If he can’t retain title, Dixon OK to play wingman for Palou

Six-time and reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon has confirmed he’s prepared to work for teammate Alex Palou should he himself be eliminated from championship contention this weekend.

If he can’t retain title, Dixon OK to play wingman for Palou

After Palou and Dixon finished first and third respectively at last week’s Grand Prix of Portland, Dixon saw his deficit to his Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda teammate reach 49 points with two rounds to go.

With a win worth 50 points – barring the bonus point for pole, bonus point for leading a lap and two bonus points for leading the most laps – this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca sees Dixon fighting to remain a title contender in next week’s finale, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. If he finishes this Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey behind Palou, his championship hopes are over.

But the 41-year-old said he would help Palou in his battle against his two other title rivals, Pato O’Ward (Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet) and Josef Newgarden (Team Penske-Chevrolet) at Long Beach, if he can.

Asked if he was prepared to play wingman for Palou, Dixon replied, “Of course! I had a few years like that with Dario [Franchitti].

“Goal number one for me is to keep the championship with Chip. He’s the guy that butters the bread, so yeah, that’s the main goal.

“It’s been an interesting year,” he went on. “We’ve had races where we thought we’d have good results and we’ve been a little bit off, or we’ve missed on one of the sequences. Even last week, we had got ahead of the #10 [Palou] but got jumped on a pitstop sequence. Places where we needed to make sure we capitalized, it’s been very tough.

“Losing all those points like we did at Indianapolis 500 was another bad one. [Palou finished second, polesitter Dixon was only 17th after his car ran out of fuel while the pits were closed and then wouldn’t refire until he had gone down a lap]. We lost 50 or 60 points to the #10 car in a single race.

“It’s fun to still be in the chase even with such a ‘blah’ year, but ultimately we’re all here to win.”

Dixon said he believes Laguna Seca should see an even battle between Chevrolet and Honda.

“You look at Nashville and it was bizarrely one sided, Honda with the advantage over the other,” he said. “If you look at how things were here last race [2019], especially in qualifying, you may say it was slightly skewed in Honda’s favor, but ultimately in the race it was fair and square between them.”

Dixon also observed that the test that Ganassi ran at Laguna Seca in February was not a huge help seven months later and that potential changes by IndyCar will help all teams save money in 2022.

“I think what IndyCar is aiming to do next year – a set amount of days but you can use them whenever you want – makes a lot more sense. Hopefully they can open up situations where you can test on a Thursday before the race, like we used to at, say, Sonoma.

“If you look at what we did at Portland – take everything out there to test in July, bring everything back, and then go out again for the race – it’s a massive expense, so hopefully they can change that.”

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