As the 2018 IndyCar season ends, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon speaks about a possible fifth title, his new contract, and what he hasn’t mastered yet.
This Verizon IndyCar Series season has been an interesting one for Scott Dixon. On Sunday, he can win his fifth championship, which would move him past former teammate Dario Franchitti for the most ever.
But Dixon also signed a new contract with Chip Ganassi Racing just a few months ago, moved into third place on the all-time wins list, and is the subject of a new documentary that comes out next month.
That’s a lot for any athlete to have happen, let alone all within the same window of time. But it hasn’t fazed Dixon, who has become renowned within motorsports for his ability to handle every opportunity — and any challenge — that comes his way.
FanSided spoke to Scott Dixon ahead of Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to get his thoughts on the 2018 IndyCar season. Read what he had to tell us below, and then watch him race Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
FanSided: You went through contract negotiations in the middle of a season where you’re the championship leader. How did you balance focusing on the current season while also trying to decide your future in IndyCar?
Scott Dixon (SD): It’s part of the process. Its not the first time and it’s probably not going to be the last time you go through it, and everybody in the field does. I think this year was a little bit different because there was more noise about it, more kind of in the media, which I’m not really sure how many times that happens.
And when you’re fighting for a championship or you race anywhere, it can make it a little bit tricky, because you don’t want to change the situation you’re in or have things come out that shouldn’t. But I think we coped with how prominent it was in the media.
FanSided: You’ll be back with Chip Ganassi Racing, where you’ve been since 2003. What about the team made you want to return, rather than pursue some pretty big other opportunities?
SD: You’ve got to look at the landscape, got to look at what’s out there. It’d be silly not to, right? It’s the same for Chip, they’re going to do the same thing, because you don’t want to put too many eggs in one basket.
But for me, I’ve driven for Chip, this is my 17th season, I respect him greatly and what he’s achieved in relatively a young career for a team owner that’s won everything that’s possible in racing.
There’s that and I’ve got crew members that even before Ganassi, we worked together. It’s a 20-year bond with some of them. There’s a lot that goes through your mind in the process, but for me this was definitely the best fit right now, and I’m glad it worked out. I’m really happy that I remain with this team.
FanSided: You have the most championships of any active IndyCar driver. How valuable is that experience in the 2018 IndyCar title fight?
SD: I think it isn’t. It’s like when you get asked about, as a rookie, going to the Indianapolis 500. Sometimes it’s kind of good because you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know the highs and lows to come. If you do it many times, you go oh, I know this is coming. A championship can maybe help you with things, but you can also see that as a bit of a downside too.
I think you’ve just got to be very careful you don’t fall into the situation of points racing. You have to make sure you do what’s natural. If you start to overthink things, then you start doing things you normally wouldn’t.
FanSided: You’ve raced against all the other championship contenders for years. Does your familiarity with their driving help in terms of strategy?
SD: Maybe, but I think everybody always evolves. Alex [Rossi] is a good example of that. There were tracks he struggled at, but he’s adapted well. He’s learned a lot, he’s got really good teammates, his team is really strong across all platforms. I think you’ve got to have an understanding with each other. You know how you can race them and what situations they can get into, that helps a little bit … They could bring something you don’t expect. You’ve got to be quick on your toes.
FanSided: How much have you evolved? How different of a driver would you say Scott Dixon is now?
SD: I would say very different in some aspects and some others not really at all. I think you build up knowledge, which helps, I think, the way that I process the race, and how I try to methodically understand things. But I think for me, the biggest piece of advice or something I really understood is every day in professional motor racing, you don’t know everything. You’re constantly learning, and that for me has definitely proved true a lot.
FanSided: Every season tells a story. What’s the story of Scott Dixon’s 2018 IndyCar season?
SD: This season is different. From a performance aspect, we’ve been good on street courses, where maybe before we were quite average. We normally relied on our strong platform for road courses. Mid-Ohio and Road America, we were kind of there, but we didn’t have maybe some of the dominance that we had previously.
I think much has stayed the same. I think we’re trying to change things up a little bit, to freshen things up and think outside the box. That’s one of the traps you can fall into when you’re at it for 18 years; you keep doing the same thing. And that can be the first sign of insanity too, to keep doing the same thing expecting a different result. It’s like a relationship; you’ve got to try and keep it fresh.
FanSided: You’ve proven that there are a lot of things you’re good at in IndyCar. So what’s one thing that Scott Dixon isn’t good at, or something you’ve wanted to learn how to do?
SD: I would like to be able to juggle. That’s something that I want to do. I think on the racing side, we need to get better at qualifying. Even when we’ve had a dominant car, we’ve come up a bit short for qualifying. I’ve always wanted to learn another language. I tried that once when my kids started going to a French immersion school; I tried and gave up. (laughs)
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