Motorsport: Dixon keen to end rotten season

By Eric Thompson

New Zealand IndyCar driver Scott Dixon is at odds to understand what's happened to his 2010 season.

The two-time IRL champion and Indianapolis 500 winner can't put his finger on any one thing that has caused his season to pendulum from the good, to the bad, to the ugly and back again.

"In the last part of it [season] there have been shit pit stops. It's been a trying year, but I'm already looking forward to next season," said Dixon.

"I'm looking forward to closing the lid on this year. It's been one of those years that if anything could go wrong in practice, qualifying or with the strategy, it did. We still had two wins but it's just been a trying year. All I want to do is start next year."

Despite all the woes over the past eight months, Dixon has managed to stay in the hunt for the title clinging on to third in the later part of the series.

His season finally came unstuck last time out in Japan, when all he and his Target Chip Ganassi team could manage was a disappointing sixth.

With that result, Dixon's tenacious grip on third place was prised loose and he dropped to fourth, four points behind the resurgent Helio Castroneves.

Both Dixon and Castroneves are out of the race for the title as it's now just between Will Power, who has a 12-point advantage, and Dixon's teammate Dario Franchitti.

"I've been saying all season I don't really understand how we have stayed in third in the championship as it's been just a disappointing year. I wouldn't have even thought we'd be in the top five with the sort of season we've had.

"We're going to try and do our best at the next race [Homestead Miami, Florida] and bounce back to third place," said Dixon.

On a brighter note, Dixon has just left Australia where he was getting a seat fitting for the upcoming Armour All Gold Coast 600 Australian V8 Supercar endurance race.

This international event, part of the overall series, has attracted a who's who of overseas drivers including the top five IndyCar drivers. Dixon has been paired with Todd Kelly.

In 1998 Kelly and Dixon battled it out for bragging rights in the Australian Formula Holden championship with the Kiwi just edging Kelly for the title.

The pair will pilot the No7 Jack Daniel's Holden and Kelly was impressed with Dixon's professionalism by stopping over in Melbourne on his way back to the US from Japan.

"Todd and Rick have achieved a lot, especially given the short amount of time the team has been running," said Dixon. "It's a fantastic facility here and with teams, the first few seasons are definitely hard in terms of making your way.

"But they've had extremely fast cars and maybe not the best luck through the past two seasons, so for me it's also about the relationship.

"Knowing Todd and Rick growing up makes it a lot of fun to come back down here and be a part of what they do," said Dixon.

It's going to be interesting to see how the race will roll, as championship points are up for grabs and it could be a title-deciding event.

While all the regular V8 drivers will know what's what, some of the guest overseas drivers have never been in a V8 Supercar before.

Dixon's partner Todd Kelly isn't in the hunt for the championship so they'll be able to push as hard as they can and not worry too much.

It's a different kettle of fish for title contender James Courtney, the series leader, who is paired with Dario Franchitti. Now that's pressure.

"It's important as there are points involved so you can't just go down there with an 'I-don't-care' attitude. There's definitely a bit of pressure and I'm definitely looking forward to trying something a bit different.

"There's going to be a bit of carnage to be honest, knowing some of the other guys coming," said Dixon.

He may have not raced in tin tops before but Dixon does have a pedigree in combining with other drivers in endurance racing. In 2006 he won the Daytona 24 Hour sports car race in a Riley-Lexus with Dan Wheldon and Casey Mears.

V8 Supercar points
* James Courtney: 2101
* Jamie Whincup: 1922
* Mark Winterbottom: 1862
* Craig Lowndes: 1739
* Shane van Gisbergen: 1689

IndyCar points
* Will Power: 587
* Dario Franchitti: 575
* Helio Castroneves: 501
* Scott Dixon: 497
* Ryan Briscoe: 450

- NZ Herald

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