Five championships and counting, Dixon is far from finished

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The remarkable career of reigning and five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest in the history of Indy car racing. While he looks to continue his reign of terror on the record books, there is one feat he has never accomplished: compiling back-to-back championships.

Entering his 19th Indy car season, the quest to rectify that begins this weekend with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“The hardest part (of winning a championship) is always trying to defend it,” said Dixon, driver of the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I've never done that, so we're probably the wrong person to ask about that as well. For us, goal No. 1 is to try and capture that sixth championship, go back to back.”

After claiming his fifth Astor Cup Trophy in 2018, Dixon moved ahead of Mario Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais and Dario Franchitti for career Indy car championships, trailing only the seven that A.J. Foyt achieved.

“I don't know why (five titles) seemed much more of a milestone for me. Five doesn't sound that much more than four – it's not – but it definitely just kind of felt like I put myself into a different category.

“Last year, it was definitely a grueling season. We held on to the championship from a very early point and almost let it slip away with a couple of races to go. So it felt really good to seal that one.”

No driver has repeated as champion since Franchitti’s three-title run from 2009-11. The first of those came at the expense of Dixon, who finished 11 points behind teammate Franchitti in his bid to repeat following his 2008 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

Dixon has put up staggering numbers through his career that rival the greatest in Indy car history. He sits third on the all-time wins list with 44 out of 304 Indy car starts, which equates to a victory rate of 14.47 percent. His 105 podium finishes (third all time) means he has stood on the podium in 34.54 percent of his Indy car races.

Yet Dixon isn’t satisfied. His focus stays forward, ready to embrace further success.

“You've got to be careful not falling into complacency,” Dixon said on the eve of the 2019 opener. “Even working with the same people – I've been with this team now going into our 18th season – so it's a lot of the same. A lot of the people who have been here at this team are the same people I started with on Day 1 back in 2002.

“It's like any relationship You've got to try and keep it fresh and interesting. In motor racing, I think that can typically come quite naturally just because everything's evolving and changing quite quickly. The biggest thing for me is going to the track and making sure that I never fall into the situation of thinking I know everything because that's going to be the downfall.”

Practices for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg begin Friday (10:45 a.m. and 2:20 p.m. ET). Both stream live on INDYCAR Pass, the direct-to-consumer product from NBC Sports Gold available to subscribers. Sign up for INDYCAR Pass at the discounted yearlong price of $49.00 by March 10.

NTT P1 Award qualifying, consisting of three knockout rounds concluding with the Firestone Fast Six, starts at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and airs live on NBCSN and INDYCAR Pass. Coverage of the 110-lap race on Sunday airs on NBCSN (12:30 p.m.) and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (1 p.m.).

Live timing and scoring for all NTT IndyCar Series weekend sessions, accompanied by Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network commentary, is available at RaceControl.IndyCar.com.

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