Scott Dixon wasn't thinking about tying the IndyCar Series' victory record during the closing laps of the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night as he had the more pressing problem of keeping Target Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Dario Franchitti behind him.
Dixon remained the leader following a lap 260 restart and went on to win by 0.3109secs, adding a second victory at the 0.75-mile D-shaped oval to that which he took in 2003 and claiming his third victory of the season. Of greater note, however, was the fact that the 19th win of his career tied Sam Hornish Jr for the all-time IndyCar Series record.
"Achievements like that are something you can look back at someday and treasure," admitted Dixon, who's embroiled in a points battle at the mid-point of the season, "There will be many years in my career, hopefully, that I can try to build on that. But there are a lot of people like TK [Tony Kanaan] and Helio [Castroneves] that are pretty close, so I'll have to stick at it for a long time to try to keep that going."
Kanaan has 13 IndyCar Series career victories to his name, while Castroneves currently has 16, and appears better placed than his Brazilian countryman to challenge Dixon for the record this season. Dan Wheldon, the 2005 series champion, is next in the order with 15 victories, but is running with the now unfancied Panther Racing team - ironically, the team with which three-time series champion Hornish began piling up his wins. Now in NASCAR, his 2000-07 IndyCar career contained 116 starts with Panther and Penske, with his 19th win coming at Texas Motor Speedway in June 2007.
"It's pretty cool to be in that position," said Dixon, whose 19 wins in 104 events is two under Hornish's tally when he reached the mark, "I know Sam really well. He's a fantastic driver and definitely had this series captured many years ago when he was first in here. And to leave on the note he did - with the 500 and a championship - was pretty special as well. I'd definitely like one more [win] so we can have that record outright though."
This week's Camping World Grand Prix could be conducive to accomplishing that, as Dixon has won three of the four IndyCar Series races at Watkins Glen International since the iconic road course joined the schedule.
Dixon finished outside the top ten at St Petersburg and Long Beach, but has notched top five finishes in five of the six events since, including the three victories, to sit one point behind Franchitti in the standings. If history holds, both drivers will remain in the hunt to the end of the year, as four of the past eight winners at Richmond have gone on to take the series title - including Dixon in 2003 and Franchitti in 2007).
"We've had some bad races at the start of the year and, obviously, Helio started a little bit later," Dixon said of the title race, "[Richmond] was a big gain for us and could be a pivotal point of the season. I hope that we can continue to be a little bit more consistent than them and gain points when we need to."