Dixon off to a fast start at Indy, talks about “horrendous” start to season and why the Indy 500 is a perfect race for a “reset”

INDIANAPOLIS — Scott Dixon was the class of the field here last May. He was found near the top of the speed charts in almost every practice session for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Now that we’re back for the 106th Running, he’s picking up where he left off.

Dixon went P1 this morning and P2 this afternoon on a near perfect afternoon of action for opening day of the Month for oval activity. The 2008 Indy 500 champion turned a top lap of 227.768 mph in his No. 9 Dallara-Honda.

“Yeah, day was pretty good I think for all of the Ganassi cars,” Dixon said. “They rolled off well, trying to get through the test. For us the day was definitely fragmented a bit with just how the schedule was, but beautiful weather, great to be out here and happy with the car.”

Dixon, won the pole a year ago but an ill timed first caution of the race during the opening pit sequence caught Dixon out and ended up pinning him a lap down. With having all the data from the last two years of the Aeroscreen, the test last month and now five cars, Dixon says that they’re sitting in a good spot right now even if it rains on Wednesday.

Chip Ganassi Racing hasn’t won this race in a decade, does that change next Sunday? Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

“I think we’ve always got more stuff to test than actual getting on the car and running it,” Dixon continued. “The good thing is with five strong cars, we’ve been able to move through it pretty quickly. Some always driver feel, so you want to check them yourself just to make sure it’s how you would like it.

“Yeah, I think as the week progresses, we’ll get through the meat of it, and I think for all of us it’s really just running in traffic as we saw the majority of people today. Last year it was interesting to see when people switched to qual trims, like we had a lot on Thursday, which was kind of bizarre last year, so we’ll keep an eye on that. But yeah, car feels strong, but always room to improve.”

In saying that, Dixon knows that a solid outing in a double points race is imperative if he’s going to win his record tying 7th series title this Fall. That’s because Dixon has had an abysmal start to the season by his standards. Without a podium and not having had just 1 win in his last 26 starts, he’s not having fun right now. Granted, he’s still had a top 10 in all 5 races run too and is currently 5th in points too, he’s still not having a very Scott Dixon like season he feels.

“It’s been pretty horrendous I think in some circumstances,” said Dixon. “Honestly some were pretty big mistakes that we did as a group that should have never happened. That’s probably two of them. And then I think we got into a bit of a weird snowball effect here on the road course, and honestly we just changed way too much stuff, and when you do that, you just miss the balance, and with how tight the competition is right now, then you’re going to be out to lunch, and we definitely were.”

Dixon notes that his actual race car has been strong. It’s the fact that the 9 team isn’t on their game during qualifying is what’s been problematic. The seven-time series champion has 1 top 5 starting spot all season and has qualified 16th, 13th and 21st respectively the last 3 races. That’s not going to get you to the top step of the podium most weeks.

“I think the cars race really well,” he says. “We’ve had really strong races when you look at the competition of the field. It’s just really been the qualifying effort where we’ve either made mistakes or got ourselves into a bit of trouble.

“I definitely get frustrated. I swear a lot. But that’s just because we’re all competitive. Yeah, it’s always tough. Been in this position before. It’s nothing new. We’ll turn it around and we’ll get on with it.

“I think we just kind of need to reset, calm down and get back to it. I think the road course tire for me has been sensitive at many tracks in the past couple of years, especially once we put the canopy on the car. My driving style is not — I don’t know, I just find it a bit trickier than maybe some of the others.”

Dixon is happy to get to Indy now. He’s qualified on the front row in 3 of the last 5 Indy 500’s.

“Nice to shift gears here at the speedway, and I expect that to continue once we leave here, as well. Look, it’s a totally different environment. It’s a different structure, different track time and obviously a totally different circuit. So yeah, any track is different; you’ve just got to move on. And your weekend, depending on how it starts can be totally different, as well. Yeah, good time to reset.”

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