The Dominant Dixon
June 19, 2008 | 1:45 P.M. EST
The inaugural Iowa event for the IndyCar Series took place last year in June. Scott Dixon won the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award, and Dario Franchitti was the race winner. Dixon finished the race 10th due to problems with the steering, but he also led 10 laps of the 250-lap competition.
Dixon needs to lead 85 more laps to become the fifth driver to lead 2,000 laps during his or her career. The other four drivers to lead at least 2,000 laps have been Sam Hornish Jr. (3,428), Helio Castroneves (2,682), Dan Wheldon (2,674) and Tony Kanaan (2,182).
Currently, Dixon is 35 points ahead in the standings over Helio Castroneves. Dixon's 2008 season contains three victories and he has led 566 of the last 1,053 laps (including 58 laps in the last five consecutive races). He's strong, confident, and consistent in his game right now.
Winning last year's pole while gaining a top-10 finish, and going into this weekend's race as the points leader definitely gives Dixon momentum, and an advantage.
However, his competition is also strong. Twelve drivers who are entered in Sunday's Iowa Corn Indy 250 raced this event last year, and six of them led at least one lap, with Vitor Meira (71 laps) and Helio Castroneves (59 laps) leading the pack.
That aside, Dixon goes into this weekend after some R&R during the off-week. He spent time in Turks and Caicos with his wife, Emma. They had plans to visit family and friends in London but were not able to fit it into their excursion. After a fantastic vacation, a refreshed Dixon is a dangerous ingredient to the mix when he's already at the top of his game.
Furthermore, with drivers preparing after an off-week as midseason approaches, the entire competition at Iowa should be an interesting start to a grueling summer schedule. The IndyCar Series brings three road course races and three short ovals into the mix in the next six consecutive races, starting with this weekend's short track at Iowa going into Richmond, and then Watkins Glen Int'l, Nashville, Mid-Ohio, and Kentucky.
Dixon's crew chief, Ricky Davis, has his own insight as the IndyCar Series rapidly approaches the busy season mid-point.
"First, the preparation starts with earlier hours at the shop," Davis said. "I make sure I arrive at least an hour before the guys, so I have a list and plan of action for the day in place so we keep our eye on the game and stay focused during the short time that we have between races. This is definitely much easier to do when we are doing well.
"You really have to focus on the big picture, which is definitely the championship to us. The most challenging time I faced with keeping everyone focused was in 2005 when we struggled on track, and it came down to working with everyone's personalities to make even minor accomplishments serve as pieces of motivation to us (advancing in a pit stop, keeping the car intact). As a crew member, you have to focus on what we have control over on race day which really comes down to giving the driver the best car we can and performing flawless pit stops. It's the focus that keeps you moving."
New Paint Scheme
Dixon's firesuit and paint scheme go from bold, red to a cool, refreshing color of blue. Dixon will run his No. 9 Dallara-Honda in a special blue Commit color scheme at Iowa Speedway.
Dixon will run the No. 9 Commit Honda (Chassis IR6-006) which drove him across the finish line and into victory lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this year. Dixon also scored victories at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio with this chassis in 2007.
Fans View from Home
ABC viewers will get a glimpse of the point leader's progress through an in-car camera, sponsored by Honda, that will track Dixon's racing at Iowa.
Sunday's Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer will be broadcast live on ABC at 1 p.m. (ET).