IRL: Dixon gets what he wants

Scott Dixon has never been one to mouth off; rather, this quiet Kiwi lets his actions speak for him on the various oval tracks of the Indy Racing League. Marking his first season in the IndyCar Series, this 22-year-old speedster won the opening...

Scott Dixon has never been one to mouth off; rather, this quiet Kiwi lets his actions speak for him on the various oval tracks of the Indy Racing League. Marking his first season in the IndyCar Series, this 22-year-old speedster won the opening salvo at Homestead-Miami Speedway and set new Indy Racing records in winning the last two races.

Dixon became the first driver in League history to go wire-to-wire - leading all laps in a race - at Richmond International Raceway last weekend. In the SunTrust Indy Challenge, he led at the green and he led at the red/checkered flags when the race ended early due to rainfall.

As the series heads to Kansas Speedway this Sunday, Dixon has led 290 straight laps, since his previous, second victory of the 2003 season at Pikes Peak International Raceway. He became the first driver this year to gain multiple victories and now stands second in points, 27 behind Tony Kanaan (247-220).

"Records are nice to have and it's good to break previous marks but all we want this year is the championship," Dixon declares. It doesn't matter that he's looking to be the first driver to take three in a row since Kenny Brack performed that feat in 1998. He just wants to win this race. He wants to win every one of the nine races remaining on the 2003 docket.

This is Scott Dixon's second season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. He came to that team last year at the CART Milwaukee round, after PacWest Racing closed shop. Essentially, CART gave him to Team Target to ensure the New Zealander's participation for the balance of the season.

It was a good match, the quiet Kiwi and volatile team owner Chip Ganassi and, while Dixon didn't make it to the top step of the podium as the team's third driver (joining Bruno Junqueira and Kenny Brack), he finished in the top ten in 11 races and hounded Junqueira to the checkered flags at Denver.

Road racer Dixon decided to stay with Team Target when the group migrated to the Indy Racing League for the 2003 season, joining another 22-year-old, South African Tomas Scheckter.

This duo has more in common than age: Dixon, too, comes from a racing family, as his parents engaged in amateur motorsports in the Queensland area of Australia prior to and after his birth. Ron and Glenys Dixon owned a track in the Queensland area for three or four years and "there was a huge family influence for me," Dixon recalls. "They definitely help and supported my efforts."

After dominating karts, NZ Formula Ford and Formula Holden in his mid-teen years, Dixon came to the United States to try his hand at Indy Lights in 1999. He had immediate success, scoring his first pole and win at the Chicago oval that year, finishing fifth overall in the points chase.

The following season Dixon galloped away with the Indy Lights title, scoring six wins, seven podiums and one pole position. As a Champ Car rookie, Scott Dixon became the youngest victor in open wheel racing when he won at the short Nazareth oval in 2001.

Notice something? Yes, Scott Dixon gained his first Indy Lights and Champ Car wins on short ovals. No wonder his adaptation to the IndyCar Series has been so fluid. "It's hard for some of us who come from the road course background to adapt to ovals but I enjoy it completely," he allows. "The Indy Racing package and the racing is a lot of fun for me.

"While I'm basically a road racer, I can translate that experience to ovals but," he notes "I really can't pinpoint why I've adapted to ovals so easily. It's hard to say."

The short ovals are Scott Dixon's favorites. When he first came to Richmond, he thought it was a kart track, so small at .75 mile. But then he performed well in his initial open test at the fast D-shaped oval and decided that maybe this place was fun. "I really like this circuit. It's a lot of fun to drive." He led practice, qualifying and the race. Fun indeed.

And yes, "I would have liked to go to the end of the 250 laps. Most of us don't want shortened races. Who knows how it would have played out?" he ponders. Dixon was saving fuel for the end of the race and, while Helio Castroneves was catching him, Dixon believes he would have had enough in hand to keep the Brazilian behind.

While admitting that he prefers the short ovals, the series heads for the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway this weekend, a track that requires "different strategy, trimming the car out." There are different elements at play here but Dixon is hoping "our luck will hold out. We've got to work hard to keep ahead and put in more consistent runs throughout the year." After all, he did fail to finish Phoenix, Twin Ring Motegi and the 87th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Dixon's strengths in the IndyCar Series are his abilities to adapt to situations. "I think generally that's where my strong point is, adapting to circuits fast." As the second half of the season is coming up, he'll be contesting only three tracks (after Kansas) where he's never competed: Nashville, Kentucky and Chicagoland.

Scott Dixon will have the data of teammate Scheckter who, thus far has "everyone's share of bad luck" to help him on those tracks. As for the others, he's competed in Indy Lights at Michigan and Gateway, won in that series at Fontana, taken that maiden Champ Car win at Nazareth. Dixon will have his second chance to win in Indy cars this year in Texas during the series finale.

Is he looking forward to the competition at hand? Well, of course. "I think wins will be really hard to come by through the balance of 2003, but our team is working very well together as a whole. In this series, consistency pays better than wins" as he's learned by watching Kanaan's efforts in the first half of the season.

Scott's ultimate goal would be to get a chance at Formula One, "My main goals are to win the IndyCar Series title and next year's Indy 500 but I'd like a taste or a crack at F1. That would be my long-term goal." With his dedication and natural abilities - and even though no F1 team owners have yet knocked on his Indianapolis apartment door - don't count out Scott Dixon. He usually gets what he wants.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Bruno Junqueira , Scott Dixon , Kenny Brack , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing