Ganassi hits 10 IndyCar championships with Dixon’s title (VIDEO)

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Target Chip Ganassi Racing has hit the double digit stratosphere.

The team captured its 10th IZOD IndyCar Series championship Saturday night courtesy of Scott Dixon, and the fifth since Team Penske won its last one in 2006 (2008 through 2011).

It’s also the last for Ganassi with Honda, for now at least, as the team shifts to Chevrolet in 2014. Interestingly Ganassi won a title with Honda in 1999, a year before switching to Toyota in the CART ranks in 2000.

Per the eponymous team owner, this one was made all the sweeter by how resilient the team was in the face of adversity earlier this year.

“This one’s pretty special, I have to say, considering how our season started,” Ganassi said. “The fact Scott Dixon did it. We had a tough, tough beginning of the season. We had a tough Indy 500. We had a tough mid-season. Obviously Honda turned it around at Pocono. Ups and downs all season. Losing my father at one point. That took a lot of wind out of my sails. Then of course the Sonoma incident and the Baltimore incident.

“We had a lot of things – these guys never, never gave up. These guys don’t know the word ‘give up.’”

Managing director Mike Hull said Dixon’s car nearly didn’t survive the overheating caused by debris chunks entering the radiator.

“I’d have to say as hot as the engine got, Honda did what we wanted them to do what they wanted to do, and that was build an engine that didn’t break under severe conditions,” he said.

Ganassi reflected lastly on winning this championship in a year when he lost his father, Floyd.

“I’m sure he’s up there smiling down on us right now,” Ganassi said, holding back tears. “He was a big part of my career and my life. You always see people in positions like this saying, I wish my mom or dad were here. I know what that feels like here.”

F1 2017 driver review: Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 2
Podiums (excluding wins): 2
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 168
Laps Led: 133
Championship Position: 6th

Max Verstappen rise as a once-in-a-generation talent continued through the 2017 Formula 1 season, even if reliability issues meant we were made to wait for his best form to arrive.

Verstappen stole the show in a wet-dry Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th to seventh in the opening lap before ultimately finishing third for Red Bull, yet he would not grace the podium again until the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of October.

A combination of power unit problems and on-track clashes saw Verstappen retire from seven of the 12 races in the intermittent period, with incidents in Spain and Austria being avoidable.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was his stoppage due to a power unit failure in front of a grandstand swathed in orange at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race tens of thousands of Dutch fans had attended to cheer Verstappen on.

But when Verstappen got things right, it was – as he frequently quoted – simply, simply lovely. There was plenty left in the tank, as proven by his sheer domination of the races in Malaysia and Mexico as he took the second and third wins of his career.

Perhaps even more impressive was Verstappen’s victory over Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the qualifying head-to-head battle this year, an area the Australian has traditionally been strong in. Verstappen outqualifed his teammate 13-7 – it wasn’t even close…

All in all, Verstappen once again proved that on his day, he is one of the finest talents to grace F1 in recent years. With the right car underneath him next year, a title fight is certainly possible and will be the target – but there is always room for improvement.

And that is the scary part: Verstappen is only going to get better and better.

Season High: Dominating in Malaysia after an early pass on Lewis Hamilton.

Season Low: Crashing out on Lap 1 in Austria.