'I still can't believe it. We were such a long shot." With those words, Scott Dixon brought down the curtain on his fourth and possibly most surprising IndyCar title.

The Auckland driver never held the overall lead during the 2015 campaign, trailing Juan Pablo Montoya from the season-opening race.

And Dixon remained behind his rival until the last lap of the last race of the year at the Sonoma Raceway in California.

But by taking the chequered flag in a final round offering double points, Dixon ended the season level with Montoya on the drivers' standings. And by clinching victory in Sonoma, Dixon ended up edging Montoya on a countback after winning three races to the Colombian's two.

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Dixon entered the round trailing Montoya by 47 points, sitting in third place and looking unlikely to add to his trio of IndyCar titles.

But with the Kiwi leading the field and Montoya struggling to make up ground, Dixon and his team had their calculators out in the final stages.

"You constantly know where they are but you are trying to calculate points as well," Dixon said after the race. "If [my team] were saying nothing, I knew it was going to be extremely close but, damn, I can't believe it."

Aside from all the drama, there was nothing shocking about seeing Dixon claim the title. After winning in his debut season in 2003, the 35-year-old repeated the feat in 2008 and 2013, with this year's late surge leaving him level with Dario Franchitti for the most championships since the revamped IndyCar series started in 1996.

And Dixon's three race victories took his tally to 37 - well clear of Helio Castroneves' 23 - to further cement his legacy as one the best drivers to grace IndyCar.

• Every day this week, we have run the finalists for Sporting Achievement of the Year. The supreme winner will be announced tomorrow.

Yesterday: Lisa Carrington, Black Caps.
Wednesday: Blair Tuke and Peter Burling, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray.
Tuesday: Linda Villumsen, track cycling squad.
Monday: Kane Williamson.