IRL: Scott Dixon press conference, part II

Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript September 30, 2003 Part 2 of 2 Scott Dixon Q: Scott, in looking over your resume, there are a couple of championship runs back there in Indy Lights and back in New Zealand. This one, ...

Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
September 30, 2003

Part 2 of 2

Scott Dixon

Q: Scott, in looking over your resume, there are a couple of championship runs back there in Indy Lights and back in New Zealand. This one, obviously, has a huge impact to it, and you seem like you are taking this, I don't know, kind of in stride. Maybe it's just who you are, but I've got to imagine that you would rather race this weekend than wait even another week.

S. Dixon: Yes, I would have liked to have raced last weekend, to be honest. I don't know, it's kind of nice to -- I think if it was earlier, just to get it out of the way and really see what is going to happen. I think just sitting around kind of plays on everybody, you know, even the guys on the team and things like that. But, I think It's probably my personality, I never really get too hyped and I, basically, just, you know, I feel better as long as I know I am putting in 100 percent and if I did lose, well, I did my best and we need to try again. But knowing that, I think, is probably going to be the best thing to help us.

Q: Is it easy to second-guess yourself? You've been to Texas before, but there wasn't as much at stake then as there is now.

S. Dixon: You know, there's always time for that, and I think there is probably going to be more emphasis, you know, especially going into the race. 'Oh, did we do the right thing with the car,' and even the engineers are going to be doing the same thing. So, I think we need to make sure that we set out what we are going to do for the weekend and have confidence in every change that we make, knowing that it's going to be coming down to this race. You know there is a lot of pressure, but, you know, I think we just need to make sure that we plan ahead and make the choices, hopefully it will be a little easier for us.

Q: Is there anything in your life that ever happened before that would bring, that created this much anxiety, or this much hand wringing to say 'Come on, let's get it on, let's get this over with?'

S. Dixon: Actually, I think it's very similar to my Indy Lights championship that I won in 2000. We had a huge lead and then, coming down to the last race, you know, it was basically, I think, Townsend (Bell) and myself, whoever won was going to win, and we were pretty much first and second in the whole race and even throughout the whole weekend. So, it's kind of similar, you know. It's a big circuit, but, as you know, luck played the game and we ended up doing it. I think that sort of, you know all of those little things in championships that you have been in before, just racing in general, and having, I think, the help from the team and things like that is a combination of things is going to help.

Q: Finally, do you keep one eye in the mirror for Helio, or a second eye in the other mirror for Sam, or do you just keep both eyes straight ahead and go as hard as you can for the win?

S. Dixon: Yes, I think most of the day you are going to sort of be playing out scenarios while you are driving around and seeing what and where the other guys are good. I think you sort of need to plan ahead just to make sure that, you know, you give yourself the best chance. And people are going to be better in different places. and you need to see if you can work on the cars throughout the race to make your car better than theirs where they have the advantage. So, there's going to be a lot of thinking going on for the first couple hundred miles and just trying to make sure that we can have the best car for the last stint. So, you know, there are going to be a lot of things going on.

Q: I just wanted to know how crazy it has been in New Zealand? Have you had a chance to go back or have you heard what your parents say is going on down there?

S. Dixon: Well, definitely my parents have been telling me a lot, and just hearing from general friends and stuff down there, there is definitely a lot of hype. It has been pretty good, they get all the races live. You know, a lot of radio stuff, we do a lot of paper stuff, and we even had 60 Minutes over from California. We've had a majority of the TV networks over throughout the season, so, I know there is a lot of stuff going on. I think it will be huge if we win, and I haven't been home, nearly so much, but I do hope to get home for the holidays. I'm sure, if all goes well, it will be pretty crazy.

Q: Scott, what I wanted to ask is, you know, in the qualifying, you qualified second there in June. How important is qualifying today, and is it necessary to be on the front row to win this race?

S. Dixon: I don't think it's necessary. I think it's definitely something you want to, you know, you want to have some concentration on making sure that you are near the front just because it makes it a little easier, and you don't want the front guys to stretch out, which you've seen, I think, in a lot of races. But, you know, our concentration is going to be on the race car setup, but we know what to do for qualifying. You know, we've been there testing, and things like that, and we haven't had too much of a problem this year to qualify in the first couple of rows. You know, I think we'll be pretty sound.

Q: What about the pit strategy? Was the team working extra hard on preparing pit stops, and will anything be done? You know, the last pit stop will be crucial.

S. Dixon: It will be. You know, I'm sure, I've definitely been into the workshop and the guys, they are going all out, and they are working their hardest, you know, training and doing different scenarios with, you know, if the air jacks fail and things like that. You know, they're definitely working very hard on trying to make sure that they're prepared, and most of them have been in this situation before, so I think it's going to help. You know, as strategy goes, it's hard to tell with how yellows fall, and so that is a lot of the time you just have to work it out during the day.

Q: On the last lap in the last race, you came within inches of winning. Where is the best place to be if you have a similar scenario? First, second or third?

S. Dixon: I don't know. California, we struggled a little. I was surprised, actually, where we finished, basically, just because our car was not so good, and I think Sam knew that our car was terrible on the high line and then once he passed us, he basically went to the low line, and I couldn't do anything. So, we need to make sure that our car is good throughout the day, and I think we need to put some emphasis on having a car that runs good on the high line for the finish.

Q: Scott, are your parents coming out for this race?

S. Dixon: They're not. Last time I brought them, I crashed. So, I think I'm going to leave them in New Zealand and bring them over for the banquet.

Q: Good. Do you know, this year everybody has been talking about how clean the racing has been in the Indy Racing League, considering how quick you guys were going and how close you are to one another, especially in the last few races with the championship on the line. Do you think that's all going to go out the window once we get to Texas and everybody gets just a sniff of that title in their heads?

S. Dixon: I think you're probably right. Some of it's going to go out the window. I can tell already. Obviously, everybody knows that there is a lot on the line and everybody's going to try that a little bit harder and maybe not think as much as they should have, but the racing has been fairly clean. I think there's been a lot of lucky times where something probably should of happened, but didn't, and that has been even in the last couple of races. So, I think, you know, the guys, pretty much the turnaround point was, I think, after Japan or around Indy, when guys started to look after each other a little more because plenty of people had hit the wall and didn't really like it too much. I think it's going to be fairly clean, but, you know, coming down to those last sort of 50 laps is going to be chaos, I'm sure.

Q: I think that is what the fans are hoping, that it's going to be exciting, but hopefully not chaos.

S. Dixon: Yes, well, we'll see.

Q: We'll see who keeps their head clean. Also, were you at the Formula 1 race this weekend?

S. Dixon: Yes, I actually went Friday and Saturday and had a bit of a look around.

Q: Any discussions with anybody at this point?

S. Dixon: It's always hard to catch up during race weekends, you know, despite the majority of people, mainly the people we had meetings with in London prior to the Monza race. You know, we are keeping communications open, and we will just have to wait and see what happens. But, I think we want to concentrate on what we are doing at the moment and I think they understand that.

Q: Hi Scott, good morning. You know, you have said several times during the course of this season that surprisingly you have had a lot more fun than you expected. When did you realize that you were enjoying this season? When did it become apparent to you that this sort of racing was agreeing with you?

S. Dixon: I think, even from the preseason testing and things like that, and, obviously, the first race, because the first race stood out to me a lot, not so much just that we won it, but because we started so far back and we still won the race. You know, if you had a good car, you could work your way to the front and, whereas in past years, that has been, you know, not possible and quite hard to get your head around it because you might have had a faster car, but you could never move up. So, I think from the start of the year, pretty much, even when I first started driving the cars, because they do have so much downforce, and are quite maneuverable and things like that, the cars in general by themselves are a lot of fun and then when you add them with another 20 cars out there, it's a lot more fun, even again.

Q: You know, during the course of the year, obviously, we get to see how all the drivers interact and there are some drivers in the garage area that seem to be everybody's buddy, and then there are other drivers that that is just not their way. Does it help you, Scott, when it comes to racing, does it help you to make the guy who is in the car next to you your adversary, as opposed to a buddy that you are racing against?

S. Dixon: I don't know. You definitely don't want any enemies out there. You know, you want to make sure that if you ever do anything wrong to the guy that you try to make it right, and, you know, most of the time, I think all of the guys get on pretty well. There are no grudges between anybody, and if there was, it's only for a little while. So, I think everybody understands that there is no point of having enemies out there and we all need to look after each other, because plenty of stuff can happen and when you crash it does hurt. So, I think everybody understands that and we try to look out for each other.

Q: I guess what I am referring to though, Scott, would be the attitude that you take in terms of your racing, mentally. When you look at the guy next to you, when you are a driver, you know, some drivers talk about driving with anger. You know, that phrase has been around for awhile. But it would appear from watching you, and from knowing and talking to you, that you are a bit more of a lone wolf, as opposed to a guy who wants to really chum up with all of the drivers in the garage area. Would that be a correct assumption do you think?

S. Dixon: I think I understand what you are saying, but you know, yes, probably. I don't think I interact with a whole lot of people, but that is just my, I don't know, that's just the way I am. But I still get along with the guys great, we are all good friends, it's just I don't hang out with them as much. I think, anyway, that all changes once you get in the car, you know, when you are racing everybody.

Q: What is your contract like with Ganassi?

S. Dixon: I don't like to get into it too much, but you know, I'll definitely be here for next year with Team Target.

Q: Okay. One other thing, is there any reaction, or interaction I should say, between your IRL team and the NASCAR team? Do the guys swap ideas, do they do things that are kind of common, or is it just totally a separate team?

S. Dixon: I think it's they are trying to integrate it a little more. You know, the teams in general are very different. I think with the NASCAR thing, you know, they're good old boys, and they do their own sort of thing, but Chip is definitely trying to bring them together. I know there are a lot of technology, sort of, heading towards the NASCAR side to try and get that going and things like that, but you also have to understand that it's totally different. But, you know, they are trying to work together more, and I think even in the next few years they have some fairly good plans to integrate the teams a little more again.

Q: Thanks. Scott, a follow up question, and maybe this is an understated question, but is this the most important race of your career?

S. Dixon: Well, I guess it could be, yes. I don't know. I didn't really want to think about it like that until now. I think it is very important, but I'm sure there will be more important races to come down the road. It just depends on how you look at it, and I think I just want to take it as another race and not look into it too much.

Q: Scott, when you came to America to race, what were your goals and what is your eventual goal now?

S. Dixon: I think my ultimate goal from when I was young was, you know, to race in the Formula 1, just because coming from New Zealand, I think we are more European and most of the time we would normally head to Europe as opposed to America first hand. But the problem with my side of things was we didn't really have any money and we couldn't afford to go there and we had a great opportunity with Stefan Johansson's team in the Indy Lights, which pretty much opened the door and there wasn't a whole outlay of cash that we needed in other places. So, probably not the way that we wanted to head, but it's worked out just fine and my short term goal is, obviously, to win the IRL Championship and the Indianapolis 500 and we will move on from there.

Q: Is the Indianapolis 500 still a vital thing in your future?

S. Dixon: I think so. You know, we're definitely going to try extremely hard, next year, for that and, you know, it's a strange race and one that it can take many years to win. So we'll try our hardest and, you know, it's hard to sort of plan any further than next year, so we will just have to take it as it comes.

Q: Okay, well again, good luck and congratulations.

S. Dixon: Thank you very much.

Part I


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Scott Dixon