DRIVER TRANSCRIPTS FROM TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY MEDIA DAY ON FEBRUARY 25, 2009 *** IndyCar Series driver Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing (via satellite from Homestead, Fla.) Your homeland in New Zealand honored you as its Sportsman...
DRIVER TRANSCRIPTS FROM TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY MEDIA DAY ON FEBRUARY 25, 2009
IndyCar Series driver Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing (via satellite from Homestead, Fla.)
Your homeland in New Zealand honored you as its Sportsman of the Year as well as putting you on a postage stamp, and you received a lifetime supply of free lamb for winning Indy. So give us a little insight to what the off-season has been like for you as the reigning champion of the series and the Indy 500 and some of your personal highlights.
SD: You know it's been different and I've had a lot of fun I think this off-season. When we won the [Indy] 500, I didn't really get the chance to get back down to New Zealand so I made two four-day trips, which it's a long way obviously to get to New Zealand. I think it's about 24 hours from Indianapolis, but to get down there and finally see how people received the win and the championship at that point because I didn't get back there until October before the race in Australia so it was lovely you know. We've always had a ton of support from New Zealand, but to see things like that was great. The "lamb for life" -- there was a bit of a joke made about that because I actually thought it was "land" for life with a "d" which I was pretty proud of that until they told me it was "lamb" so it was a bit of a downer when I got down there and they told me that. The rest of it, obviously the Halberg Award was fantastic and more amazingly, the stamp. Not too many people can say they saw their face, or not my face, but their car on a stamp in New Zealand so I was pretty happy about that.
Are you enjoying the lamb?
SD: Yeah, we've definitely had plenty of lamb, especially since we got down to New Zealand. Actually, one of the farmers from New Zealand sent some lamb and we had it at the Watkins Glen race, around July 4 I think, just after the [Indy] 500 win and we had a few people come up and cater that and we definitely had plenty, so I'm all "lambed" out at the moment.
Here you are, you're a quarter turn away from two championships in a row and now you've got the guy who beat you the previous year on the team with you, Dario Franchitti. How is your relationship with him melding and what are you looking at as prospects going into 2009 to repeat as champion?
SD: I think the prospects of going into 2009 are fantastic. I think many series at this point have cut back on off-season testing and even testing during the season so for us if we can continue on with the momentum that we had, and, obviously the cars were very good with Team Target, I think that definitely bodes well for us. You can see that from the moment of the first test last [Tuesday] night. I think we were first and third. As for the relationship with Dario, we've been great friends for many years. Actually when I first came in to Champ Car in 2001, I think it was, he's a guy I definitely looked up to. He was someone that had been in the series for a little while and was always easy to talk to. It seems strange to have fought and raced against him for so many years side by side and now he's actually on the team so it's going to be even more personal and probably even closer because he's got the same equipment now. I'm definitely looking forward to it. It was fantastic to have the [non-points] race in Australia [after the regular season]. For us to at least work on the relationship and see where we like things the same or different and surprisingly we like the cars very similar. It's a pretty big year for us. Team Target, when you look at it, has got two of the last [Indy] 500 champions and two of the last series champions so we've definitely got the target on our back and we're going to be trying to push as hard as possible.
Do you have professional chefs that travel around with you and your racing teams to prepare you meals? What sorts of meals are prepared?
SD: We do have a chef that travels with the team. We had fried chicken last night and that probably wasn't a good choice, but typically on a race weekend and throughout the season they prepare, obviously for the sponsors that come too, very nice meals but I think most of the drivers typically like chicken or pasta or something along those lines. Something quite simple and not too spicy or anything like that. Something that gives you the energy and the carbohydrates to get through the race. We typically try to eat fairly healthy throughout the season.
With the Champ Car guys coming into the series late in their development last year, how difficult is it going to be to win a championship this year with them basically having an even playing field that they didn't have last year?
SD: That's definitely a good question and something that all of us definitely understand. It's a time that we all had to embrace, and it was definitely harder for them because we were continuing on in a series that we had been in, at least for me, for the last four or five year. I think they had a month or even just a couple of weeks to get ready for the first race which was very tough. I think when the competition is so close and you've got the same chassis, the same engine, the same tires it's all the little fine details that takes all the time to actually improve on and make the Indy car's faster. I'd definitely say they were at a large disadvantage on the ovals. The short tracks maybe not so much because it's more about driving and really getting the cars to work with the driver, but definitely on the bigger speedways, mile-and-a-halves. Two-mile speedways are a little different because you can still trim the car out. This year is definitely going to be very tough. You've got a lot of teams that have spent their time in the off-season to prepare their cars better. I'd say for sure PKV and Newman-Haas and teams like that are going to be very tough to beat. I think you'll see a lot
What kind of cars do you and your wife drive on the street and why?
SD: Well, of course for me I've got the best car, a free car, and it's supplied by Honda. I actually drive an Acura MDX and my wife, she's British and she tries to keep it to tradition, drives a Range Rover Sport. Her car is worth probably three times the amount of mine so I don't know what's up with that.