Oct 20, 2013, 1:16 PM EDT
For Scott Dixon, a third IndyCar championship was always a question of “when,” not “if.”
The obvious storyline for the driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda is that it follows his “rule of fives,” having taken his first crown in 2003 and his second in 2008.
“I hope (Chip) doesn’t lay me off for four years then I’ll come back on the fifth,” Dixon deadpanned in the media center after the race.
But this one comes after fighting through adversity all season, compared to a five-car shootout in 2003 and a dominant 2008 season where nearly everything that could go right for Dixon did.
In 2003, Dixon beat Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran, Andretti Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan and Panther Racing’s Sam Hornish Jr. in a crapshoot at Texas, a race marred by a last-lap accident where Kenny Brack’s car got airborne and went into the backstraight catch fencing there. It muted the celebrations even though Brack recovered from his injuries.
Meanwhile in 2008, Dixon won six races, including his thus far only Indianapolis 500, and beat Castroneves again for the title. He also tied the knot to his lovely wife, Emma.
“My perspective is different now,” said Dixon, who’s driven with Ganassi since midway through 2002. “When I was 22 or 23 to what I understand now is totally different. The competitiveness of this series has gone through the roof since the ’08 merger (of INDYCAR and Champ Car).
“But ’08 was a dream year. I got married. We won the Indy 500 and championship. It’s a hard year to beat. Midseason this year, we didn’t think we had a shot.”
Indeed various setup pitfalls and a struggle to adapt the car to this year’s Firestone tires at the outset made things a bit more difficult. A midseason surge of three straight wins in eight days (Pocono and Toronto twice) followed, but then back-to-back disasters at Sonoma and Baltimore left him 49 points back of Castroneves heading into Houston.
“The changes were a bit sporadic I think,” Dixon explained at championship media day on Thursday. “The 2012 tire was better for myself and Will (Power), where we like a loose car, but I think (Firestone) compensated for the rear of the car this year. The Sebring test was huge. We identified some issues from St. Pete … it was mostly the street and bumpy circuits. But to turn that development program around, with only one of our six test days, it took a while to get the real world stuff going to where we needed to go. That and the engine spec change at Pocono was huge.”
Now as champion, Dixon will have to carry the IndyCar banner. It’s not a burden, per se, but Dixon’s more known as something of a silent assassin – not overly vocal but absolutely dynamic on a race track.
Still, the Dixon now compared to the Dixon of either 2003 or 2008 is a better individual. He’s a father now, with Tilly and Poppy growing up and beginning to appreciate their father’s achievements. He’s got a great heart, for all his and his family’s support and care for the Wheldons since Las Vegas, 2011. And at the track, he has a great penchant for dry wit and humor and rarely misses the chance for a good one-liner.
Whether that translates to the public sphere beyond the borders of the IndyCar paddock remains to be seen.
“I’ve spoken out a bit more recently now than I used to … but not about stats or results,” he joked last night, paying tribute to his $30,000 fine for comments after Baltimore.
“I think when it’s said and done, and I can look back and say we achieved this, that’s the time for that,” he added. “I love racing. I love waking up and training for it.
“I think I think I have evolved as a person from the 2003 championship. And right now, it’s very important for the sport especially. First and foremost, it’s about being a competitor, best I can. Very important that IndyCar gets the recognition it deserves. It is at the elite level.”
And Dixon’s performance in 2013 – through trials and tribulations – was indeed an elite effort.
Aug 27, 2014, 11:03 PM EDT
It’s pretty simple and straight-forward what Jamie McMurray must do in the next two races if he has any hope of making this year’s expanded 16-driver field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Aug 27, 2014, 6:19 PM EDT
On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Jeff Burton spoke with Rick Allen and Frank Stoddard about the spectacle of racing at Bristol and just how difficult Joey Logano’s victory at the half-mile oval was.
Aug 27, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT
NASCAR driver jeff Burton says there has been no word yet from Tony Stewart on whether the latter will return to the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet this weekend at Atlanta after missing the last three races due to the Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy, but it could be a last-minute decision.
Aug 27, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ Turner Scott Motorsports team was reportedly set to close; however, that appears to have changed.
WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 pm ET — Burton on replacing Stewart, Logano’s Bristol win, Atlanta look ahead
Aug 27, 2014, 4:11 PM EDT
Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America will be chock full of looking back at Saturday’s race at Bristol, as well as starting our lookahead over the next three days for this Sunday’s night race at Atlanta.
Aug 27, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
IndyCar will formally confirm the addition of New Orleans to its 2015 schedule later Wednesday.
Aug 27, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
NASCAR Trucks race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park this weekend. Will they be able to match up with the 2013 edition?
Aug 27, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Skeleton Bronze medalist Matt Antoine goes for two-seater ride with Arie Luyendyk in Milwaukee.
Aug 27, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
Scott Hargrove looks to secure Porsche GT3 Canada title while his season-long rival in both Porsche and Pro Mazda, Spencer Pigot, looks to play spoiler.
Aug 27, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Jeff Gordon will make his 750th Sprint Cup start at Atlanta this weekend, the site of his first in 1992, and also the site of another record he’ll hit next year.
Aug 27, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
Sebastian Vettel’s getting a new chassis for Monza, and a new engineer for 2015 at Red Bull.
Aug 27, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT
With Fontana this weekend, we take a look back at Gil de Ferran’s closed course speed record in 2000.
Aug 27, 2014, 11:24 AM EDT
Promotional poster for the COTA FIA WEC event features some rather bizarre car choices to promote the race.
Aug 27, 2014, 1:23 AM EDT
MotorSportsTalk sorts out fact from fiction regarding the yet-to-be-revealed 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, based on hints from today’s NASCAR schedule release.
Aug 26, 2014, 10:41 PM EDT
NASCAR star Kevin Harvick has never been afraid to speak his mind. But the Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy has caused him to be more judicious in what he says and also “frustrated” at how the media has dealt with the entire incident.
Aug 26, 2014, 8:51 PM EDT
The long-awaited release of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule was much less of the surprise many expected. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Aug 26, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Brad Keselowski won his first Camping World Truck Series race last Thursday at Bristol, but his and two other teams have been dinged by NASCAR after their Trucks failed post-race height requirements.
Aug 26, 2014, 7:06 PM EDT
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president of racing operations, explains the factors that influence how the final racing schedule is created.
Aug 26, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT
The NASCAR AMERICA crew make their initial observations of the 2015 Sprint Cup docket (Hint: They’re really happy about Darlington returning to Labor Day weekend).
Aug 26, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT
NBC Sports Group begins its 2015 NASCAR race coverage on July 4th (Nationwide) and 5th (Sprint Cup) from Daytona International Speedway.
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