Josef Newgarden did all he could Sunday at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in Florida, winning the race by more than four seconds, but Scott Dixon rolled home third and secured the sixth IndyCar Series championship of his stellar career.
Newgarden won at St. Pete for the second straight season in his Dallara-Chevrolet, leading the final 20 laps while holding off a late charge by Mexico's Pato O'Ward to win.
"It's definitely bittersweet," he said on the broadcast after the race. "Congrats to Scott and all the guys on his crew. They were great competitors. On one hand, I don't know what I'd do different or ask my guys to do different this year. They were flawless, fastest in the pits. We have an incredible crew and just came up short.
"We'll reset and hit them harder next year. I promise we'll be in the fight every year."
Newgarden's victory was his fourth this season for Team Penske, tying him with Chip Ganassi Racing's Dixon in his Dallara-Honda, but he came up 16 points short of the New Zealander, 537-521.
Dixon takes aim next season at A.J. Foyt, the only seven-time champion in series history.
"Six is good; seven sounds better," Dixon said after the race. "That's obviously going to be the goal. It's so tough. Credit again to the team. It was just a smooth race. That's all we did.
"Credit to Josef, he drove a hell of a race there and put us under pressure."
France's Sebastien Bourdais finished fourth, Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth on Sunday.
Newgarden seized the lead, going from third to first with 20 laps to go in the first turn with a bold move past Alex Palou and Colton Herta.
The temporary street course proved a challenge, as Alexander Rossi -- who led a race-high 61 of 100 laps -- crashed from the lead and pole-sitter Will Power of Australia also found the wall.
"Hugely unfortunate," Rossi said. "The 27 (team) guys were phenomenal. Sucks, man. First time it's happened to me to crash from the lead. I don't really know what to say.
"Sorry to the boys, and we'll come back next year."
Five of the 24 cars in the race left because of contact, and Dixon had a few anxious moments himself, but he got through it and the relief came through over the radio on the cooldown lap.
"I never doubted it, never doubted it," Dixon said on the team radio "Not with you guys. What a team. Well done. This is all you guys. Thank you."
--Field Level Media