File under “It seemed like a good idea at the time...” Scott Dixon’s
euphoria after sealing his fourth title on a tie-break in Sonoma
last September included a spot of impromptu crowd surfing.
The Verizon IndyCar Series is the world’s fastest, most versatile form of racing, so challenging
for a championship takes a very special kind of driver. Here’s your guide to the class of 2016...
Words Mark Glendenning DRIVER PORTRAITS Michael Levitt/LAT
SMELLS LIKE TEAM SPIRIT
What single-car RLL
CHIP GANASSI RACING
lacked in numbers last
year, it made up for with
a smart, focused team
that took Graham Rahal
to within touching distance of the title, helped
by moments such as a dramatic win at Fontana
(ABOVE). With the ingredients still in place, Rahal
goes into 2016 as one of Honda’s bright hopes.
What makes IndyCar so great? “It’s the best
form of pure racing in the world. Simple as that.
I’ve watched it all, and I haven’t seen anything
that matches it, that’s for sure. I know that
people will say, ‘Yeah, but you’re biased.’
No, I’m not. From the true passing, action,
excitement standpoint, nothing comes close.”
THE MAN wITH THE TARGET
Coming from “complete
obscurity” (as Dixon
puts it) to win last year’s
double-points finale gave
him his fourth IndyCar
Series crown. He has more
career wins than any other
active driver and heads into 2016 as the guy
who everyone else knows they have to beat.
Is there still room for you to get better?
“Absolutely. I think about it every day. You can’t
be complacent in motorsports. You can’t think
that you’re the best out there, because there’s
always someone who’s going to go faster, or a
team that’s going to have better cars or better
strategy. You are constantly learning. The day
you think you know everything and stop learning, it’s probably time to hang it up.”
CLASS OF 2016
RIDING THE MOMENTUM
Early struggles with
Honda’s aero kit meant
that most of Hunter-
Reay’s 2015 highlights
came late. But when they
did show up, they were championship-chasing
caliber, with the last four races yielding two wins
(Iowa and Pocono) and a second-place finish.
The 2012 champ will be looking to carry that
momentum into the new season.
How tough is it to challenge for a
championship in the IndyCar Series? “It’s the
most competitive series on the planet. There’s no
other type of racing where 15 guys could win the
race on any given weekend, so you’ve got to bring
something special to get ahead and stay ahead.
Look at last year, where the championship went
to a tie-break. It’s that close.”