Scott Dixon was down on his luck after a missed opportunity meant he only finished eighth in the third-to-last race of the IndyCar season.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is vying for a record-equalling seventh championship and came to the St. Louis oval, World Wide Technology Raceway, just seven points in arrears of series leader Will Power.
The Team Penske driver had a similarly lacklustre evening, only ending up sixth in the 260-lap affair.
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Dixon bemoaned a decisive moment in the race when Team Penske duo Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin pitted under yellow on lap 148.
That dropped the pair of them to the tail end of the cars on the lead lap, leaving the lion’s share of the field – including Dixon – on track.
Shod with fresh tyres, Newgarden and McLaughlin vaulted to first and second respectively soon after the race restarted.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Dixon, who fell to third in the standings after Newgarden went on to win the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 and surge from fourth to second in the standings.
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“Average night,” said Dixon.
“We just really struggled to get on a roll. Any kind of undercut or whatever we tried we got blocked into a lapped traffic scenario.
“Definitely frustrating. We missed a valuable pit stop I think on one of the cautions which maybe would have changed it, maybe not.
“It came out okay, we’re still 14 points out of the championships and with two races to go we’re definitely in it.”
His Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou remain contenders for the title too.
The pair sit fourth and fifth respectively in the standings, although they also had lacklustre outings at the circuit dubbed Gateway.
“It was a long day for sure for us with the rain delay but finished P9 with the No.10 American Legion,” said last year’s champion Palou.
“I think we had a car for a little bit more. Things didn’t fall our way, but we’re still in the hunt.
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“The championship is really close and we’re heading to the West Coast where we were quite strong last year with chances to win.
“We need to focus on ourselves, try to win the last two races of the year and try to get this championship back home again.”
Ericsson, who finished seventh, said he still feels he is “in the mix” with two races to go.
Portland International Raceway hosts the penultimate round of the 2022 season on September 5.
The championship then comes to a close at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on September 12.
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