Scott Dixon is a six-time IndyCar Series champion, the Kiwi is now just one title win behind the all-time record set by A.J Foyt in 1979.
Needing a ninth or better finish in the season finale in St Petersburg, Dixon came home third while his lead title rival Josef Newgarden claimed victory.
“I never doubted it, never doubted it, not with you guys. What a team, thank you all so much, boys and girls, everybody. Well done, well done, this is all you guys, thank you,” Dixon said over the radio moments after crossing the line.
Dixon seemingly always had the top-nine in his grasp, making a swift charge from fifth to third as rain scattered over the last few laps.
Meanwhile, it was a rough introduction to IndyCar for Scott McLaughlin. The three-time Supercars champion spent the most part of the opening half of the race in the bottom few positions.
He was then eliminated when he made contact with Marco Andretti off a safety car restart into Turn 1. The Kiwi was pitched into a spin and he was then collected by an unsighted Rings Veekay.
Will Power led from pole, a key position as he looked to aid teammate Newgarden on his push through the front. But the Australian’s lead came unglued when a downshift issue had him slump to fourth in a handful of laps.
The drama elevated Alexander Rossi to the front of the field. He held a 2sec lead on Colton Herta and James Hinchcliffe, with Power five seconds adrift.
Rossi would then crash on his own in a bizarre accident, dashing his hopes of victory.
Starting ninth, Newgarden extended his first stint on the primary tyres until Lap 27 when he switched for the fastest red tyre compound.
Pushing hard, Newgarden’s charge abruptly ended when the full course yellow came out as Power crashed out at Turn 4, citing suspension damage as the cause of the accident.
Nonetheless, Newgarden and Dixon were running smoothly in the top five from the restart with the former stealing the lead by passing two cars into Turn 4 on Lap 79.
A crash immediately after that move brought out the final safety car intervention.
On the restart, 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.
Dixon was relegated to fourth during the restart by O’Ward, but when Herta went off at Turn 4 for the second time in the race, it gave Dixon the position back.
Thus, third position was enough to secure the title for Dixon in a year where he won the first three races, and at one stage boasting a 127 point lead.
However, 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.