Ryan Hunter-Reay won the race, but it was Scott Dixon’s day at the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma (September 16).
Dixon claimed the 2018 Verizon IndyCar® Series championship with a second-place finish in the season finale. His fifth career title breaks a four-way tie for second on the all-time Indy car championships list. Only A.J. Foyt has more with seven.
“The Firestone tires have been fantastic all season,” Dixon said. “We’ve definitely thrown plenty at them, and they’ve taken everything. I can’t thank the engineers and everybody involved at Firestone enough who put the effort in. The safety is nothing we ever have to think about and the performance is just untouched."
Dixon recorded three wins (Detroit, Texas and Toronto) this season, but his performance in the races he didn’t win made the difference in securing his first championship since 2015. Dixon cracked the top five 13 times, including nine finishes in the top three. Only twice in 17 races did he finish worse than sixth.
This was the 13th consecutive season that the Verizon IndyCar® Series championship was decided in the final race, as Dixon entered Sonoma with only a 29-point advantage over Alexander Rossi. However, Rossi’s chances to catch Dixon took an early hit when he ran into the back of teammate Marco Andretti on the opening lap. Rossi fell to last in the field as he pitted to install a new front wing. He managed to rally through the field to finish seventh, but wound up losing ground to Dixon in the final driver points standings.
Dixon (678 points) ended the year 57 points ahead of Rossi (621 points), while Power (582 points), Hunter-Reay (566 points) and 2017 champion Josef Newgarden (560 points) rounded out the top five.
Hunter-Reay captured the pole at Sonoma and led a race-high 80 laps in the 85-lap race to earn his second victory of the season. Will Power finished third for his eighth podium-finish of the year, while Simon Pagenaud and Marco Andretti were fourth and fifth, respectively.
The Firestone Racing team would like to thank all the teammates who helped make the 2018 season another memorable year. The team will return to the track March 10 when the 2019 season kicks off at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida.