Season Review: Scott Dixon
November 28, 2006 | 8:50 A.M. EST
And right off the bat, he did just that - and in a major way.
Dixon teamed with fellow Chip Ganassi Racing team members Dan Wheldon, the newest addition to the organization, and NASCAR's Casey Mears to win the prestigious Rolex 24 at Daytona, the crown jewel event in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.
From there, the Auckland, New Zealand native was able to carry the momentum gained at Daytona International Speedway and translate it into IndyCar Series success - scoring six straight top-10 finishes to start the season, including a victory in the Watkins Glen Indy GP at Watkins Glen International.
Despite stumbling at Richmond International Raceway, scoring an 11th place finish, 26-year-old Dixon stayed in championship contention by scoring three straight top-10s - highlighted by his victory in the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway, his first win on an oval since the 2003 campaign. The race was also the first time that Target Chip Ganassi Racing scored a 1-2 finish in IRL competition.
Unfortunately for the 2003 series champion, a misjudgment in fuel calculations combined with bad luck at Michigan International Speedway cost him his chance at a second career IRL title.
While running second in the Firestone Indy 400, Dixon was preparing to bring his No. 9 Target Honda into the pits, but a yellow flag came out just as he was about to enter for maintenance. As a result, he ran out of fuel while running under caution. After getting a push back into the pits for fuel, he went down two laps and had to battle just to finish the day in 16th place.
Even though eventual champion Sam Hornish Jr. also had a bad day at Michigan, finishing 19th, Dixon's problem dropped him to fourth in the standings.
In the final three races of the year, Dixon captured three straight top five finishes, including finishing second to teammate Wheldon in the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway. However, it was too little, too late, as those ahead of him failed to make any mistakes - losing the title by a mere 15 points.
Although he came short of his overall goal, Dixon was happy with the season as a whole as he not only worked well with his new teammate, but the team also adapted extremely fast to the new engine and chassis combination - switching from a Panoz-Toyota package to a Dallara-Honda arrangement.
"I'm surprised in many ways we did catch up so quickly changing chassis because there is a lot of work, aerodynamics, things like that, trying to find speed. The team did that very well," said Dixon, whose final statistics included six podium finishes, 9 top fives and 12 top 10s in 14 races. "I think we can carry the momentum to next year.
"Everything's looking pretty rosy at the moment."
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