Scott Dixon Starting On Front Row At Sonoma

Ganassi Driver Seeking His 5th Title And Team's 12th Championship

Scott Stiller
September 16, 2018 - 9:38 am
Scott Dixon's No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Chris Owens-IndyCar Series

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Sonoma, CA (93.7 The Fan) - PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is starting on the front row for today’s IndyCar Season Finale, the IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway in California.

Dixon will start second after a lap of 1.17.7599-seconds (110.417 mph) in the No. 9 Honda. Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay will start on the pole position after edging Dixon with a lap of 1.17.6277-seconds (110.605 mph) in the No. 28 DHL Honda.  

“The No. 28 DHL Honda team did such a good job putting a great car under me,” said Hunter-Reay.  “It’s nice to finally get that pole at Sonoma because we’ve been knocking on the door for it for years”.

Hunter-Reay also grabbed the bonus point for winning the pole, so Dixon enters the double-points race with a 29-point lead in the championship standings over Hunter-Reay’s teammate Alexander Rossi.

“I’m certainly doing my part, as I just took away a point (from Dixon), so we are doing everything we can do,” said Hunter-Reay.

Dixon is chasing his fifth IndyCar championship title that would leave him behind only A.J. Foyt (seven) for the most season titles in IndyCar history.

“I think we definitely had a shot to put the PNC Bank car on the pole today, but we’ll have to chalk that up to driver error,” said Dixon apologetically.  “I had a lap going that would have gotten the pole, but I just made a mistake and it cost us”.

Defending series champion Josef Newgarden will start third in the No. 1 Verizon Chevrolet.  Newgarden and Team Penske teammate Will Power trail Dixon by 87-points, so both have a mathematical shot at the Astor Cup.

Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti will start fourth followed by rookie Patricio O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champion who is making his IndyCar Series debut.

Rossi will start sixth in the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda after not opting for the Red-sidewall Firestone alternate tires which provide more grip.

“I don’t think going out on the blacks (Firestone primary tires) was the right call,” said Rossi.  “I don’t think we had the pace for Ryan, but we decided to try something different and see where it got us”.

Trying something different got Rossi starting behind Dixon on the 2.385-mile permanent road course when the green flag drops, which doesn’t concern Rossi.

“I don’t see us starting behind Dixon that big of an issue,” said Rossi.  “We just need to make sure we build a good race car and make sure we do the best job that we can to extract the most out of the No. 27”.

Dixon is approaching this race like he does every race with a calm, cool demeanor which is why he is nicknamed “The Iceman”.

"We’ve had a fast car here at Sonoma and we’ve stayed at the pointy end of the field since we unloaded,” said Dixon.  “Hopefully, that will continue in the race and we can finish the season strong”.

Dixon clinches the championship by finishing ahead of Rossi and in no lower than 21st place.  Rossi could win his first title by winning the race and Dixon placing third or worse without collecting the two bonus points for leading the most laps.  Newgarden or Power could win the title but either has to win the race and hope Dixon finishes no better than 24th (and not lead the most laps) and Rossi finish no better than 10th.  The IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma pays 100-points to the winner, 80 for second place and sliding down to 10-points for 25th position.

This is the 13th consecutive season the IndyCar championship has come down to the season finale.

Live coverage of the 85-lap race begins at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday on the NBC Sports Network and the IndyCar Radio Network.

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