Newgarden wins IndyCar finale, Dixon takes sixth title - The Race
IndyCar

Newgarden wins IndyCar finale, Dixon takes sixth title

Oct 25 2020
By Jack Benyon

Josef Newgarden won the IndyCar season finale at St Petersburg in an action-packed race, but Scott Dixon’s third place gave him a sixth championship with Chip Ganassi Racing.

In a bizarre race that included a momentary shower and a handful of crashes, it was a story of survival for title rivals Newgarden and Dixon.

Newgarden needed to finish at least second to have any hope of the title, and started eighth while Dixon – with a 32 point lead – was 11th.

Both drivers were able to move up at the start with Newgarden – starting on the softer compound red tyres – avoiding a crash with Sebastien Bourdais and then later with his pole sitting team-mate Will Power as he raced aggressively.

Newgarden pitted from seventh on lap 29/100 and Dixon followed a lap later – mirroring Newgarden’s strategy.

After two yellow flags just before halfway Dixon made two key moves, passing Graham Rahal and initially backing out of a move on Jack Harvey before completing it later in the lap to take sixth, with Newgarden fourth.

Other drivers’ misfortune promoted both contenders further, and following a very light shower under caution, on the lap 79 restart Newgarden passed Colton Herta and Alex Palou at the exit of Turn 2 to take the lead.

A crash immediately after that move brought out the safety car – which then ran out of fuel!

On the restart, Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward made three passes and harried Newgarden for the lead for the remainder of the race, but Newgarden held on, extending the gap in the last 10 laps to over four seconds.

At that last restart Dixon was relegated to fourth by O’Ward, but Herta then went off at Turn 4 for the second time in the race to give Dixon the position back.

It was enough to secure the title for Dixon in a year where he won the first three races, but Newgarden executed a massive points swing over the last five races and will be left contemplating bad luck in the first half of the season which cost him a third title.

An incredible battle for $1 million took place during the race, with the money on offer for securing the 22nd spot in the owners points standings.

Bourdais had run around the top 10 for the early part of the race but was forced to make an extra pitstop – under caution – just before halfway.

That intersected with Marco Andretti – starting 23rd – making up a handful of positions on the lap 53 restart, the most impressive of which a pass for seventh in which he locked the front left and dived down the inside of Graham Rahal to take the spot.

However, Andretti was taken out of the race on lap 75, and Bourdais came back to the fore for AJ Foyt Racing to secure fourth behind Dixon and claim the $1m for his team.

Ryan Hunter-Reay took fifth as the highest finishing Andretti car, when three of his team-mates previously ran 1-2-3. Herta was the next best in 11th.

Andretti’s James Hinchcliffe ran second with just over 20 laps to go but spun under yellow and then drove into Jack Harvey while rejoining the track – breaking his front wing. He dropped back to 14th.

His team-mate Alexander Rossi led most of the first half of the race but crashed three laps after pitting, with 26 to go, taking him out of contention. He crashed in the same place Will Power had – Turn 3 – earlier in the race.

Polesitter Power gave the lead to Rossi after five laps following a downshift issue and continued to fall back before his lap 36 crash.

Power’s team-mate Simon Pagenaud had a tricky race but took sixth ahead of Dixon’s team-mate Marcus Ericsson.

Charlie Kimball made it two AJ Foyt cars in the top 10 with eighth, ahead of Rahal Letterman Lanigan team-mates Rahal and Takuma Sato.

Treble Australian Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin said his IndyCar race debut was “the best day of my life, apart from my wedding”, but crashed out in the first half of the race after a half hearted attempt to pass Andretti failed and also collected Rinus VeeKay.

VeeKay merely had to start the race to win the rookie of the year title and confirmed his return to Ed Carpenter Racing on the morning of the race. He recovered to 15th after the incident.

With Dixon’s third place and Hunter-Reay’s fifth, Honda secured its third IndyCar manufacturers’ title in a row ahead of Chevrolet. Each manufacturer’s top two finishing cars score points in each race, providing they contest the whole season.

Race Results

Pos Name Team Car Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 21 2h6m12.594s 1m01.389s 2 51
2 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +4.141s 1m01.89s 2 40
3 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +6.156s 1m01.951s 2 35
4 Sébastien Bourdais A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +7.414s 1m01.879s 3 32
5 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +9.753s 1m02.206s 2 30
6 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +10.578s 1m01.991s 2 28
7 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +11.07s 1m01.238s 3 26
8 Charlie Kimball A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +15.858s 1m01.939s 2 24
9 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 100 2 +16.375s 1m01.82s 2 23
10 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +16.775s 1m01.725s 2 20
11 Colton Herta Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 100 9 +24.215s 1m01.496s 2 20
12 Max Chilton Carlin Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +30.473s 1m02.815s 3 18
13 Alex Palou Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Dallara DW12-Honda 100 1 +43.579s 1m02.07s 5 18
14 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 100 2 +1m04.066s 1m01.93s 4 17
15 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 98 0 +2 laps 1m01.684s 4 15
16 Oliver Askew Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 98 0 +2 laps 1m02.317s 3 14
17 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 98 0 +2 laps 1m02.312s 5 13
18 Felix Rosenqvist Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 98 0 +2 laps 1m01.665s 5 12
19 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 97 0 +3 laps 1m02.335s 3 11
Marco Andretti Andretti Herta with Marco & Curb-Agajanian Dallara DW12-Honda 74 0 DNF 1m02.838s 3 10
Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 69 61 DNF 1m01.667s 2 12
Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 46 0 DNF 1m02.11s 2 8
Santino Ferrucci Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Dallara DW12-Honda 40 0 DNF 1m02.391s 1 7
Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 35 4 DNF 1m02.419s 1 8
Josef Newgarden Scott Dixon IndyCar podium St Petersburg 2020

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