Road To Chicagoland: Scott Dixon
September 5, 2006 | 9:00 A.M. EST
He hopes to follow the same formula to the 2006 crown.
With just one race remaining, Dixon lies fourth in the season point standings just 21 points behind Helio Castroneves. The 26-year-old New Zealander is the only driver to finish every race this season.
“Straight out of the box we had good speed. I expected to be back at the top, once we had the right equipment,” Dixon said. “Throughout every race weekend, one of the (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) cars could have won the race, but I don’t think we finished where we should have a few times. I guess it’s good to be disappointed with finishing second, because the last few years, second was like a win.”
From the opening test of the season, the Ganassi drivers have shown they would be a force to be reckoned with. Dixon or Wheldon paced Open Tests at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Dixon posted top-10 finishes in every event through Texas. Included in that stretch was a repeat win at Watkins Glen International.
“Watkins is an easy one to pick out because it was back-to-back (wins),” Dixon said. “The conditions that day were pretty crazy. In qualifying, I didn’t get what I wanted out of it. We went from provisional pole to fourth in the top-six shootout, but I love that circuit, and I love all the road courses we go to.”
Dixon also captured a win at Nashville Superspeedway, firmly entrenching himself as a title contender
“It was a great race, especially with the guitar you get there,” Dixon said. “It’s pretty special, and there’s not another trophy that you get that’s like it.”
Still with the success that he’s had this season, Dixon feels like he could be in control of the title race if things had fallen right.
“There are two or three races that pop up in my head that I think we could have won, and I think there are three or four races that Dan (Wheldon) thinks he could have won,” he said. “The Indy 500 was a race we were looking forward to capturing. Dan had a fast car and mine was pretty decent. I still don’t understand how we didn’t come away with that one.”
And as the series heads to Chicagoland Speedway for the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300, Dixon is happy with a return to the front and sees himself in perfect position to capture a second series title.
“The situation that I see at the moment is Dan and myself have no pressure,” he said. “The two Penske cars have to make sure they finish. We’ve got to try to win the last race, but if we don’t, we tried our best. They need to be very careful.
“In 2003, when I won, two of the contenders took themselves out by hitting each other and falling back. I don’t think it will be any different this year. There’s no doubt this championship will come down to a few inches and right down to the wire.”