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Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing - Q&A
8 July 2013
It's not been the best of seasons for Chip Ganassi Racing. By the powerhouse team's usual standard of success in the IZOD IndyCar Series this has been a forlorn season for them so far as their three drivers went winless for the first half of the year.
But the Pocono IndyCar 400 on Sunday afternoon changed all that, with Scott Dixon leading his team mates home in a never-before-seen Ganassi 1-2-3 podium sweep that put the smiles back on the faces of all concerned. Afterwards, Dixon spoke to the media about how they'd done it.Q:
We are joined by our race winner, Scott Dixon. This is Scott's 30th IndyCar win, which gives him with sole ownership of 10th an the all‑time win list. This is the 100th win for Target and 200th for Honda. Scott, talk about today's race and the important milestones.Scott Dixon:
Yeah, the milestones are great, but I think the first person I saw when I got out of the car was Chip and I said to him, you know, this morning, I didn't think we would be sitting here.
To say the least, it was a little bit of a shock. I knew the car was good. We just weren't really sure about our pace. We kind of went out there aggressively. We trimmed the car quite a bit, and just hoped that we would be able to at least hang with them and on the pit stops, maybe have a better stop and better fuel mileage, and the fuel mileage was massive. Something that we didn't expect to see as much, but I think the Chevys, looking at a lot of them on the grid, had a lot of downforce and a lot of drag on their car, so I think that helped our cause, as well.
You know, excited for the team. It's been a rough year for us, for Team Target, and also for HPD. We have had sort of small parts of goodness but not the consistency that we have been used to. I think when we have had good cars, we've maybe had an engine problem and when we've had good engines, we've had a bit of a car problem.
So it's nice to get back. Obviously to have the team sweep at the podium is fantastic. Approaching the year anniversary of my last win, so it was nice to get one out of the way this year and get back on the top spot of the podium. I think more importantly, super excited for the team.
Everybody has been working extremely hard and to have a glimpse of something great and some things to be positive about, hopefully we can keep this momentum rolling.Q:
Before the race you had an engine change, was it a new one or one you had used in testing?Scott Dixon:
No, the engine change we actually did right after the first day, which was scheduled. We were just shy by a hundred miles or so on the other. So it was more of a precautionary thing that we didn't want to be running massive miles on the last engine to get through the race. So, yeah, we had it in when we started.Q:
When I was here in this room in August last year, Jeff Gordon had won and I asked him, what's the win like, and he said, you never know when your next win is going to come, and he really was savoring it. Can you talk a little about the feeling and about momentum; is there that monkey off your back? What's the feeling right now?Scott Dixon:
Yeah, you know, we hoped that's the case. I think we know the issues and why we have been struggling a little bit. We have not had dominance as some of the other teams. I think what you've got to look at is that when we have equal equipment to all the other teams out there, our record is pretty damn good.
We maybe got a little lax in some areas and some other people, as well, so I think we are definitely pushing as much as possible. But when you get in these tough moments, yeah, you think, well, maybe I won't win another race. But you know, when you are with a good team and you've had a good sort of track record before, it's just great to work things out and make sure that you can get back into the groove of things.
For me, it's the first time I had ever been to the circuit. I had obviously seen it many times on TV and watched Cup races, as well, but to come here for the first time, just the sheer size of the track, seems bigger than Indy, I don't know why; maybe with so many grandstands around it, but turn one is fantastic.
And the support that we had here today for the first time back, the fans and everybody that were out here were knowledgeable people; and people from the Watkins Glen area and some of the other racetracks and Nazareth where I got my first win, you know, five years ago or something silly.
So excited, super excited and just hope that we can, as I say, carry this momentum and have some more great results.Q:
Seems that July and August is when you hit your stride, especially with Mid‑Ohio coming up in a couple weeks. What is it about this time of year when it gets real hot and humid and you just seem to shine?Scott Dixon:
I don't know. Obviously it's the first time we've been here, so it's not a traffic preference thing. I hope that at Mid‑Ohio we have our typical tendency to do well here.
Super excited for next week, and Toronto also is going to create some great racing. And we had a pretty decent run at Detroit even with all the problems that we had. I don't know; I wish we started the year a little more positive and we wouldn't have to work so hard in the summer months. But I think that we have a lot of good racetracks coming up.
Helio has still got a sizable lead in the championship. We are 65 or so points or so out off the lead, sitting at fourth. I think to make second is definitely achievable, but to start making some serious in‑roads on Helio, we need him to have a couple of bad races here. Not wishing any bad luck on him, but that's what we will need.
Considering the crazy and poor results we've had throughout the year, it's still astonishing that we are fourth in the championship.Q:
Dario talked a little about how surprised he was when he would see the other guys pitting and he was getting such great fuel mileage. What was your reaction when you saw maybe the same thing?Scott Dixon:
Yeah, you know, sometimes on the radio, your team will play with that a little bit. You know, just because the other teams are always scouting you, and when I started to see some of the other teams pit, and Mike (Hull) is going, yeah, another seven laps; I'm like, yeah, he's just turning the other teams on a little bit. And then I looked down at my actual tank number and I'm like, wow, yeah, we can go another seven laps.
So I think we were beating the majority of them. I think Will was probably the closest Chevy to us on fuel mileage. He was sort of pitting maybe a lap in front (ph) us or a couple, some were three or four. We saw that pretty early on, probably after the second stint.
The first stint, you're not really ever sure how accurate it is, but once we got running there, two and three, we knew we had a pretty sizable advantage. And I think it kind of hit them a little bit late to make corrections. Then started with one stint and a half to go, they started to save fuel drastically. It's a lot easier to save fuel over, you know, 150 laps than try and save it all about 30. They knew they were in trouble and they were probably hoping for a caution to try to even things out at that point. Even at the end there, they had to pit so early, that they couldn't run full fuel at the end where we could run full fuel the whole race.Q:
While you were not luckily involved in what went on in pit road today, there was an incident on pit road today; now that you've had a full 400‑mile race to experience going in and out of the hot pits and pit stops, would you like to see some modifications to pit in and out?Scott Dixon:
I didn't see what happened in the pit lane. It looked like it was quite a ways down, so probably nothing to do with the entry and exits.
No, I think today, as long as people are courteous enough and not being idiots out there. I think you definitely get backed up a little bit where you're sort of getting somebody in the middle of one or somebody that's coming in the middle of three, but it's the same for everybody. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn't.
No, you know, I think if we use the spare lane on the inside of the track, it's very narrow and it's probably quite slippery and you still have draft to go across and you have people pushing to go in there and maybe spin on the drafts and actually end up on the track sideways. So I think the way it is, you know, it definitely keeps you on your toes and it's pretty exciting. I don't see that there needs to be any changes.Q:
At one point in the race Tony (Kanaan) passed you for the lead and his wing clipped your tyre; did you feel that?Scott Dixon:
I didn't know anything about it. I could see him being really close, so I kind of, you know, breathed a little bit, and that must have been when it happened going into one, is the only time I can think of it.
And then when he started to have trouble ‑‑ which was actually probably a lap and a half later. How bad that was, I have no idea. Maybe that was a little bit of missed timing. I figured he was going down there, so I breathed a little bit and I think we just touched each other. I didn't feel it in the car and I didn't know until the team told me several laps later.Q:
I know as you guys look at the schedule for next year or this year, you look at the tracks and you think, I like that one, I don't like that one, that one is okay. Now that you've won here, your first time; when you look at the schedule and see Pocono, what are you going to think? How was it today out there compared to other tracks?Scott Dixon:
Yeah, you know, I'll give you a little bit of background to that. I think typically IndyCar has taken away the tracks that I like, Watkins Glen, Nashville, Kansas, a lot of tracks that we have dominated at. So I'm glad to see this track on the calendar, a track that we came here and had a great race today.
I think that we have got to go to these circuits where there's a great fan base here, very knowledgeable fans. And for us, for me, I don't know how the others feel, but I love the circuits. It's very challenging and it's very different, and you have to be good in both one and three, as opposed to just sort of just getting on a run. Yeah, I'll always be excited to come back to Pocono for sure.Q:
Dario was asked that he has 31 wins and you have 30, you and made the comment about going further. I saw your first win over at Nazareth, and now your win here at Pocono; are you going to be the triangle king?Scott Dixon:
You know, I don't know. I think, you know, for us, every racetrack we come to on every weekend, all we want to do is win. So that's how approach it. There's circuits that you know you like a little bit more than others. Maybe some you dislike a little bit.
But I think that we have a great mix throughout the season. It's great to be adding ovals instead of getting away from them. I think oval is very important to the heritage and history of IndyCar and where it sort of came from. I love the mix that we have and hopefully next year we can add another one or two to the calendar.
But yeah, obviously Nazareth is quite a tricky little track and it's a shame that that's gone away, and Pocono is obviously like a Nazareth but on major steroids. It's a great circuit and as I said, I really hope that it stays on the calendar for a long time.Q:
How important is it for you to be the driver that gave Honda another win? I'm sure T.E. has a couple facilities he wants to visit in the next couple of days.Scott Dixon:
I can't wait for the bonus I get, right, T.E.? Must be a pretty big bonus for that one (chuckling).
I think the milestones are good, and we've been sitting on that 100th Target one for quite some time and obviously Honda have made a good dent in their 200th earlier this year.
It does mean a lot. It's special. I haven't been a Honda all my career but the time I've had with them has been fantastic. We've gone through ups and downs and won a lot of things together, and my biggest races have been won with Honda. Obviously love working with them and great group of people, and to be at that milestone with them is fantastic for me.
So you know, let's move on to 300 I guess.Q:
Speaking of milestones, this is your 30th victory so one more victory, seeing you beat Dario to the next chequered flag will tie you along with Bourdais and Paul Tracy. Can you talk about that?Scott Dixon:
You know, it's ‑‑ I don't know. As I said, I think we treat each race weekend as its own, and you know, stat‑stuff are great to look back on, but for me, right now it's just trying to get the maximum that we can. It would be great to look back and think that's a lot more than 30 or 31. But you know, it's been, for me, 29 of those wins have been with this team.
Dario has been doing it a little bit longer, and hopefully I can continue a little bit longer. No, it's exciting, and to be on the list of names that we are sort of encroaching on is for myself and Dario and Bourdais, it's very exciting. There's some massive legends out there, people I've looked up to my whole career, and to be on a list not far from them is pretty exciting.Q:
You talked at the beginning about how tough a year it's been; how have you endured to get to this point?Scott Dixon:
I don't know, take it on the chin. Take it race by race. I think for me in some ways, I think we have been in some slumps before in '04 and '05, different circumstances, different pieces of the pie.
You know, going through those years, that's where I did most of my growing and understanding what you need to achieve and how you need to approach it. If you can do 100 per cent, then there's nothing really for yourself to look back on and know that maybe deep down with yourself, as long as everybody you're working with and everybody around you are giving 100 per cent, that's all you can ask for, and if you keep doing that, things will get better.
It has been a tough year. We've had some great races and we've had a lot of bad ones. That's motor racing, man. There's ups and downs and sometimes things are out of your control, but I'm very, very lucky to be doing what I'm doing. I love racing, and to say that's my job, you know, I'm pretty lucky, that's all I can say.Q:
Thank you so much for your time. Congratulations on the win.Transcript courtesy IZOD IndyCar Series. FastScripts by ASAP Sports.