The checkered flag fell Sunday afternoon at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, but that wasn’t the end of the drama in the Verizon IndyCar Series finale.
Juan Pablo Montoya’s now infamous “Dixon had a s*** season all year and had one good race, and we paid the penalty” quote in the post-race press conference has immediately generated headlines, and stirred up controversy.
While newly crowned four-time champion Scott Dixon didn’t directly address that quote in his own press conference at Sonoma, he did do so on Wednesday morning, and also later on NBCSN’s NASCAR AMERICA (video above).
“Obviously Juan’s gonna be very frustrated. He led the championship from the first race at St. Pete,” Dixon said.
“But to be honest, I don’t think anybody had a stellar season. Six drivers had won two races each. We ended up winning three, yes we won the most races, but it’s obviously hard for him to swallow. You’re gonna find different ways to look at it and beat it up. Double points is a hot topic.”
Without double points, Montoya would have beat Dixon, 478 to 474.
Asked about double points, Dixon said it will be something INDYCAR will need to consider in the offseason, but that all competitors knew the rules going into the season.
“You know going into the season that’s what it’s going to be. Those are the stats. Double points for the Indy 500, which is the biggest race in the world, and in the finale,” he said.
“The Verizon IndyCar Series … the competition is so tight that for 10 years in a row it’s gone down to the last race without a reset.
“I think without the double points, it wouldn’t have been close. We missed 33 bonus points for getting the Indy 500 pole this year. That gets overlooked.
“Everyone knew what it was going to be. But it is going to be a hot topic this offseason.”
In truth, while double points may be the talking point, Dixon and Montoya were actually very, very close to each other all year – neither driver assembled a so-called synonym for poor season.
Here’s some stats of note, beyond Dixon’s 3-2 win advantage that ultimately won him the title:
- Dixon led Montoya in qualifying average for all 16 races, 6.125 to 6.4375, although Montoya held an 11-5 head-to-head mark in starting positions.
- Dixon led more than double the amount of laps as Montoya, 306 to 145. Dixon led 10 races, Montoya led only 8.
- The two were nearly even in better finishing positions, with Montoya ahead 9-7 overall and 8-6 in races where both drivers finished. The one DNF Montoya had though, at Iowa, Dixon’s crew rallied to get him an 18th place result instead of 19th, and one crucial, additional point that paid dividends down the road.
- Dixon was the top qualifying driver at Chip Ganassi Racing nine times, while Montoya was the top qualifying driver at Team Penske only once. Dixon was also highest starting Ganassi driver at Detroit race two, and Montoya had the pole for both NOLA and Detroit race two, as both races started on points following rain canceling the sessions.
- Dixon was the top finishing Ganassi driver seven times, and Montoya was the top finishing Penske driver six times.