Scott Dixon does not consider himself among the greats of IndyCar despite moving into outright second for all-time series wins.
Having been tied with Mario Andretti, Dario Franchitti, and Sebastien Bourdais, since 2015, he is now ahead of all but seven-time winner AJ Foyt in terms of most American open-wheel racing national titles.
Dixon was congratulated by Franchitti himself, the former team-mate who remains at Chip Ganassi in an advisory role, shortly after stepping out of his #9 Honda.
The 38-year-old feels privileged but does not see himself in the same strata as the legends that have gone before him.
“I don’t know. I don’t see myself that way at all,” he said.
“I feel lucky. I’m very, very blessed in many ways; racing career, to meet the love of my life with Emma, have a great family, two beautiful girls.
“I feel lucky I get to do what I love to do. I enjoy racing; I get to work with the best in the business. I don’t know, I just don’t see it that way.
“I hope that I continue for more years to come and enjoy the sport for what it is.
“When you get into these situations where there’s a lot on the line, sometimes this even weekend, you don’t really enjoy it as much.
“I think that over the past couple years we’ve really tried to enjoy the atmosphere that we’re in, the people that we get to work with, the friends and everybody in the business.
“I respect greatly AJ, Mario, Michael (Andretti), the Unsers (Al and Al Jnr), everybody in the sport, what they’ve achieved.
“I don’t know, I just feel lucky to be here.”
Dixon also said that he found it hard to relax during the dramatic finale despite knowing that his only realistic title rival, Alexander Rossi, suffered a major setback when he dropped to last on the first lap with front wing damage on his Andretti Autosport entry.
“It was a very smooth race but mentally it was tough and draining,” he recounted.
“With IndyCar racing, you think somebody that has a problem in the first corner, they tend to go on and win the race.
“I thought, ‘Oh no, I’ve been in that situation. Please, let that not be today.’
“I didn’t see that part of the start. The team came on as I exited The Carousel in Turn 6 and said, ‘There’s going to be some cars coming back in (Turn) 7 that have taken a shortcut, damaged car.’
“I could see it was Rossi. That was the first thing that clicked in; ‘Man, he’s going to have a good day, return, fix the car, have a strong strategy and come through.’
“I followed it on the pylon; I could see how he was moving up. He’s a fierce competitor. So is Michael and everybody at that team.
“We saw that those cars had tremendous speed, from (race-long leader Ryan) Hunter-Reay that was controlling the pace today.
“There was no point that I wasn’t worried about that situation.”
While born in Brisbane, Dixon remains a proud New Zealander despite spending the bulk of his time in the United States, where he has now been racing for two decades.
He joked about an unusual source of inspiration for the season finale in California’s wine country.
“We had lots of support,” said Dixon.
“I don’t know if anybody noticed on the banks with all the sheep that were around here. That’s always a good omen I think when it comes to Sonoma.
“I actually visited a few of them last night, just gave them a hello. That was all.
“I love New Zealand, it’s a special place. Actually, I’m down there I think in about four weeks. Can’t wait to get back home.”
Dixon previously won the IndyCar Series in 2003, 2008, 2013, and 2015, and is also the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner.