Scott Dixon said winning his third title in 10 years was one of his most rewarding seasons as an Indy car driver.
Scott Dixon doesn't like to look at his motorsports accomplishments and compare them to the greats of the sport.
But as the three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion enters the 2014 season, it's difficult not to take account of results.
• 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner
• Three series titles (2003, 2008 and 2013)
• 31 second-place finishes (fifth all time)
• 76 podium finishes (most among active drivers)
• 20 poles - 14th on the all-time list
In fact, he said winning his third title in 10 years was one of his most rewarding seasons as an Indy car driver.
"The way the season played out - all three championships are very different," Dixon said after rallying from a huge mid-season deficit to win the title by 27 points over Helio Castroneves. "(In) 2003 I was naïve and really didn't know what I had won. '08 was a perfect year with the '500' win and the championship and this past year we never led until we got to (the season finale at) Fontana and we had so many highs and lows. We were on a streak and then Sonoma hit and then we were out of it and gained all those points back. It was rewarding."
The one thing Dixon has yet to accomplish is a successful defense of a series title. He came close in 2009, finishing second to teammate Dario Franchitti, and knows a fast start can help him keep a strong grip on his crown.
"I think it's obviously a good problem to have," Dixon said. "I've been in this situation a couple of times before and we actually haven't defended it that well. We will just have to sort of see how it goes."
No place is a fast start more important than the streets of St. Petersburg and the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (3 p.m., March 30, ABC). Dixon has finished second three times in his previous nine starts at the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit.
"For us in the past when we have come close to another three championships I think it's always been the start of the year that has kind of hindered us," he said. "I think we need to focus on making a good start in the first three or four races."
Dixon knows that repeating as champion won't be an easy task. The Verizon IndyCar Series is one of the most competitive championships in motorsports and the Target Chip Ganassi driver knows that he'll be challenged by his own teammates - Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe and Charlie Kimball - as well as challengers from Andretti Autosport and Team Penske.
"Will (Power) finished strong. He'll start the season strong," Dixon said. "We know he's quick and it's just about putting the consistency together, especially toward the end. Helio (Castroneves) had an extremely consistent year; he won one race and he's always there. It will be interesting to see the dynamic with Juan (Pablo Montoya) there. You always expect to benchmark yourself off a team like that."