Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript September 30, 2003 Part 1 of 2 Scott Dixon K. Johnson: We welcome everyone to the Indy Racing conference call for this week, Tuesday, Sept. 30. Today we will be visiting with IRL IndyCara...
Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
September 30, 2003
Part 1 of 2
K. Johnson: We welcome everyone to the Indy Racing conference call for this week, Tuesday, Sept. 30. Today we will be visiting with IRL IndyCara Series driver Scott Dixon. Dixon drives the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone and is tied with Helio Castroneves for the IndyCar Series points lead. Each driver has 467 points entering the season-ending Chevy 500 October 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. Scott, good morning and thanks for joining us.
S. Dixon: Thank you very much.
K. Johnson: I guess to start with, the big picture. You have one race to go on the IndyCar Series schedule; you are tied for the lead in the driver point standings with Helio. Do you think it will take an absolute win on your part to claim the championship, and is that what you are shooting for?
S. Dixon: I think, basically, that is going to be the way to approach the weekend. You know, we approach the weekend the same every time. We want to win. I don't know, I think the easiest way to win the championship is going to be to win the race. I think that is how we are going to--hopefully we are prepared enough, and I think we have a great car for the coming weekend at Texas.
K. Johnson: Now, how important is winning the driver championship to you, and also, how important would it be to Team Target?
S. Dixon: I think, as I said, last week just because of the competition and anything quite like that, this season has been so intense, and to beat out all of these great teams and all of the good drivers, I think we will be, you know --I am very satisfied with the complete year and to win the championship makes it a lot better. So, I think, even for Team Target, it may even be more so to them because they have worked so hard. You know, we had a pretty rough start to the year, with getting the cars right and things like that. So, they struggled and work very long days throughout the year, and I think it would be a good way to repay them, and a good way for them to be able to know that they worked so hard for a good reason.
K. Johnson: Now, by the time we get to Texas in a week-and-a-half, you will have had basically three weeks between races. Has the championship battle been in the back of your mind over this time or have you been able to relax and get away from it?
S. Dixon: No, I have just been training and things like that, and I think that sort of keeps me occupied. You know, obviously, we have fun when we can in Indy, too, so everybody is surely busy with things like that. But, I don't know, I try not to look into it too much, I think that is probably the worst way. You know, you can look at it as trying to analyze things too much, and you just have to take it as it comes. You can psyche yourself out pretty easy with having one race to go, and we are fighting for the championship and there's still four guys that can win it quite easily. I don't know, I just get on with my normal day-to-day stuff, and when Texas race week comes, we'll deal with it then.
Q: I am wondering if, with all of the championships that Chip Ganassi has been in, coming down to final races and winning the title, how much, if any, advise has he been giving you over the last few races?
S. Dixon: You know, Chip, I think, just basically tries to -- he may show his support, and he advises us every race. You know, he's been there, along with many other people that work at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and it's good to have a mix of new people and people that have won many championships with the team. So, you know, it all helps, and any advice you can take from anybody helps in a certain way. But, you know, obviously, all championships are very different and this one, coming down to Texas, this is going to be a huge shootout. Some of it's going to be a little bit of luck, and I think the biggest thing from Chip is his support and he is very hands-on with the team.
Q: Did you, at the beginning of the year, think you would be at this spot by the end of the season?
S. Dixon: It was hard to tell, I think. You know, as I've said before, as well, is that you know going into a new season with a team that hasn't raced yet, previously, very much, and with new engines, new cars and the whole package was totally different, it was hard for them to know what to expect. But, I think going in with a team like Team Target, you have to fully expect that you're going into the season with championship hopes and wanting to tie that up.And, you know, after the first race in Homestead, after qualifying, we weren't to sure. But then, once we won the race, we knew that we definitely had a great package, and we could only get better.
Q: Was there pressure on you at the beginning of the year, knowing that 'OK, I'm going to be racing in an all-oval series for the first time, I'm with the team that has won championships and really expects to win championships?' Did you feel any pressure that you had to succeed?
S. Dixon: I don't know; there are many ways of looking at it. I think there is a bit of pressure there, but then you also have to understand that you have it probably a little bit better than some other drivers as well. You know, you have a great team that has won many championships and they are going to do all they can to do it and, you know, I've been in a team before where, you know, they can be pretty political and maybe not spend the money in the right areas. But, you know with Target Chip Ganassi Racing that they're going to do all they can to win, and they have shown that this year. I think that just helps the driver's confidence going into the year and you know that definitely helps, coming down to the championship.
Q: My question is, in the first race, I remember Gil de Ferran saying that he looked in his rearview mirror in that first race and saw a Target car in the back and was, like, almost shocked. Were you as shocked as he was to be so far up in the front the first race, and what kind of confidence did that give you for the rest of the season?
S. Dixon: I think, especially for the first race in Miami, just because we had qualified so bad, you know, we knew that was probably going to be our hardest race just from the preseason testing, but once we got started in the race, and we started just moving through the field, we knew we had a great car and that we could possibly be there at the end. It, confidence-wise, you know, when you have a great car on an oval, you know, a driver's job can be a lot easier than most people's. So, confidence-wise, that is huge, and I think that's definitely what kicked off the start towards it.
Q: And, in regards to Texas, obviously, this is probably one of the closest battled championships of any major series with, really, five drivers having the chance, but probably four, legitimately. Are you starting to really feel it now? I know it's still a week-and-a-half away, but are you starting to get more stomach tingling and that kind of stuff?
S. Dixon: Not really. You know, I think there is a lot of talk about it and most people that I see during the day are always, you know, 'oh It's getting really tight and blah, blah, blah.' and then talking to my parents in New Zealand, there is a lot of hype down there, as well. So you know, I don't know, I just try to look at it, basically, it's either it's going to work out or it's not and you can't do much about it. You know, as long as we prepare ourselves the most and think that we have a fair shot, you know, we just have to try our hardest. We can't do much more than that. You know, hopefully, it works out. If not, we need to try next year.
Q: You said that it's either going to work out or it's not, and I think part of what I guess I wanted to ask you about was last year's championship not only went to the last race with those two guys, but really went to the last couple of corners. And, the mile-and-a-half tracks, I don't know whether that is the best thing that can happen. But, really, you really have to almost wait for that last pit segment, that last segment of the race to know whether you have a chance to win a championship.
S. Dixon: Yes. I'm going to kind of take it like, probably, the same way I raced California. You know, I just hung back there for a while and made sure that we saved fuel for the last pit stop and to see if we could get a bit of an advantage, and it seemed to work out pretty good. But, I think you have to stay fairly relaxed, you can't go out there trying to knock everybody off the track or, you know, win the first 100 miles, or whatever. So, I'm probably going to look at doing the same, just sit back and get everything keyed up for the last set of pit stops.
Q: If, given a choice right now, you go to the last lap and, let's say it's with Helio, do you want the inside or the outside?
S. Dixon: I want the whole track. I'm not sure, it depends. I'll have to see how our car is working. We've struggled a little bit on the outside lately, but I know our focus, probably, going into Texas is going to be on making sure that the car can work well on the high line. So, I think, obviously, looking at most of the races that have been won, and especially by Sam moving on the outside, I think we would bring it on the outside.
Q: One final thing about Sam. There has been a lot of discussion, obviously, about the new Chevy engine and, I guess, what I want to ask you is regardless of that, I mean whether, he has an advantage or he does not have an advantage or whatever, forget the politics of that, can you talk about what he has done though as a race car driver in delivering three out of four because even the best cars in most races don't win and yet, what he has had to do was deliver really three, four exceptional races here in a row to even get back in this.
S. Dixon: Yes. Sam has done a superb job, for sure. He's obviously been in this game for a little while, and I think he might understand a little more than some of us guys that have been out there, and, you know, he definitely makes sure he's in the right place at the right time and he has definitely shown that. Maybe he does have an advantage with the engine or what, but as you said, you still can't beat the fact that he has done a great job, and we obviously need to look into that a bit more and try and work out how we can gain on that as well. He's definitely done a great job.
Q: I know you are going to go all out in this race, but are there things that the team can do, maybe, over and above to the car, or anything extra special they may do for this one last race that they would not do for some of the other races this year?
S. Dixon: I think, for the majority of the top teams, they are definitely going to go all out, you know, from body fits to new design parts. I know we've had a lot of stuff just coming for this last race, and even from the engine manufacturers you have different spec engines coming out. It's going to be an extremely fast, high-intensity race, I think. You know, definitely all out, I think, for this one.
Q: OK. How do you see the race? Between you and who else?
S. Dixon: It's hard to say, but I think from the majority of this year, I think it's going to be me and, probably, the other four guys that are fighting for the championship, you know, because I think some of the other teams probably are not going to work as hard as what, you know, myself and the four other driver's teams are going to, because they know they definitely have a big chance of winning this and that is where the speed is going to come from. So, I believe it's probably going to be the same guys that have been up there for the last couple of races.