Skip to content

Q&A: Scott Dixon on his 2013 IndyCar title

Nov 4, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

MAVTV 500 Getty Images

Scott Dixon embarked on a two-day media tour in New York City last week after winning the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship. I had the chance to speak with Scott in a phone interview to reflect on the season, and his goals as champion.

MotorSportsTalk: Can you speak first on the different eras of your titles, with the multiple chassis/engines in ’03, the single-spec Dallara-Honda in ’08, and now the DW12-Honda/Chevy era we’re in now. Has this current era leveled the playing field and how much harder is it to emerge victorious from this field?

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah I think the competition is still intense. The first year, with different cars, engine manufacturers, and all ovals at that point, I was 22-23 that season and to win the championship was unexpected. We were fast but had a lot of mechanical DNFs, five or six. The consistency was a lot tougher to achieve in 2003. The cars were really fun to drive, and they still are now but slightly different. That year, we hadn’t really understood what we’d achieved.

Of course ’08 was a storybook year. February got married, won the (Indianapolis) 500 in May, the championship in September and it was the first year of the merger (with Champ Car), so straight up it was definitely tougher. We won six races, almost lost the championship at the last race, but it was clearly a fun year. It was something that doesn’t happen too often.

This year, we never really knew if we were in it. We were eighth going into Indy but the run at Pocono and Toronto was huge. Sonoma and Baltimore were tough. Going into Fontana, you hoped you didn’t have same issue that Helio (Castroneves) had with his mechanical at Houston. Their combination would be very strong at Fontana. Hold on with teeth clenched the whole time. When we did clinch, it was pretty sweet.

MST: You raced Helio for the title and besides him, who did you enjoy racing with most this year?

SD: In the latter part of season, it was definitely Will (Power). We had a lot of close races, but we battled up front a lot. I think if you look at Sonoma, Baltimore, Houston, our cars were fantastic and we could gap the field. Those two cars were the stand outs. It’s always fun to race Dario (Franchitti) too, but the last part of the season, we were fighting for a title and Will wasn’t, so we still had to make the gains and the points. The racing was full-on.

MST: That being said, you and Will obviously had your moments during that run. With the month off between Baltimore and Houston, did that help calm you down or did you wish there had been another race the next week?

SD: Yeah I think when you’re on a roll with speed and you have a competitive car – I mean we still had good momentum – you want to get straight back to the track. That’s about how it always is. I love the back-to-back races. It can get a bit grueling and if you’re down and out it can be a bit frustrating. But, it was somewhat nice to have a week to clear the air, think about what went on, and figure out how to better the situation. For me the situation was just wanting to get back, and I did do the GRAND-AM race the next weekend at Laguna so that helped.

MST: Looking past the wins for a moment, what races do you feel were missed opportunities and were there ones were you felt you overachieved?

SD: I think St. Pete was the tough one. It was a definite eye-opener after offseason testing coming into first race, because qualifying straight up in 20th is not what we expected. We didn’t overachieve necessarily but we did a great race to pull fifth, and just managed that.

The one that disappointed me the most this year was Mid-Ohio. The car was good but we picked the wrong strategy and switched too late. Long Beach, we missed there as well. Brazil, our car was decent but had a bit of trouble there.

One of the funnest races was Detroit. We had the incident in Race 1 with (AJ) Allmendinger going over the back of us, going to the back and racing all the way to fourth spot, was very cool. Then the way Race 2 shook out, we were off strategy, but still managed another decent place.

MST: You’ve been with Target Chip Ganassi Racing now 12 years, since 2002. How have you survived and thrived as long as you have within this organization?

SD: It’s bred into it, man. It’s such a fun team to be involved with. There’s not a huge amount of politics – there are some in every team – but it’s straight up wanting to win. They give you the tools, an engineer, a driver, and you get their best. You can make it happen. It’s the winning atmosphere at the team, upper management to the teams. It’s a fun environment. We forget that we’re out here getting to do something we absolutely love and really enjoy it. We have achieved a lot between Dario and myself over five years, and some great stats.

MST: Two people that have to stand out are Mike Hull, your team manager on your radio, and crew chief Ricky Davis. Can you speak a bit about the dynamic you have with them?

SD: Mike’s a good friend, and that’s the great thing for having 12 years here is building and developing relationships. They’re family. Mike’s been here all but two years on my car, I think except the Darren Manning/(Ryan) Briscoe era (2004-’05) when they came in. We all have the same goals. There’s no alternative situations that people are trying to achieve.

Mike and I, we really work well off each other with banter. He can keep me going or work me up and vice versa. But it’s good to have a calm voice if it’s a bit chaotic. Sometimes he gets wound up. There were a few circumstances this year when it happened. He’s a key part of the operation and Chip’s very lucky to have him.

Ricky’s a solid guy. Been there from the word go once I started my second or third year with the team, after I’d been at PacWest. He works well with the guys, and he’s hugely competitive as well.

MST: How do you rate the years of your teammates Dario and Charlie (Kimball)?

SD: Charlie has come on, leaps and bounds, to get where he is now. Especially with how he did it at Mid-Ohio. They knuckled down, and he raced his way to the front at such a challenging place. Then Fontana the last race, he was driving to win. You could see it. Pocono he gave us a bloody tough run for the win too. It’s good to have great teammates. They all do something a little different. Charlie’s been a huge addition.

Dario had a good year; he won the most poles so he was as quick as he ever was. Some of the races and strategy didn’t go how you like. But he’s always solid, pushes me to the max, and we work extremely well together. He’s one of the best teammates anyone could have.

MST: You now have the role, as champion, of “carrying the torch” as an IndyCar ambassador more or less. What are some things you’d like to do or accomplish over this offseason?

SD: For us it’s just getting us out there in the public eye. We need to do more events and cross into different genres, whether it’s football promotions, tennis or whatever. It’s tougher now because for me, I grew up working on my car and changing things on it as a kid. But in the real world today, kids are into electronics and you don’t see the “boy racer” as much as you used to.

You need to know how the trends are going, and I think IndyCar needs to work on that a lot. Our racing product is not the issue. It’s getting it into the public eye, and seeing how good it is.

MST: Your sponsor, Target, made some memorable and legendary ads back in the ’90s; is that something you could see them bringing back?

SD: Yeah man the Target ads were great, and we did some in the early 2000s when I joined up. It’s trying to make sure it’s valuable for everyone. But the topical ones with Jimmy Vasser and (Alex) Zanardi, everybody loves. I hope it’s on the horizon, and Target’s always pushing with all the billboards and stuff throughout North America.

Latest Posts
  1. Massa still adamant that Germany crash was not his fault

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Race Getty Images

    Brazilian driver compares it to incident at the beginning of the Australian Grand Prix with Kamui Kobayashi.

  2. Bernie Ecclestone confirms Mexican GP for 2015

    Jul 24, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany Getty Images

    Formula 1 will return to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez next year for the first time since 1992.

  3. 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

    Jul 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    One final chapter to the first half of the 2014 F1 season at the Hungaroring this weekend, a track that has suited Lewis Hamilton very well over the years.

  4. IndyCar: Nearly the entire field set for Mid-Ohio test today

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 At Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Six teams, 17 cars set to test at Mid-Ohio ahead of IndyCar race there next week.

  5. Bubba Wallace dominates to win MudSummer Classic at Eldora (updated)

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

    Darrell Wallace Jr. AP

    Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. and Kyle Larson put on a spectacular battle in the final 40-lap segment of Wednesday’s second MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, but it was Wallace holding on for the win.

  6. Bubba Wallace still in the lead going into final 40-lap segment of MudSummer Classic at Eldora

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:19 PM EDT

    (AP Photo/Butch Dill) AP

    Darrell Wallace Jr. continues to lead after 110 laps (at the time of a second and final mandatory competition caution) in Wednesday night’s MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway.

  7. Bubba Wallace leads after first of three segments in MudSummer Classic at Eldora

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:42 PM EDT

    BubbaEld1 Getty Images

    At the end of the first segment of Wednesday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, it’s Darrell Wallace Jr. in the lead.

  8. All heat results from MudSummer Classic at Eldora

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:18 PM EDT

    mudsummer classic logo

    For those of you keeping score at home, here’s the results of all five heat races and the “last chance” race prior to Wednesday night’s second annual MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway.

  9. Kurt Busch 25th in Sprint Cup points — IndyCar, too

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT

    kurt busch indy car 2 AP

    Thanks to a statistical quirk, Kurt Busch is ranked in the same place in the points standings in both the Sprint Cup Series and Verizon IndyCar Series.

  10. NASCAR America: Almirola and Hornish on what makes the Brickyard 400 so important

    Jul 23, 2014, 6:52 PM EDT

    hornish at newton win

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Aric Almirola and Sam Hornish Jr. discussed some of the biggest wins of their careers and talk about the importance of the Brickyard 400 on the NASCAR calendar.

  11. NASCAR America: Richard Petty Motorsports in the Chase

    Jul 23, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT

    AlmirolaDIS1 Getty Images

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA, 2014 Coke Zero 400 winner Aric Almirola took a look at the Chase for the Sprint Cup grid and also evaluated Richard Petty Motorsports’ performance through the first 19 races of the 2014 season.

  12. NASCAR America Minute: Brickyard 400 is ‘a big deal’

    Jul 23, 2014, 6:37 PM EDT

    nascar america

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA, Aric Almirola and Sam Hornish Jr. previewed Sunday’s 21st running of the Brickyard 400 at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  13. Erik Jones takes first career Truck pole — and does it in first time racing on dirt — for MudSummer Classic at Eldora

    Jul 23, 2014, 6:27 PM EDT

    erik jones wins ncwts at iowa AP

    Before Wednesday, the only dirt Erik Jones ever raced on was back in the tiny rural town he grew up in, little Byron, Mich., population 561. On two feet, too. But that didn’t stop Jones from winning the pole for tonight’s MudSummer Classic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway.

  14. Reggie Wayne shows up to Colts camp in a two-seater IndyCar

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    WayneCarp AP

    Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne, healthy, rides into training camp as a passenger in a two-seater IndyCar driven by Ed Carpenter.

  15. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA – Special 6 pm ET start time with Almirola, Hornish, Eldora highlights

    Jul 23, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT

    140723-nascar-america-site

    Hey there, NASCAR AMERICA is back! After a brief vacation just like the Sprint Cup drivers enjoyed during the last off-weekend of the 2014 season, we’re back in the studio and at the shops, ready to give you the latest news in the world of NASCAR.

  16. Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney fastest in Eldora Truck practices

    Jul 23, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    Austin Dillon won the inaugural MudSummer Classic race at Eldora Speedway in 2013. (Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney recorded the top speeds in the two practice sessions for Wednesday night’s second annual MudSummer Classic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway.

  17. Highlights of IndyCar’s Honda Indy 2 in Toronto (VIDEO)

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    ConwayTOR3 AP

    Video highlights from the Honda Indy 2 in Toronto on Sunday.

  18. IMSA: Sage Karam joins CGR lineup at IMS

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Karam01 Getty Images

    Sage Karam fills in for Memo Rojas at IMS for the TUDOR Championship race this weekend.

  19. NASCAR: Logano interview makes one young writer’s dream come true

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    LoganoAT Getty Images

    University student gets to interview Joey Logano at New Hampshire, and fortuitous timing before his day ended early due to contact with Morgan Shepherd.

  20. NASCAR: Mudsummer Classic at Eldora looks for a solid sequel

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:43 AM EDT

    The CarCash Mudsummer Classic Getty Images

    Eldora Truck race tonight seeks to be as good as the original.