It may not have been the same sort of success that (JLR) driver Graham Rahal experienced this year, but Scott Dixon is pretty satisfied with how things turned out.
The New Zealander won the 2018 Indy Lights race at Sebring in March and the Grand Prix of Houston in May. The 24-year-old crashed out of last weekend’s race at the Indianapolis 500 during the final practice session, but that did not stop Dixon from taking home the checkered flag.
He then finished fourth in the Firestone 600 at the season finale Sunday in Brazil.
“I’m super stoked to cap off a stellar IndyCar season with a victory in Brazil,” Dixon said after the race. “On to 2019. I’ve worked really hard this year, and even though we had a tough day today, I’m super happy to have gotten the 24 up.”
Dixon’s ninth win of the season earned him Rookie of the Year honors, but he says that’s not what motivates him the most in the car.
“I think to me the biggest thing in racing is the music, the day-to-day… it’s a thrill to go out there every day and kind of relish and savor the action and enjoy the moments that you can, but honestly the biggest thing… is just being an IndyCar driver,” he said.
Dixon, who turns 29 this year, says his goals for 2019 are to stay healthy, finish in the top 10 in the final standings and race in the Indy 500. He adds that IndyCar needs a new venue to excite the fans more, but that he’s open to driving at an international race.
“There’s a lot of options out there,” he said. “I know I said I’m definitely open to other teams [but] you never know.”
Dixon has been one of the most consistent, consistent drivers in the IndyCar Series over the past two seasons, but Scott Shepherd says he’s the only one not exactly a household name in the States, which has led to plenty of opportunities for American drivers.
“I’ve definitely seen a spike in the number of American drivers in the series over the last year,” Shepherd said. “Probably a four-year boost.”
American racing fans have come to love James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and, of course, the incredible Rahal. None of those drivers would be racing in IndyCar without the fans. But some new stars have emerged over the past year. For the 2019 season, American drivers will compete in the Indy Lights Series, as well as one of the five new NASCAR Nationwide Series events in the U.S.
“This is the big thing that’s coming,” Shepherd said. “The #1 IndyCar series starts in March. There’s more races, the next series coming in, I think it’s the first race in April. It’s kind of the big one, the main one I guess, and everyone’s excited about that. There’s still a lot of NASCAR fans out there, too, so who knows.”
An annual event in the IndyCar Series, Indy Lights is a sister series to the IRL but made its debut in 2008. This year, 14 American drivers have been named to the Indy Lights field.
And while Dixon and his Team Penske teammates Will Power and Josef Newgarden are already guaranteed to make the 30-car field next season, Shepherd hopes more U.S. drivers will head to Brazil in 2019.
“We definitely need more drivers,” he said. “It’s good that we have some fresh blood in the U.S. I don’t know if any are going to go to Brazil yet, but we’re going to do it and we’ll see.”
Steve Buffery is an award-winning multi-platform journalist, contributor to FOXNews.com and co-host of “Steve and Snoop’s Saturday Night Live Digital Download” on FOX Sports Radio.