Scott Dixon’s three race win streak ended last Sunday in Road America. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver won each of the first three races and did so in dominating fashion. Heading into this weekend’s action at the Iowa Speedway, Dixon holds a commanding 54 point lead over second place.
It’s not just the fact that the “Ice Man” has not only been that much better than his competition, it’s that his main rivals for this year’s championship have been that much worse.
“We want to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Dixon. “You really need to stay focused and maximize these opportunities.
“Winning the first four races (as a team) was nice, but now our focus turns to winning this weekend at Iowa. You need to be prepared, unload fast and work quick because everything is happening so quickly with two races in two days. There is no room for mistakes. We were able to get the results in last week’s doubleheader, but that was last week, and Iowa presents a new challenge. I know the PNC Bank No. 9 team will be up for it.”
Alexander Rossi was in a championship or bust kind of year. He’s been close in each of the last couple of years at a championship and 2020 was his time to finally get one. But, Rossi has had terrible luck and sits near the bottom of the standings. He’s still ranked as the third lowest full time driver right now in points.
The Andretti Autosport driver hasn’t led a lap in over a year and comes to Iowa on the heels of three finishes of 15th or worse in four starts this season.
“Another doubleheader this weekend, this time at one of the most demanding tracks we go to,” Rossi said. “We are encouraged with the steps forward that we made last weekend, and hopefully that will lead to more trophies as we continue to fight back and try to close the gap to the leaders. It’s going to be a challenge, but we are ready for it.”
Team Penske have had their fair share of struggles too. Simon Pagenaud was keeping Dixon in check until finishes of 12th and 13th respectively in Road America. Josef Newgarden was right there too until a seventh place result in Indy on the road course and 14th/9th in two races in Elkhart Lake himself. Finally, Will Power has been non existent with being 13th and 20th in the first two races and 11th again in race No. 2 at Road America.
These are Dixon’s main competition for this year’s championship and as much as Dixon is dominting, the rivals are punting their chances away.
Now, it’s to Iowa for two more races. This is a place Dixon has never won at. He’s 0-for-13. But, he also had never won at the Indy Road Course before and that streak ending a couple of weeks ago. Plus, Dixon finished runner-up at Iowa last year.
Will Power finished 15th last year and has just one podium in 11 Iowa starts. Pagenaud, has no podiums in eight Iowa tries. Rossi, has never finished on the lead lap in four Iowa tries prior.
“Man, Road America was a rough weekend,” Power said. “We had some issues in the pits, and I made some mistakes on track. We reviewed what we did over the weekend as a team, and the Verizon Chevy guys and I feel much more confident heading into this weekend at Iowa. Ovals can be so much fun to race, but it will be a pretty tiring weekend between the two races and how hot it’s supposed to be. Getting rest between the two races will be key, so that’s something I’m keeping in mind. I’m really excited to get back at it this weekend and turning our luck around.”
Newgarden (4 top 2’s in his last 6 tries) is the defending race winner at Iowa. He led 245 of 300 laps last July there. He main be Dixon’s only rival this weekend.
“We had such an awesome race there last year in the Hitachi Chevy, so I think we have a good shot to turn it back around with two shots for a win,” said Newgarden. “It’s just one of those places that tend to fit my driving style, so I always feel great racing there. Speedways like Iowa can lead to a lot of close, wheel-to-wheel racing, so the guys have worked hard to put together a great car to help with that. I’m also looking forward to once again seeing fans at Iowa this weekend. They help provide different energy that all of us drivers feed off of, so we’re always happy to see them back at the track.”
Then, it’s to Mid-Ohio where Dixon won last year and has amassed six wins at over the course of his career. If we keep going this route, Dixon may have this championship wrapped up by the Indy 500.
Joking. Or am I?