Scott Dixon says he has plenty of work cut out for him if he is to secure a sixth IndyCar Series crown at the season finale later this month.
Dixon came into this weekend’s Harvest Grand Prix from Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a comfortable 72 point margin over Josef Newgarden. But dual strong outings by the Penske driver has seen that advantage disintegrate to a mere 32.
It means Dixon will need to finish at least ninth in St. Petersburg to deny Newgarden a third crown, a result he has only bettered once in the last four races.
In fact, Dixon’s average finishing result over the last four races is a lowly 9.25, while Newgarden is averaging a commanding third place finish.
Dixon is wary of the necessary work ahead of him despite still in the box seat to claim the top spoils.
“I was loose the whole race,” Dixon said. “We tried everything. It was flat out. Interesting day for us. I think we’re 32 points out in the lead now (and) have to be ninth or better come St. Pete.
“As always, the NTT IndyCar Series comes down to the final race – even with the lead we had, over 100 points at one stage.
“It’s nice still to be on the leading side of the points at this stage,” he added. “It’s still a big margin, so he has to get most laps led, all the four bonus points and we have to finish ninth. But they have been pretty good in St Pete in previous years. You know, we’re definitely going to have our work cut out.”
Fortunately for Dixon, this year’s finale will not offer double points as was the norm over the last five seasons.
Newgarden, meanwhile, comes into St. Petersburg as the most recent winner of the street battle and Penske have won an unprecedented nine of the races since the circuit joined the calendar in 2005.
“Man, if we could have had a phenomenal day like yesterday, we’d be in really good shape,” said the reigning champion.
“But we were mediocre today. We just didn’t start high up enough. We’re in it with a shot. We can go to St. Pete now and try and win this championship. Just wish we were in a closer position.”