Skip to content

Perspective, overcoming adversity fuels Dixon’s third IndyCar title

Oct 20, 2013, 1:16 PM EST

MAVTV 500 Getty Images

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.

Latest Posts
  1. NASCAR: Dale Jr. expects even more performance in 2015

    Dec 21, 2014, 8:00 PM EST

    Ford EcoBoost 400 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Junior speaks highly, already, of new crew chief Greg Ives.

  2. Sutil rips F1’s pay driver situation

    Dec 21, 2014, 6:30 PM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-BRA-F1-PRESSER-SUTIL Getty Images

    Ex-Sauber driver Adrian Sutil calls out F1 pay-driver situation, although it could just be a case of sour grapes.

  3. WEC: 2015 sporting regulations for series released by FIA

    Dec 21, 2014, 5:30 PM EST

    AUTO-FRA-ENDURANCE-LE MANS Getty Images

    A number of tweaks are coming for the global sports car racing series.

  4. Late wreck ends hope of top-5 finish for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in dirt track race

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:58 PM EST

    (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Going back to his dirt track roots, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished eighth in the fifth annual Great Clips Battle at the Center in DuQuoin, Ill., on Saturday.

  5. Another week, another driver wedding; this time, it’s Ty Dillon’s turn (PHOTOS)

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:00 PM EST

    Lilly Diabetes 250 Getty Images

    The XFINITY Series driver for Richard Childress Racing marries girlfriend Haley Carey.

  6. UPDATED — Highway to Hell(cat): Owner wrecks 707-hp Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat one hour after buying it

    Dec 21, 2014, 2:54 PM EST

    (Photo courtesy Facebook via MotorAuthority.com) (Photo courtesy Facebook via MotorAuthority.com)

    With just 40 less horsepower than a 2015 Sprint Cup car, the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is VERY powerful. One new Hellcat owner, who bought it just one hour earlier, found out the hard way about all that power.

  7. Top NASCAR stories of 2014: No. 10 – Kurt Busch and “The Double”

    Dec 21, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Kurt Busch AP

    The Outlaw takes on the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.

  8. NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 22 Brian Vickers

    Dec 21, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks - Practice Getty Images

    Vickers made his full-time return to Sprint Cup action in 2014, which in itself was a victory.

  9. NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 21 Paul Menard

    Dec 21, 2014, 12:26 PM EST

    (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Paul Menard had a decent season at times in 2014, but fell short of making the Chase in the final qualifying race.

  10. Empire Racing grabs 3 fastest spots in Daytona ARCA test

    Dec 20, 2014, 11:42 PM EST

    Sean Corr was the fastest driver in the two-day ARCA test at Daytona International Speedway. (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

    New York State’s Empire Racing took the three fastest spots as ARCA completed a two-day open test at Daytona International Speedway.

  11. John Force like you’ve never seen him: ‘Papa John’ the grandfather (video)

    Dec 20, 2014, 9:11 PM EST

    John force with grandsons 2014

    See NHRA great John Force like you’ve never seen him in this video, shot mainly through the eyes of his grandsons Jacob and Noah.

  12. Dick Berggren to be inducted into Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame

    Dec 20, 2014, 8:16 PM EST

    (Photo courtesy Fox Sports) (Photo courtesy Fox Sports)

    Dr. Dick Berggren will receive yet another prestigious honor in his career. He’ll be inducted into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame in April 2015.

  13. New Hampshire Motor Speedway staff gives great holiday gift: NASCAR-themed carols

    Dec 20, 2014, 7:00 PM EST

    (Robert Laberge/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The staff at New Hampshire Motor Speedway got into the holiday spirit, caroling with a unique NASCAR twist in a newly-released video.

  14. NASCAR late model driver helps brighten holiday for needy Wisconsin family

    Dec 20, 2014, 6:29 PM EST

    nascar logo 2014 Getty Images

    Matt Henderson, Henderson Motorsports, and local businesses deliver presents and gifts to family in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

  15. IndyCar that will be ‘dropped’ to usher in New Year in Indianapolis to be unveiled Monday

    Dec 20, 2014, 5:29 PM EST

    verizon indycar series logo 2014

    Times Square’s ‘ball drop’ will have nothing on Indianapolis as it lowers an Indy Car as the final seconds of 2014 tick off.

  16. Dover International Speedway names new track president

    Dec 20, 2014, 4:30 PM EST

    Credit: Dover Motorsports Credit: Dover Motorsports

    Michael Tatoian has been able to help bring additional events to the Monster Mile beyond its two NASCAR weekends.

  17. Top NASCAR Stories of 2014: No. 11 – Carl Edwards leaves Roush Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing

    Dec 20, 2014, 4:00 PM EST

    Carl Edwards (left) and Matt Kenseth, former teammates at Roush Fenway Racing, will be reunited in 2015 at Joe Gibbs Racing. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Carl Edwards was the most sought-after Sprint Cup free agent in 2014. After more than a decade with Roush Fenway Racing, Edwards announced he will be driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015.

  18. WATCH: James Stewart, Travis Pastrana compete at Red Bull Straight Rhythm (NBC, 4 p.m. ET)

    Dec 20, 2014, 3:35 PM EST

    Photo credit: Shawn Smith Photo credit: Shawn Smith

    Red Bull Straight Rhythm is a one-of-a-kind event, featuring an “unwound” supercross track and head-to-head racing. Tune in to NBC to see how it all played out.

  19. Report: Bernie Ecclestone, German bank sue each other over sale of F1 stake

    Dec 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone arrives at the High Court in central London in this file photo Reuters

    BayernLB sues Ecclestone and his family holding for 345 million Euros.

  20. NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 20 Austin Dillon

    Dec 20, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    NASCAR Sprint Cup Sylvania 300 At NH Motor Speedway Getty Images

    Dillon made a big first impression and then quietly learned the ropes in Sprint Cup.

Video from NASCAR America

NASCAR America's 2014 blooper reel
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Vickers (2038)
  2. K. Busch (1900)
  3. C. Coughlin (1768)
  4. D. Armstrong (1739)
  5. L. Cassill (1606)
  1. R. Black Jr. (1528)
  2. B. Kennedy (1385)
  3. P. Menard (1149)
  4. A. Self (1141)
  5. B. Jones (1111)