Daytona 24: Dixon, Wheldon - Lexus interview

Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon teamed to help bring Lexus its first-ever Rolex 24 at Daytona victory in 2006. The Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar Series drivers will team again this year in the ...

Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon teamed to help bring Lexus its first-ever Rolex 24 at Daytona victory in 2006. The Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar Series drivers will team again this year in the #02 Target/Lexus. Dixon was the 2003 Indy Racing League champion and the series' runner-up a year ago, while Wheldon won both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the IRL series title that season. We recently sat down with the two former Indy Racing League champions.

First up, Scott Dixon.

Moderator: Scott, this is going to be your fifth Rolex 24, tell us about this year's run.

Scott Dixon: As always I'm looking forward to it. It's a great way to start the season. I think the package that we've had over the last three or four years has obviously been very good. Two Rolex 24 wins in a row is very difficult to accomplish and going for a third is definitely the main aim of the team. I'm always excited about this race, it's going to be a lot of fun.

Moderator: Do you enjoy driving the Daytona Prototypes?

Scott Dixon: It's definitely different than the Indy Car, it's not as stiff or as maneuverable as the Indy car because it doesn't have as much downforce. You know the great thing about it is that you have so many cars out there that are equal. And as far as the race, you have 80-some cars out there that you have to pass and that's definitely a lot more than the IndyCar Series. Driving these cars is a lot of fun. You don't have as much stress or weight on your shoulders because you can spread the load over three or four drivers and you've got quite a big team behind you. To be quite honest, the team is more important than the drivers here. To fix the big issues that you have to address during the night is the big key to winning this race.

Moderator: Do you enjoy racing against all the drivers from other disciplines?

Scott Dixon: It's fantastic. Having such a great field is the key to the whole event for me. With the racing you do through the season, it's pretty much your job. But when you come here, you can catch up with a lot of people that you've raced with throughout the years in many different categories. You have drivers from IndyCar, Champ Car, sports cars, quite a few from NASCAR, and all kinds of racing series before that as well. So it's just a lot of fun. I think in the past few years, you've seen it draw a lot more competitive drivers and teams and that tells you what people think of this race.

Moderator: What does this race mean to Scott Dixon?

Scott Dixon: It's definitely something that ranks near the top of my list. It's definitely one of the hardest races to win. You only get one opportunity a year to do it, and it's 24 hours flat out. To me, it means more as a group with the team. When we won this race in 2006, we had a number of problems and spent some time in the pits, but the team did the work on the car that pulled us through. For me, it's a real accomplishment and definitely something you want to win again once you've won it the first time.

Moderator: You won in 2006, your teammates in the #01 won in 2007. You both want to win a record third straight for the team, but obviously both cars want a second Rolex 24. Are your teammates also your biggest competition?

Scott Dixon: That's the way we have looked at it every year we've done it, actually. We know the driver line-ups throughout the field are all competitive, but our team is what separates us from a lot of the other cars in the field. I think they make quick decisions and repair the car a little bit quicker. They seem to really do their homework and are always making small improvements because we've been running this combination for so long now. But yes, we look at the #01 as the car we have to beat, but truthfully, that's how we want it.

Now, let's talk with Dan Wheldon.

Moderator: Dan, tell us about Chip Ganassi Racing's quest to become the first team ever to win the Rolex 24 three straight years and your role in that attempt.

Dan Wheldon: Chip Ganassi Racing and the TELMEX team always put out a great car capable of winning. And with the development program that this Daytona Prototype program has with Lexus, you'd expect to feature nothing less than a very strong effort. That's important for me as an individual and for us as a team. The Rolex 24 is a very big race to win when you consider that there's so many different champions come here from across the globe. We expect to run well as a team, but hopefully since it was the #02 in 2006 and the #01 in 2007 that it will be back to the #02 in 2008.

Moderator:  You've won an Indianapolis 500 and you have a Rolex 24 victory
under your belt.  What does this race mean to you?

Dan Wheldon: It's a race, like the Indianapolis 500, where there's certainly some history involved. Anytime you can be a part of that, it's very important. As an IndyCar driver primarily, it's also good to be diverse and to be a part of things like this. Hopefully we can be a part of another victory. I have two wrists, so it would be nice to have two Rolex watches!

Moderator: Like many of the drivers in the field, you come from a different form of racing, as a driver what's the attraction of this race?

Dan Wheldon: I think it's actually very unique. Although, it's great to see and race against all of these top drivers - and a lot of them become friends over the years - as soon as you get on the race track, the friends thing goes out the window and it is extreme competition. As a professional driver, you want to beat the best of the best and this is one of those events where you can do that, so it's incredibly unique because of that fact. But that's also what makes it very enjoyable and rewarding to win.

-credit: lexus

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing