ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Oct. 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Honda today claimed its ninth INDYCAR Manufacturers' Championship – and third consecutive title – as Scott Dixon scored the 15th podium finish for the company this season and succeeded in earning his sixth Drivers' title, highest among all active drivers and trailing only the legendary A.J. Foyt in career championships won.
For Honda and Honda Performance Development, the company's North American racing division, today's result marks the first championship "three-peat" of titles in the 27-year history of HPD. Entering Indy car competition in 1994, Honda won its first manufacturers' title in 1996. Additional championships followed in 1998-99, 2001, 2004-05, and 2018-19.
Dixon's championship is the 17th for a Honda-powered Indy car driver, and the 11th with multi-manufacturer competition. Now a Honda Indy car team owner, Jimmy Vasser won Honda's first drivers' title in 1996. Other Honda-powered Indy car champions include Alex Zanardi (1997-98); Juan Pablo Montoya (1999); Gil de Ferran (2000-01); Tony Kanaan (2004); Dan Wheldon (2005); Sam Hornish Jr. (2006); Dario Franchitti (2007, 2009-11); and Dixon (2008, 2013, 2018, 2020).
Today's 100-lap season finale took place in hot and very humid conditions, resulting in a brief, light rain shower with approximately 20 laps remaining. Pole qualifier Will Power led the opening five laps, but was soon passed by Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi, who went on to lead a race-high 61 laps before ending his day with wall contact on Lap 74.
Other Honda-powered race leaders included Colton Herta, Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe and Alex Palou. But shortly after Rossi's crash, Herta also slid off course, leading to an 11th-place finish. Just moments later, Hinchcliffe was the next to fall victim to the tricky conditions, spinning in the final turn and then colliding with fellow Honda driver Jack Harvey as he attempted to rejoin the circuit. Both would have to pit for repairs, dropping them out of the lead pack. Palou's fuel gamble came up this a few laps shy of a podium finish, as his late stop for a splash dropped him to 13th at the checkers.
Meanwhile, after starting 11th – and needing only a top-10 finish to clinch the title – Dixon methodically worked his way to the front, moving into third on Lap 80. Combined with four wins during the 14-race season, the podium result was more than enough for Dixon to claim the title.
Next Sunday's race concludes Honda's championship-winning 2020 NTT IndyCar Series. The 2021 season gets underway March 7, with a return to the Florida Gulf Coast for the next running of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Quotes Scott Dixon(Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 11th, finished third; has won his sixth INDYCAR Drivers' Championship: "It's all the team. I can't thank everybody on this team enough. Obviously, [team owner] Chip [Ganassi], [race directors] Mike [Hull] and Barry [Wanser]; and everybody involved – Honda. I'm proud to be powered by Honda and what they've been able to pull out this year. They nailed it. Big thanks to everybody. My family – I'm glad my [daughters] and [spouse] Emma are here. I can't thank everybody enough. PNC Bank, two out of three years (as champion) – that's pretty good going."
"It's never just one thing or one person. For me, it's about the team effort. We had a lot of [internal] changes in the offseason. And we know next year is going to be the same, but huge thanks again to everyone on the team. Now we're going to have a beer."
Ted Klaus(President, Honda Performance Development) on today's season-ending race, Honda's ninth – and third consecutive – Manufacturers' Championship and Scott Dixon's sixth Drivers' Title: "Thank you 'Team HPD'. Every one of you played an important role in this historic achievement, throughout the off-season and all through this year. You executed against adversity, and never lifted off the throttle. We dominated the Indianapolis 500 and brought home the drivers' and manufacturers' championships, and that is an enormous accomplishment. To our partner teams, INDYCAR and our competitors: job well done in 2020, thank you all. We will celebrate tonight, but our next goal is to bring even more Honda power to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2021."
NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Circuit: Bayfront Park/Albert Whitted Airport (1.8-mile temporary street circuit) St. Petersburg, FL Weather: Sunny, hot, humid, 89 degrees F