Chip Ganassi Racing’s reigning four-time champion Scott Dixon said he had speed in reserve should the chasing Penske cars have mounted a challenge in the Phoenix Grand Prix.
The #9 CGR-Chevrolet led the final 155 laps of the race after both Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya were knocked out of contention by right-front punctures. Notably, however, he appeared to be pacing the race so as to keep first Will Power, then Simon Pagenaud behind him while also not feeling obliged to go off-line and lap backmarkers on a night when passing proved difficult.
“Yeah, it was really about management and how hard we had to push the car, whether we needed to pass some of that lapped traffic,” said Dixon who has joined Al Unser on 39 victories, fourth in IndyCar’s all-time winners’ list.
“The Target car was fast – really, really fast. I think at any point we had enough for anybody who was going to challenge. We had speed in reserve for sure. If we needed to push harder, I think it wouldn’t have been too much of an issue.”
Dixon commented that the changing conditions, as the daylight heat dissipated in the desert evening, had kept him and the team busy tweaking the car setup through the race. However, he said the evening test sessions in February and Friday night’s practice had given some useful pointers.
“You have to keep up with the car, so we made quite a few changes from the start of the race,” he said. “The track is always going to evolve… and I think you definitely get much more of a shift from a day-to-night race.
“But with the testing that we had, we did a lot of running at night, so as a team we had the bases covered as far as thinking what we should do."