SALINAS, Calif – Scott Dixon knew that he had a tall task ahead of him this weekend at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The defending NTT IndyCar Series champion wanted to defend his crown but in order to do so, he had to make up 85 points on Josef Newgarden.
Basically, Dixon had to have Newgarden finish in the bottom few positions while also seeing Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud finish outside of the top five too.
Likely not going to happen.
Dixon though, did his best to ensure that he gave himself a fighting chance. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver qualified on the front row and ran in the top five all day. He’d finish third in his No. 9 Honda for his fifth podium over the final seven races of the season including six runner-ups overall in 2019.
He closes 2019 with 46 second place finishes during his Indy Car career, which rank him second all-time. Inly Mario Andretti’s 56 runner-ups are higher.
Dixon, also has 46 wins now, so combined, he has 92 top two finishes in the series, most among any driver ever.
Dixon’s bid for a sixth career championship though was hampered by rare mistakes and bad luck mishaps. He came out of the gates hot with a podium in four of the first five races. A rough Month on the Indy oval saw him qualify 18th and finish a disappointing 17th. A week later, Dixon made his first real mistake in two years in crashing on Lap 23 in the wet in Belle Isle. He’d finish 22nd for his first DNF since Texas in 2017.
While he battled back and won the next day on the streets of Belle Isle, he made a crushing mistake in trying to pass rookie Colton Herta with 20 laps remaining a week later in Texas and crashed for a second time in three races. Dixon, went from a sure top five to 17th.
Then, Dixon turned it on again. He had five straight top five finishes including a win and three runner-ups heading into Gateway. Unfortunately, a radiator went out early on in the race in St. Louis which relegated him to a 20th place result. A week later, he had another mechanical issue while leading the race in Portland. He’d finish 16th.
The reason he didn’t win the championship in 2019 is because of those rare crashes and bizarre mechanical failures.