LEEDS, Ala – Scott Dixon is as good as it comes in the NTT IndyCar Series. Depending on which stat you look at, he’s in the top two or three in all of them.
His five rank second ever. Only AJ Foyt (7) has more.
His 44 rank third all time. He only trails AJ Foyt (67) and Mario Andretti (52) on that list.
His now 107 rank third only behind Andretti (144) and Foyt (119).
Dixon earned his 156th on Sunday trailing just Andretti’s 193 on the career top fives list.
But, despite out of his 44 wins being on 22 different tracks, Dixon has still failed to score a victory at the Barber Motorsports Park. Dixon, brought his No. 9 Honda home runner-up again for his second of the season and 42nd of his career. Again, that ranks second ever behind just Andretti (56).
A second place finish at Barber though is different for Dixon than everywhere else. See, this second place run on Sunday was his sixth in 10 tries on the 2.38-mile road course. Yes, six.
He’s been that close to winning at Barber six times (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2019). He also has two third place finishes (2014, 2015) too.
“It was really tough,” said Dixon on his race. “We had a lot of deg we think. We could push really hard early and be quick. The last 10 laps, were tough. The team was really strong in the pits. Another second was good for points.
“It was mostly just trying to hold on. All in all, I’m really happy for the team.”
In Sunday’s race, Dixon was strong but had nothing for race winner Takuma Sato. While he can only laugh about another runner-up it’s still a strong start to his 2019 season and bid for a second straight title.
Yes, we’re also only three races into the NTT IndyCar Series season and I get that a comment like Sunday being a great points day for the entire top five of the finishing order for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is a bit extreme. But, if you look at who finished in the top five and who the favorites are to win this year’s championship – you’d see why.
Sato is on a hot streak. He’s now reached victory lane twice in the last five Indy Car races and has a seventh place finish two weeks ago in COTA and a win now in Barber to his credit. Sato, is up to third in the points standings heading to next weeks race in Long Beach. With how well he’s running, do you really expect him to falter? He has four top 10 finishes in his last six overall starts.
What about second place finisher Dixon?
He called Sunday a good points day as he earned his sixth career runner-up finish at Barber and eighth podium in 10 tries. No, he’s never won on the 2.38-mile Alabama road course, and yes it’s frustrating to finish second six times, but to earn two runner-ups in three tries in 2019, that bodes well for his title hopes.
See, Dixon has never won back-to-back season championships. With five overall titles to his credit, he’d like his sixth to come a year after his fifth in a bad way. Dating back to last July, Dixon has eight top five finishes, six of which being on the podium in his last 10 tries.
Third place finisher Sebastien Bourdais has gained nine spots in the standings in each of the last two races. He now has six top six finishes in his last eight Indy Car starts. Oh yeah, he’s a four time series champion too.
Fourth place finisher Josef Newgarden charged from 16th to finish fourth. If that’s not a good points day, I don’t know what is.
Newgarden, has finished first, second and fourth respectively in 2019 to go along with 11 consecutive top 10 finishes.
Then there’s Alexander Rossi. He doesn’t hide behind that Barber isn’t his favorite stop on the Indy Car schedule. To earn a top five finish in this race for him, well it’s a big accomplishment.
Rossi, has 10 straight top 10 finishes in Indy Car action himself.
So, with how on top of their games these five drivers are, who do you pick to supplant them?