clearn.png
Friday April 16th, 2021 3:16AM

Dixon's struggles open door to Newgarden for IndyCar title

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Scott Dixon looked invincible in the first half of this IndyCar season.

He won the first three races before ceding the fourth to Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Felix Rosenqvist. Runner-up finishes at Iowa and in the Indianapolis 500 gave Dixon five top-twos in seven races, and a win at St. Louis extended the streak to six of eight.

Then everything turned on one of the greatest drivers of his generation and, suddenly, a 96-point lead dwindled steadily down to 32. Now, the Iceman needs everything he can muster to clinch his sixth IndyCar title.

“It's still good to be on the leading side of it and we still have a pretty good window," Dixon said Saturday after a finishing eighth at Indianapolis. “But we've definitely got our work cut out."

There's no doubt about it after the struggles of the last two race weekends.

In the first race at Mid-Ohio, Dixon qualified 17th and finished 10th, his second-worst showing all season. The next day he qualified third, but an early spin in the first turn dropped him to 10th again, allowing defending champion Josef Newgarden to cut the deficit to 72 points.

The trouble continued at Indy.

While Newgarden picked up a bonus point Thursday by qualifying on the front row for the first of two races, Dixon caught a bad break when Takuma Sato's spin into the gravel pit ended his group's session prematurely. He started 12th in the 25-car field.

Things got worse Friday when Newgarden's win, coupled with Dixon's ninth-place showing, cut the deficit to 40 points.

On Saturday, there were more problems when Newgarden weaved his way through the field from the No. 9 starting spot to a fourth-place finish. Meanwhile, Dixon, who started 15th, spent the day hanging onto a loose car that was damaged early in the race. Dixon managed to finish eight, but the gap is now just 32 points with the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg looming.

“We're going to St. Pete to try and win a championship," Newgarden said after the third and final race weekend of the season at Indy. “I just wish we were a little closer."

The most surprising part of what's happened is that Dixon has been one of the steadiest drivers in the series for two decades.

Since team owner Chip Ganassi left CART and returned full-time to the IndyCar Series in 2003, Dixon has made 294 starts and reached the podium 118 times (40.1%). His 50 career wins are third all-time behind A.J. Foyt (67) and Mario Andretti (52).

And Dixon hasn't just completed every lap of every race this season, he's led in points every day of this strange, abbreviated season.

“It’s definitely been a trying last few race weekends between Mid-Ohio and Indy," Dixon said Saturday. “I’m still mad at myself for making that mistake at Mid-Ohio and letting those points get away. As always, the (IndyCar) points title comes down to the last race."

It's the 15th consecutive year that's happened.

The truth is Dixon is still in the driver's seat.

By finishing eighth or higher, he still earns the title, moving within one of matching Foyt's career record. If Dixon does claim the title, he and Foyt both would have won their sixth crowns at age 40.

History suggests Dixon will be fine, too. He's had a top-seven finish in seven of the last eight races on St. Petersburg's street course.

So maybe the three-week break will help Dixon clear his mind before contemplating tactics. Or perhaps it will just help him get back to being himself.

“What I see, from working closely with him, is that his (driving) level is so high all the time that even on a bad day, he's up front," teammate Marcus Ericsson said.

All he really needs, though, is one more good day in the No. 9 car to reclaim the title of champion for the second time in three years.

“The fight will still be on until someone locks up the championship," Dixon said. "So you have to keep digging deep and moving forward the best you can.”

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Auto Racing, Indy Car Racing
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Dixon's struggles open door to Newgarden for IndyCar title
Scott Dixon opened this IndyCar season looking invincible with three straight wins as he built a 117-point lead
12:25PM ( 2 minutes ago )
Winds of change blow on day of upsets at French Open
Sunday quickly turned out to be a day of upsets in the women's draw at the French Open
12:10PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Azerbaijan's No. 2 city targeted in fighting with Armenia
The fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces has continued on Sunday over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, with Azerbaijan’s second largest city coming under attack
12:07PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
AP source: Titans have 2 new positives, none for rest of NFL
A person familiar with the situation says another Tennessee Titans player and another staff member have tested positive for the coronavirus, while the rest of the NFL returned no new positives
10:52AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Sinner first QF debutant since next foe: Nadal
Roland Garros debutant Jannik Sinner ousted U.S. Open finalist Alexander Zverev from the French Open with a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory that could hardly be called an upset
10:39AM ( 1 hour ago )
Lone Star Sadness: Horns, Aggies form Axis of Underachievers
Texas and Texas A&M have everything needed to put out a national championship-level football program
10:09AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Power claims another pole at Indy, Dixon's woes continue
Will Power has won the pole for the second race on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's race this weekend with a fast lap of 1 minute, 8.9767 seconds
11:50AM ( 1 day ago )
Newgarden's stays in championship fight with 1st Indy win
Two-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden closed the gap in the championship fight by pulling away from the rest of the field over the final 18 laps to win the first of two Harvest GP races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
6:45PM ( 1 day ago )
NASCAR at long last adds schedule variety with 2021 changes
NASCAR promised radical changes to the 2021 schedule and it has delivered
6:26PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Online Auto Racing
The Latest: Virus scraps Florida Atlantic-Georgia Southern
Florida Atlantic has postponed its football opener Saturday at Georgia Southern because of a coronavirus outbreak
4:19PM ( 2 weeks ago )
The Latest: Irish rugby ‘under threat’ unless without fans
Irish Rugby Football Union chief executive Philip Browne says net losses for 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic are projected to be more than $35 million
11:58AM ( 2 weeks ago )
The Latest: Indy to open to fans with October doubleheader
Indianapolis Motor Speedway will open to fans for the first time in 2020 for the IndyCar doubleheader Oct. 3-4
10:21AM ( 2 weeks ago )
Indy Car Racing
Winds of change blow on day of upsets at French Open
Sunday quickly turned out to be a day of upsets in the women's draw at the French Open
12:10PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Azerbaijan's No. 2 city targeted in fighting with Armenia
The fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces has continued on Sunday over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, with Azerbaijan’s second largest city coming under attack
12:07PM ( 21 minutes ago )
The Latest: Doctor tried to show Trump's 'upbeat attitude'
President Donald Trump’s physician says he was trying to “reflect the upbeat attitude” of the president and his medical team when he declined to share Saturday that Trump was placed on oxygen the day before
12:02PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Drubbed in 2018, California GOP looks to regain House seats
California Republicans are trying to tap into voter frustration to win back a string of U.S. House districts the party lost two years ago
12:01PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Doctors: Trump continues to improve during virus treatment
Doctors say President Donald Trump has continued to improve but faced serious symptoms on Friday
11:59AM ( 29 minutes ago )