2013 INdycAR sERIEs
hunter while his quarry, Castroneves,
seemed able to extend his points lead even
on weekends where he underperformed.
So yes, there was a sense of urgency about
Dixon’s mission. But still, having seen his
title rival retire from the first Houston race,
it’s admirable that Scott stayed on the gas,
determined to maximize the opportunity.
And when Penske No. 3 bit the dust again
on Sunday, Penske No. 12 got no respite;
Dixon pressured Power to the end.
“Yeah, well what really sticks in my
mind is 2008, when we started doing
that driving-for-points crap,” says Dixon.
“We nearly lost the title! If you go into a
race thinking fourth is OK, you maybe
ease off a bit, and suddenly you’re seventh.
Then seventh can easily become 11th and
now you’re racing guys you don’t want to
be near, the ones with nothing to lose…
“Like Chip always says, ‘This race pays
the same as the last one and the same as
the next.’ You can’t say ‘I’ll go for it here,
but not there.’ You’ve got to keep pushing.”
The need to take full advantage of the
good days is a lesson Dixon learned from
years when his title hopes were nixed in the
closing stages by unlikely circumstances.
“Even going into Fontana with a decent
points lead, I was thinking about whether
some stupid thing might happen, like a
sensor failing, or the car not firing up on
the grid, and so on. I now have three
championships and that feels great, but
still the years that stick out in my mind
are the near-misses – running out of fuel
on the last corner of the last lap in ’07;
losing it on strategy in the final race of
’09. They piss you off, but also give you
the energy and willingness to go out
there and try your hardest all over again.”
In 2013, that’s what he did right to the
last. Despite the potential repercussions
should it all have gone wrong, Dixon wasn’t
afraid to dig deep and go wheel to wheel
with anyone that night in Fontana. That
he ultimately finished only fifth was
because his car, like many out there, was
suffering engine overheating issues.
And so in this most peculiar IndyCar
season of fluctuating form and fortune,
Bretzman, crew chief Ricky Davis and
team manager and strategist Mike Hull.
“This was one of the best years in terms
of the job that we did together to get
speed out of the car,” says Dixon. “But
with the competition being so close in
IndyCar now, we had no choice: we had to
do that, raise our level, increase attention
to detail. Ten different winners from
19 races shows that you’ve got to be on
your A-game or you’ll miss by a mile.”
The Ganassi team unwittingly proved
that point in the first half of the year but,
not for the first time, also proved peerless
in executing a mid-season turnaround.
Chip’s team has won championships in
more dominant fashion than this, but few
can have brought him more satisfaction.
The driver who’s been his cornerstone for
the past 13 years at last has his third
IndyCar title at the age of 33. What
records might these guys set together?
“I don’t even think about that kind of
stuff,” shrugs Dixon, but adds with a smile,
“I just hope we don’t have to wait another
five years for our next championship.”
Such is IndyCar’s
fierce competition, a
driver cannot simply
carry his car. Dixon
and race engineer Ben
more than ever on
tech details to unlock
the DW12’s speed. P e r r