashed any momentum Newgarden had after sweeping the Iowa Speedway doubleheader and a fourth-place effort on the streets of Nashville. 

Meanwhile, Palou’s teammate and six-time IndyCar Series champion Dixon stole the spotlight en route to extending his streak of consecutive winning seasons to 19, with his first victory of the season at the Brickyard.

Dixon vaulted to the runner-up spot in the title hunt, 101 points behind Palou.

Last Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill., Dixon put on a clinic as he and the No. 9 Honda team went with a fuel-save strategy that vaulted him to the lead for a race-high 123 laps.

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Dixon on track at World Wide Technology Raceway. (Don Figler Photo)

The Kiwi crossed under the checkered flag more than 22 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Pato O’Ward. Palou finished seventh. 

“That was cool. I think the margin, too,” Dixon said after the race. “I know (Will) Power was pretty short. They were trying to push us to stop us getting the mileage we needed. We were just kind of monitoring, keep him at bay, even stretch it sometimes if we needed to. 

“Obviously Ross, the engineer, did an amazing job with the car, had a car that enabled us to kind of save the fuel we needed to. Yeah, I guess about 10 to go, I asked them, ‘How much heat are we getting from behind?’ They were like, ‘It’s over 20 seconds, so just cruise.’

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a race like that.”

With two races left in the season, Dixon trails Palou by 74 points. 

Attempting to cut into Palou’s massive lead is a tall task. However, Dixon has been in this position before.

In 2015, Dixon entered the season finale third in points, 47 markers behind points leader Juan Pablo Montoya. Dixon won the race and Montoya had trouble leaving the two drivers tied in points. Dixon was awarded the championship on a tiebreaker, having won one more race than Montoya.

Dixon scored the tiebreaker over Montoya since he had one more victory. 

Fast forward eight years later and the CGR driver is once again playing catch up. 

While he’d prefer to be the points leader heading into the final two races at Portland (Ore.) Int’l Raceway and California’s WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Dixon is focused forward on what he can control as he pursues a record-tying seventh championship. 

“I would much rather be in Alex’s position. That’s a pretty healthy lead. He’s maintained and done an exceptional job all year,” Dixon said. “It would take a pretty big hit I think. It would take maybe a mechanical or a crash to make it interesting for Laguna. 

“But anything is possible, right? I think all of us have seen, myself personally, been involved in situations like that before. There are no double points, none of that stuff going on,” Dixon continued. 

“Yeah, he’s got a healthy lead. Until we’re mathematically out of it, we’ll keep pushing as hard as possible as we always do. The goal for us the last two races is to try to win them.”