Second championship sweeter for Dixon

Scott Dixon celebrates 2nd title
Dennis Ashlock/Firestone

Five years and 80 races later, Scott Dixon secured a second IndyCar Series championship. And like the 16-race 2003 season, he battled Helio Castroneves to the end.

Dixon was a 23-year-old rookie then, who made the move – like Castroneves and fellow title challengers Tony Kanaan and Gil de Ferran – full time from CART. Dixon won three races, including the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and posted nine top-five finishes. He won the championship by 19 points.

This year, he won a series record-tying six races and led a record-setting 899 laps in a competitive field awash in veterans from the former Champ Car World Series and rookies looking to make a positive impact in the first year of unified North American open-wheel racing. The margin was 17 points.

“(This) championship means a lot more," said Dixon, who secured the title Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway with a runner-up finish to Castroneves in the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300. “I think this year is much tougher. I've said in the recent weeks that we didn't really know what we had won then. It was a rookie season for me in the (IndyCar Series) and for the team at that point as well.

“The year on a whole has been amazing, an unforgettable year. I think any year where you win the 500 is going to be like that. But when you top it off with a championship, I still can't believe it. Getting married, winning a 500, winning a championship in one year, not too many people can probably say they've done that."

Dixon’s dominating run in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car can be traced back to Richmond in June 2007, however, when he rebounded from 12th and 10th-place finishes at Iowa and Texas, respectively, to finish second.

Dixon closed out the 2007 season with seven top-two finishes in the final nine races and carried the momentum into his 2008 championship campaign, recording 12 podium finishes.

“I think after (struggling in) '04 and '05, it makes you cherish things a lot more, definitely race wins just as a whole, but a championship much more," Dixon said. “To accomplish the disciplines that we have now with short ovals, medium sized tracks, superspeedways, street courses, road courses, that looks like it's going to get stronger as well. I think you'll definitely get a true champion out of that."

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