INDIANAPOLIS — Scott Dixon is running out of goals. What more does a guy with six NTT IndyCar Series championships and 50 career wins have left to accomplish? Well for Dixon, he’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Hanging it up isn’t on his radar yet.
“You know, I don’t think you can ever really put a time scale on it or an age or anything like that,” said the defending series champion. “I think everybody is pretty unique and pretty different. If anything, I think we’ve seen the longevity, not just in our sport but across sports in general. There’s so many different ways, whether it’s the mental game or training or anything like that.
“The thing I love about the INDYCAR Series is that it’s not really a constant — well, it is a constant. It’s constantly changing, whether it’s the track venues to the style of the car or updates like the aeroscreen for safety and things like that that do change the challenge of what we have at hand for a driver or for the engineering group, as well.
“I don’t know, I think it probably comes down to when you’re not enjoying it. I love the sport more than anything at the moment. I feel very lucky, I feel very privileged to be able to do what I do and especially with the group of people that I get to work with. Probably the most inspiring part of it is when you walk through the doors at Chip Ganassi Racing, the competition level or the competitiveness that you feel in that environment, it’s pretty intense. I think that’s definitely one that drives me.
“And then you look at the competitiveness of the field is insane. The will of wanting to try and win and then keep that winning situation, it tugs at you pretty hard.”
Dixon said his ultimate goal for this year outside of the obvious, an Indy 500 triumph, would be to repeat as a champion. Out of his six titles (2003, 2008, 2013, 2015, 2018, 2020) none of which have come in consecutive years. Why not do something for the first time of his career?
“Yeah, it would be amazing. Seven sounds a lot better than six, so why not? I’ve never been able to repeat, so that’s goal number one, is to go back-to-back,” said Dixon.
“It’s always tough. I think even to win the last two out of three has been pretty exceptional for our team, and it’s been fantastic for PNC and welcoming them to the sport and onboard the 9.
“I don’t know, you’ve got to take it step by step. It’s easy to come in and say, Yeah, we’re going to repeat, we want to repeat, we want to win a seventh championship. But trying to secure that is something totally different.
To me it would mean everything to me to be able to do that. I think even to get the sixth was — in the current landscape is extremely tough and very difficult to do. Very proud of that. The obvious goal is to add to that. That will be what we’re trying to do.”
Dixon says that the talent level has drastically changed over the years. Not just on the driver side, but the team side too. He thinks with the current formula, the equality between the small team and big team, there is no small team anymore the way the rules play. There’s not much that a big team can out-spend anybody on anymore.
“I’d say the competition, I’ve never seen it so strong,” he said. “I think when you look at it from a driver standpoint to a team standpoint and the options that you have, it’s pretty packed, man. I think it’s as strong as ever. And the talent that you’re getting is maybe the best that we’ve seen in the last 10 years or so.”
To make that competition scared though, Dixon found areas to which he can still improve upon too.
“I think we’ve found some better understanding of maybe the process of — it was kind of weird, I think ’19 we maybe had the best average of the field for qualifying position, and then ’20 was a pretty rough year, especially for road course I think for our team as a whole,” said Dixon. “Street course was okay, ovals were pretty good, with the exception I think of Iowa where we had a problem.
“We have some ideas. I think the problem that we’ve faced I think in recent years is when you do this testing, especially in winter months, the tracks are very cold and the conditions are extremely different to what you get to. And what at least we’ve found is that the tires are quite sensitive even just to ambient conditions or UV on the track.
“You think you have a process, but we probably won’t understand it until we get into a few races and see if we can rectify it. Personally I think there’s definitely some things I needed to change and apply differently, which I’m pretty cognizant of that and have tried to apply that I think to some of our testing thus far, even though we’ve only had two or three days.
“It’ll be a season-long process, I think, trying to get to that point and knowing if we can fix it.”