CHAMPCAR/CART: Scott Dixon confident of big result at "home" race

Young Queensland-born Champ Car sensation Scott Dixon is confident he will be in a position to challenge for the winner's trophy at his "home" race at this year's Honda Indy 300 come October 24-27. Dixon is currently 14th in this year's FedEx ...

Young Queensland-born Champ Car sensation Scott Dixon is confident he will be in a position to challenge for the winner's trophy at his "home" race at this year's Honda Indy 300 come October 24-27.

Dixon is currently 14th in this year's FedEx Championship Series after three rounds, but is just 22 points behind series leader and former Australian winner Dario Franchitti.

Dixon, just 21, made his debut on the Gold Coast last year and ran strongly until gearbox problems ended his race.

The Brisbane-born Kiwi has made a flying visit to Australia this week to help with the pre-promotion of this year's event, which will also feature a V8 Supercar Championship race for the first time.

In the 11 previous years of the race there has never been a repeat winner and Dixon is hoping to continue that record when he lines up for PWR Championship Racing on the Gold Coast later this year.

"I obviously want to win every race in which I compete, but to win the Gold Coast race would be something special," said Dixon on the Gold Coast today.

"I never realised the support I have out here until I did the parade lap at last year's race. The crowd was going nuts.

"We have struggled to work out our new Lola chassis in the very short time we have had it, but I think we will have it well and truly sorted by the time we get here in October."

Dixon finished ninth in round three at Motegi in Japan last Saturday in his Toyota-powered Lola and arrived in Australia yesterday for a whirlwind media tour which will end when he flies out tomorrow afternoon.

Honda Indy 300 Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Jones, said the visit from Dixon was a terrific pre-race promotional opportunity.

"We regard Scott as one of our own and we are delighted he has made the time to come out here and help us with our pre-promotion," said Jones.

"Scott is obviously a very talented young guy and we would love nothing more for him to be in the championship hunt we he arrives down here for the penultimate race of the championship in October.

"Scott has a great following both here and in New Zealand and it would be sensational if we could add his name to our winner's hall of fame."

Dixon now has a month off before the next round of the FedEx Championship Series at Milwaukee on June 2.

While it is not on his schedule at the moment, there is a chance Dixon could be a part of the Indianapolis 500 at the end of May.

The Indy 500 is part of the rival Indy Racing League, but is contested by many Champ Car drivers and teams as a "one off" event.

"I have never even been to the (Indianapolis) speedway to see the 500, but it would be fantastic to do that event," said Dixon.

"We have had preliminary talks with a couple of teams, but no deals are done at this stage."

SCOTT DIXON PROFILE
Scott Dixon not only became the first New Zealander to secure a full-time ride in the FedEx Championship Series in 2001, but he concluded his rookie season with an entry in the record books and the Rookie of the Year trophy under his arm.

Dixon joined PacWest in 2000 but, like many before him, started his racing career in Karting. At the age of just 13, he was granted a special driver's license so he could compete in the New Zealand Formula Vee Championship, which he went on to win in 1993 and 1994.

While still just 13 years of age he had his first taste of Formula Ford racing and finished second in the national class 2 category before winning it outright the following season. The 1996/97 season would see him win the class 1 title in record fashion with eight wins in 15 starts. Dixon then accepted an offer to drive in the Australian Formula Holden Championship in which he finished third and earned the "Rookie of the Year" title despite a tight budget and high school studies back in New Zealand.

That performance won him a drive with the top SH Racing team, and in 1998 he was immediately competitive and went on to win the championship with one round to spare. On the strength of that win, and a lap record-breaking test at Sebring, Scott was signed by the Stefan Johansson Motorsports team to compete in the 1999 Dayton Indy Lights championship. In his inaugural year in Lights, Dixon scored his first victory and pole position at Chicago and finished just one point short of the Rookie of the Year title.

Dixon parlayed his early success to a ride with the PacWest Indy Lights team in 2000 after his debut season with Johansson Motorsports, where he won at Chicago from the pole and finished fifth in the championship missing rookie of the year honors by just one point.

In his inaugural season at PacWest, Dixon gave the team its first ever open-wheel title when he led all but one lap of the season finale in Fontana, clinching one of the most dramatic Dayton Indy Lights Championships ever.

Dixon went into the season finale with just a four-point lead over his closest competitor. Qualifying in second position, Scott, in true Dixon style, took the lead on lap one of the 50-lap race. He increased his championship lead by a point when he tied-up the most laps led for the race at the completion of lap 26. He then went on to capture his sixth victory of the twelve race season to solidify PacWest's first ever Indy Lights championship.

Dixon, the youngest driver in the Dayton Indy Lights series in 2000, started the season strong with a victory in the opening round at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The victory was followed up with Dixon winning his second career Light's pole position in Milwaukee where he also notched his second straight victory of the young season.

Dixon, went on to win races in Chicago (his 2nd victory in a row at the Illinois track), Vancouver, Laguna Seca, and Fontana. He eventually won the title with 155 points, just nine ahead of his closest competitor. Dixon finished the 2000 campaign with six wins, seven podium finishes, and one pole position. He was the second-youngest driver in history to win the Lights title, just six day's older than the late Greg Moore.

After his championship performance in 2000, Dixon received the call to move up to the big leagues (CHAMP cars) in 2001. Dixon started the season by making a name for himself in Monterrey, Mexico, where he led 14 laps in his season debut. Just two races later, in Nazareth, Dixon entered the record books by becoming the youngest ever winner of a CART race, or any major open-wheel race, by capturing his first victory at the age of 20 years, 9 months and 14 days. He followed that record-braking performance by adding a podium finish of third at Milwaukee, and fourth-place results at Chicago, Road America and Laguna Seca.

In his rookie season, Dixon scored championship points in 11 of 20 starts and led the FedEx Championship Series in laps completed, with 2,521 of a possible 2,610, and miles completed, with 4,351.217 of a possible 4,520.983. He finished 8th in the championship with 98 points while capturing the Rookie of the Year honors along the way.

YEAR BY YEAR

2001:
Finished 8th in the drivers championship with 98 points. Led 74 total laps during the season. Led the FedEx Championship Series in laps completed and miles completed. Had his best start of third at Road America and Laguna Seca, and earned his first career CHAMP car victory in Nazareth on his way to capturing the Rookie of the Year title.

2000: Dayton Indy Lights Champion
In his first season with PacWest Lights, Dixon, the youngest driver in the Dayton Indy Lights series, started the 2000 season strong with a victory in the opening round at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The victory was followed up with Dixon winning his second career Lights pole position in Milwaukee where he also notched his second straight victory of the young season. Dixon went on to win races in Chicago (his second victory in a row at the Illinois track), Vancouver, Laguna Seca, and Fontana. He eventually won the title with 155 points, just nine ahead of his closest competitor. Dixon finished the 2000 campaign with six wins, seven podium finishes, and one pole position.

2000 awards:
- American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters All America First Team - at large
- Worldcom Fast Paced Driver of the Year
- Racing for Kids - Racer of the Year

1999:
Made Champ Car debut at Putnam Park (IN) in October as test driver for PacWest Champ Car team during testing of the new Reynard transmission. Scored first Indy Lights victory and pole position at Chicago as series rookie with Johansson Motorsports. Qualified fourth and finished third in first oval event (Homestead). Captured second place result at Long Beach. Finished fifth overall, one point from the Rookie of the Year title. Finished second overall in the Tasman Express NZGP Championship (New Zealand). Won the Denny Hulme Trophy race. Received the Jim Clark Trophy at the Annual Motorsport New Zealand Awards.

1998:
Series Champion, Formula Holden (Australia). Captured five wins, seven poles, and five second place finishes in 12 races. Earned NGK Spark Plugs Pole Position Award. Finished second overall in the Tasman Express NZGP series.

1997:
Ranked third overall in Formula Holden Championship. Top rookie in the series.

1996:
Series Champion, New Zealand Formula Ford. Winner, All Nations Cup race and Dan Higgins Trophy race. Awarded Maurice Smith Memorial Trophy and Steel Trophy (Motorsport New Zealand).

1995:
Series Champion, New Zealand Formula Ford (Class 2). Awarded Steel Trophy.

1994:
Finished second overall, New Zealand Formula Ford (Class 2).

1993:
Series Champion, New Zealand Formula Vee (youngest driver to win a national championship). Winner, eight individual motorsport awards.

1990-1992:
Go-karts (New Zealand). Multiple victories.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Jim Clark , Denny Hulme , Greg Moore