IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League Notebook 2003-08-21

Dixons meet; J. Lazier to drive for Menard INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2003 -- Two drivers who drive vastly different race cars have a combined 11 wins in 2003 Besides sharing winning ways, they share the same last name: Dixon They ...

Dixons meet; J. Lazier to drive for Menard

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2003 -- Two drivers who drive vastly different race cars have a combined 11 wins in 2003

Besides sharing winning ways, they share the same last name: Dixon

They finally met Aug. 19 in Clermont, Ind.

IndyCarTM Series standout Scott Dixon met NHRA Top Fuel Drag Racing standout Larry Dixon at Indianapolis Raceway Park during NHRA Open Testing.

Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, has three wins in the IndyCar Series this season, more than any other driver. He is third in points, just 12 behind leader Tony Kanaan and four points behind Helio Castroneves.

Larry Dixon, driver of the Miller Lite/Snake Racing Top Fuel Dragster, has won eight races this season, also more than any other driver. He leads the point standings and drives for legendary drag racer, Don "The Snake" Prudhomme.

Each Dixon got a look at the other's world, with Scott Dixon looking at Larry Dixon's top-fuel dragster and Larry Dixon learning about at Dixon's IndyCar Series car.

"It's something different," Scott Dixon said. "I haven't seen any of this stuff before. You see it on TV, but even when the thing starts up, my God, they're loud."

Scott Dixon admitted he wouldn't mind attempting to drive a top-fuel dragster. As opposed to driving 200 laps, as is the case in most IndyCar Series races, Scott Dixon would experience the quarter-mile dragstrip in a little more than four seconds. Larry Dixon set a national speed record at Las Vegas with a pass of 4.537 seconds, 332.75 mph.

"Sure, if the opportunity comes along I'll take a drive," Scott Dixon said. "They're pretty awesome."

Both drivers admitted they watch each other's races, although sometimes there is some confusion.

"You watch the sports shows and you see 'Dixon wins', you think, 'Hey that's cool,'" Larry Dixon said. "Then you realize, 'Oh wait, that wasn't me, that was Scott Dixon.' I think it was cool to finally be able to meet him."

Despite the fact that the two forms of racing are mostly different, there is one big similarity -- there is no room for error.

"The IRL racing is obviously real tight," Larry Dixon said. "You can't give up anything anywhere, in the pits or on the track. For us, our whole day is in a four-and-a-half second window. The driver's got to be perfect, the crew's got to be perfect, the crew chief has to make perfect calls, because you don't have laps to make it up."

Larry Dixon said he'd by interested in taking some laps in an IndyCar Series car, but he's not sure if he'd be driving.

"I know they've got that two-seater," Larry Dixon said. "It might be kind of cool to take the back seat and have a pro show me how it's done."

While it's doubtful that Larry Dixon's top-fuel dragster will ever make an appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500, Dixon thinks he might have one advantage.

"I'd have to make up all my time in the straightaway, because I'd have to finesse a little bit more than they do in the corners," Larry Dixon joked. "I tell you what though, I'll race any one of those guys down the straightaway. They've got a race anytime."

***

J. Lazier in at Menard: IndyCar Series veteran Jaques Lazier will substitute for the injured Vitor Meira in the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone for the Firestone Indy 225 Aug. 24 at Nazareth Speedway.

Meira suffered a fracture to his right wrist in a crash during practice Aug. 16 at Kentucky Speedway.

Lazier drove for Menard from Aug. 2001 through the 87th Indianapolis 500 on May 25, 2003. He competed in the final three races of the 2001 season with the team and scored his only career victory at Chicagoland. He then drove the first four races with the team in 2002 before he suffered a fractured back in a two-car accident at the 2002 Nazareth race. He missed the remainder of the season.

Lazier returned to action for the first four races of 2003 with Team Menard before he and the team parted ways after Indianapolis. He drove in four other races in 2003 with A.J. Foyt Racing. Lazier's best performance this season was at Phoenix, driving for Menard when he started 12th and finished sixth.

"I'd like to thank John (Menard) and Johns Manville for this opportunity to drive," Lazier said. "I want to wish Vitor a quick recovery. I'm very excited about going into this weekend. I think that the overall program from Team Menard and Chevrolet has dramatically increased since the last time I ran with them in the Indianapolis 500. Their engineering staff is as strong as ever.

"Obviously the Chevy Gen IV is at the top of its game right now. I think we know we have a really good package, and we need to go in there and do what we have unfortunately struggled to do this year, have consistent races and be able to finish at the end of the race."

***

For a good cause: IndyCar Series standouts Scott Dixon, Sarah Fisher and Sam Hornish Jr. participated in the "PeyBack Bowl" Aug. 20 at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis.

The bowling event, which raised more than $100,000 for the PeyBack Foundation, a charity set up by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, was attended by several other celebrities including Colts players Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James, Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller, country music star Kenny Chesney and rock star John Mellencamp and his wife, Elaine, former spokeswoman for the IRL.

"I think it's awesome to be able to help," Fisher said. "The fact that we can all get together and help out is something I'm proud to be a part of."

While Dixon was happy to help out, he admitted that the sport the event was centered around was not his forte.

"It's good that it's for charity, but I definitely won't be taking up bowling up as a sport," Dixon said. "I started good early with a strike, but I pretty much went downhill. This is probably the second time I've bowled in a good six years. I'm a little rusty.

"It's good to be here. Peyton's got a lot of his friends here, and it's going to raise a lot of money and help things out."

Hornish was the most experienced bowler of the group and routinely bowls with his friends in his hometown of Defiance, Ohio. However, he wasn't quite on his game in Indianapolis. Despite that, Hornish's team finished third in the competition.

"I didn't bowl very well," Hornish said. "I'm not good enough to be a professional, but I'm working on it. Maybe after racing I'll be a retired professional."

Hornish admitted that participating in the charity event helped take his mind off of the decision about his future driving plans. He and Panther Racing announced Aug. 18 that they would part ways at the end of the 2003 season. Hornish has said that he hopes to make a decision on his future in by the end of August.

"I've signed some autographs and everyone's asked what I'm doing," Hornish said. "But, it does take my mind off of it a little bit. Anytime I get to do something for fundraising and get to meet some people I wouldn't get to normally meet, it's pretty much a win in all ways."

While bowling was a break for Hornish, the fact remained that several people are interested in what the future holds for him. He said his cell phone indicated he has talked on the phone about 15 hours, or 900 minutes in the last five days.

"The other day when I came home from Indianapolis I had my phone off," Hornish said. "When I got home I had 28 voicemails, so it was kind of a busy day."

***

Back to his roots: Ed Carpenter, who drives the Infiniti Pro Series No. 14 Futaba/Delphi A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, will compete in the Weld Racing USAC Silver Crown race at Nazareth Speedway this weekend. The Infiniti Pro Series is not racing at Nazareth.

Carpenter, who won the inaugural Freedom 100, will drive the No. 69 Hoffman Racing entry, the same car that he drove at Phoenix and Richmond on the IRL race weekends. His best finish this season, running a limited schedule, is third at Richmond after starting 10th.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Larry Dixon , Sarah Fisher , Helio Castroneves , Jaques Lazier  , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing