May 22, 2014, 6:12 PM EDT
Since winning his first Indianapolis 500 in 2008, Scott Dixon has come close on multiple occasions to becoming a two-time winner of the world’s greatest race.
He finished a disappointing 14th in last year’s ‘500’, but from 2009 to 2012, the New Zealander collected a sixth, two fifths, and a runner-up. He also led 199 laps in that time span.
However, the defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion doesn’t think the Indianapolis Motor Speedway owes him one for his many near-misses on Indy win No. 2.
“It’s one of the toughest races in the world and that’s why everybody comes here to try and defeat it,” Dixon said today at IMS. “We were lucky enough to win here in ’08 and obviously, [teammate Tony Kanaan won] last year. Whether there’s any more, we’ll have to wait and see.
“But you only have to lead one lap here and that’s the last one.”
Dixon and Kanaan are two of the sport’s biggest stars on one of the sport’s biggest teams, Target Chip Ganassi Racing. However, both men enter Indy flying under the radar; Dixon’s had an up-and-down start to his title defense (one podium in four races), while Kanaan’s best finish so far is a sixth in March’s season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida.
Then in qualifying last weekend, the ‘Bullseye Boys’ missed out on the Fast Nine shootout for the pole position. They were able to get it together on the second day, but they’ll have some work to do on Sunday as Dixon rolls off 11th and Kanaan starts 16th.
“We didn’t do too well in qualifying, but we got to know and understand why that happened, and on the second day of qualifying, I think we ended up with the third-fastest speed,” Dixon said.
“The race cars have generally been very good, and we seemed to look pretty strong on Monday, our last session. I think we’re in a good situation, but in this place, you never really know.”
Another challenge that Dixon must contend with is the draft-heavy style of racing that has taken hold at Indianapolis in recent years. Last year’s 68 lead changes (a new race record) made for a wild show, and Dixon expects a similar outing on Sunday.
“I think it’s the style of this car and the unfortunate part is that it’s pack racing at Indy, which I don’t think is a good situation,” he said. “Last year was a bit funny too because nobody wanted to lead and everyone was trying to save fuel – so it was great for the show and great for the fans.
“This year, we’ll probably see the same thing. We may see five or six cars try to split away from the main pack just to get some distance but it depends on who you’re working with and hopefully you’re in that situation. And hopefully, all four of our [Chip Ganassi Racing] cars can get up there, get in line, and try to get away a little bit.”
NBCSN will air LIVE Indianapolis 500 Carb Day coverage tomorrow at 11 a.m. ET. The broadcast will also be streamed via NBC Sports Live Extra for online/mobile devices.