Dixon's perfect day puts him back in title race
Soaked in sweat from 85 physical laps on the twisting road course and champagne from celebrating his fourth IZOD IndyCar Series victory at Mid-Ohio, it was pointed out to Scott Dixon that he had tied Rick Mears for 10th all-time with 29 Indy car victories.
At 32 years old, he's not pointing to A.J. Foyt's record 67 wins. But Bobby Unser's 35 (fifth on the list) is tantalizing to the New Zealander. Mears retired when he was 41.
"If I could run for another nine years that would be pretty cool," said Dixon, who is two wins from tying Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti, Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy for ninth. "That's a long time, but we would love to work our way to the top."
In the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, Dixon worked his way to the front for good following the second and final round of service stops by getting in and out of his pit stall quicker than race leader Will Power of Team Penske. Dixon went on to lead the final 26 laps and won by 3.4619 seconds.
"All in all, it was a perfect day," noted Dixon, who closed to 28 points of the front-running Power in the series championship standings with three races remaining. "I was waiting for something to go wrong. I saw the guy in the flag stand hanging his 10 fingers out, and I thought, 'What's going to go wrong now?'
"I'm glad we got to the end. I'm super excited for the team."
It was the 149th victory for a Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver across all series (NASCAR and GRAND-AM, too), and the fourth in a row at Mid-Ohio (Franchitti won in 2010).
Dixon, who has won four of the six IZOD IndyCar Series races on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn course, has developed a comfort level with the demanding course.
"I learned a lot when I first came here I think in 2002 with Kenny Brack and Bruno Junqueira," Dixon said. "And I couldn't get within 2 seconds of them. It was some crazy number by Kenny, and that really frustrated the hell out of me.
"Coming back, it's always been a track that I've focused on and loved coming to. I think it's been the same at Watkins Glen (where he won in three consecutive years) or Road America. So it's just a place I feel comfortable, a place you can really charge. You can really get aggressive with this place, and it keeps giving you some more back."
Team managing director Mike Hull said Dixon has the rhythm down at such venues. The Sonoma road course, the next stop on the schedule and where Dixon has a victory and three other top-five finishes in seven years, is included in that mix.
"Scott enjoys rhythm racetracks. I think maybe it's that simple," Hull said. "He can chase (the changing grip levels of the) racetrack. And whenever we race a track that has a lot of timing with it, he just really, really comes on."
Most Indy car wins:
1. A.J. Foyt 67
2. Mario Andretti 52
3. Michael Andretti 42
4. Al Unser 39
5. Bobby Unser 35
6. Al Unser Jr. 34
7. Sebastien Bourdais* 31
Dario Franchitti* 31
Paul Tracy 31
10. Scott Dixon* 29
Rick Mears 29
* active in IZOD IndyCar Series