Motorsport: Dixon still in the hunt for more titles

By Eric Thompson

Kiwi IndyCar champion chasing victory as season starts in Florida.
Scott Dixon is now fifth on the all-time IndyCar winners' list. Picture / Chevrolet Racing
Scott Dixon is now fifth on the all-time IndyCar winners' list. Picture / Chevrolet Racing

There are two types of international sportsmen. Those who are happy to win just one major title in their career and those who regard numbers as just numbers. It's the winning that counts for them.

New Zealand IndyCar driver Scott Dixon is firmly in the second group. He's looking to win more races and more titles starting at this weekend's opening race of the 2016 IndyCar championship at St Petersburg, Florida.

His record in the American single-seater series is already a stellar one. He is fifth on the all-time win list with only AJ Foyt (67), Mario Andretti (52), Michael Andretti (42) and Al Unser snr (39) in front of him. Dixon has 38 victories and by the end of the season he'll be in front of Unser and possibly even Michael Andretti. By the end of his career, and he's in no hurry to hang up his helmet, Mario Andretti's total could easily be under threat.

The Kiwi is the best IndyCar racer of his generation on wins alone and has four championship titles and an Indianapolis 500 to his name.

Last season Dixon left it late to make a charge for the title and had only a mathematical chance of winning at the last race at Sonoma, California. He had to win and Juan Pablo Montoya (who led the series from the opening race) had to finish better than sixth. The Colombian did in fact finish sixth to tie the title race on points only for Dixon to triumph on a race-win countback.

This year his goals are the same as they have always been at the start of the season: get a win at St Petersburg (something he hasn't managed yet with three second-place finishes) and win another Borg Warner Trophy at the Indy 500.

"Winning last year was one of the best of them all [titles]. It's about never giving up and expecting to win every race," said Dixon. "This year we should have a good shot at winning [titles]. We've spent a lot of time in the off-season trying to sort out our troublesome areas. And I'd like to think we could improve on last year, which would give us a better shot at winning the title properly rather than what happened last year.

"Having said that, no one really had a great year and no one really stamped their mark. Everyone had bad races and made mistakes, and no one was super consistent.

"We definitely have to lift our game in a number of places."

Dixon doesn't think all the changes introduced for 2017 will make that much difference. Things may be a little closer between the manufacturers this year and the racing will always be close. The key is to find out who gets the best start to the season and can build a bit of breathing space early on.

"There are quite a few changes to the cars for this season. Honda gets more than us [Chevy] with the aero kits, there is a new brake system and we've all got new engines," he said. "There are lots of unknowns even after testing as no one really shows what they've got until you go racing.

"At the recent test at Sonoma we had a long list of stuff to get through and having a week would have been great, but we have to make the most of the time we have."

This year will be Dixon's 15th in the category, all of them with Chip Ganassi Racing, making him the longest serving driver for the outfit.

Ganassi is a hard taskmaster and rewards those who perform consistently well. In Dixon he has the best with the Kiwi winning at least one race every year since 2005 and not finishing outside the top three come year's end since 2007.

- NZ Herald

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