IndyCar Series: Motorola Indy 300 presented by Jackson Rancheria
Topics: Motorola Indy 300
August 26, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Helio, thank you very much.
We're joined by Scott Dixon, his fourth win of the season. This is his third win of the season on road courses. It's the 10th win of his career. His win today puts him atop the championship points standings with 560; Dario Franchitti second with 556, Tony Kanaan third at 498; Wheldon and Hornish were mathematically eliminated from the championship race after today's results.
This is our first change at the top of the standings since Milwaukee, nine races ago. Scott actually takes over the championship points lead since he was atop the standings at Indianapolis back in May.
Scott, if you would, take us through your day.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, the whole weekend's been tough for us. I think it's the first time for us to have a Dallara chassis here. To be honest, qualifying, we really haven't got it sorted out.
AGR, looked like they had a bit more mechanical grip than us, especially power down off of a lot of the tight corners. We just couldn't figure that out. It's kind of strange because come the race, they seem to come back to us.
Today was very frustrating, especially having to deal with T.K. a lot. He was not playing fair at all. We were all warned in the drivers meetings about team tactics. I think IRL maybe was watching another race because it was definitely going on.
It was tough for us. We tried to figure out strategies to jump ahead. We did at some points. Just on cold tires we didn't have enough. T.K. sort of got us back.
Then towards the end, it was kind of ironic when, you know, Marco and Dario hit each other. I think Dario's car was damaged. I think we were a little bit better on cold tires and restarts anyway. It looked like he was trying to have to save fuel because he wasn't warming his tires up on that last restart. That just enabled us to have a really good go at him. He slipped up a little bit in two, we had the run going into three. Pretty much then, it was clean sailing.
The race was all about strategies. We were trying to save fuel early on. All kinds of people were trying to do the same things. Very hard to tell what was going on until sort of the last stint.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. When Dario had the damaged front wing, were you pretty confident at that point whether you got him in the first, second or third turn that he was pretty much a sitting duck?
SCOTT DIXON: It's always hard to tell because I've been in situations like that where you've damaged a car, you end up going bloody quicker. You know, I couldn't see the car obviously because it was in front of me. I didn't know what his wing was like. The team had obviously said that he had some right front damage or left front. I'm not sure actually. Must have been left front damage, damage to the front. That is going to slow you down.
But I think the problem with him was definitely warming his tires. He had to save the fuel from what our team was telling me, and it looked like he struggled just to really get going on that restart.
Q. I heard your team notify the IRL that they heard AGR tell Tony to hold you up. I know that made you frustrated to hear it. How was he doing it? What was he doing?
SCOTT DIXON: You mean, you could work those words out?
Q. I cleaned them up.
SCOTT DIXON: You know, he was just obviously slowing down. When we had clear laps and he was at speed, we'd be doing 77s. When they came across and told T.K. to, you know, slow down because Dario was getting into lap traffic, obviously started running in the 79s, almost two seconds a lap slower.
In the middle of the corner he was just crawling. You can't go anywhere. Off the line is very dirty. The only place you need to be quick here is out of the carrousel, so nobody can get a run into seven. It's the same going into 11.
You know, there were definitely two sections of a lap that he was making it very slow and very pronounced that he was trying to give Dario a gap. Of course, it's frustrating. If that's how it's going to go, it's just a bit sad really.
Q. The out-laps today during practically every stop were pretty intense. Could you talk a bit about those?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, the out-laps, you're pretty much watching your mirrors. It was almost you weren't watching in front of you. It was tough to try, by turn four or six, you kind of had the tires up to temperature.
The problem was that the car -- my car was very loose on new tires. I was definitely struggling with that. I think if Dario hadn't short-filled on that last one, I think we would have got him quite happily, but they definitely played a good strategy there.
But, yeah, it was very intense. You knew when you had to get out, you had to be standing, but it was very hard. You didn't want to spin out and lose all those kind of points. There was a lot of compromise going on, but it was very intense those first couple laps.
Q. You're known for keeping somewhat of a low profile. With that in mind, does it bother you at all that this victory might be overshadowed by that crash? Or do you prefer that?
SCOTT DIXON: It doesn't bother me whatsoever. We won the race and that's what matters. It shows on the points board. You know, I'm sure that's going to be a topic of a lot of segments on TV. I have no problem with that. I think we needed to do what we needed to do. It's all fine by me.
Q. Did you see the crash between Marco and Dario? In a case like that, is it anyone at fault?
SCOTT DIXON: That was kind of tough. You know, I think Marco had obviously thrown down some pretty good laps. We came in because we thought our tires were sort of at their end. We could probably go another couple laps on fuel.
The stint before that it really hurt us. T.K. sort of jumped back in front of us. I think if we pitted the next lap after he did, we would have jumped in quite comfortably, but we just started to slow down.
I could definitely see what happened. It was kind of one of those situations where, you know, Marco was coming out of the pits, Dario was at full speed. Dario probably felt, because Marco was his teammate, that he was obviously going to give him some room.
But I really don't think Marco knew he was there. It was just one of those things, coming out of the pits, you're trying to get out as fast as possible. Those kind of things happen.
Q. It appears that the team owner over there is upset at the guy who used to be leading the championship until today. When you kind of see something like that going on, your eyes have to be getting bigger. It only plays into your hands. How do you feel about all that?
SCOTT DIXON: Well, you know, it's good for us. Obviously we've got a lot of momentum out of the three in a row, then this last one. To be honest, the last two races they've had us covered. For some unknown reason we've still come out on top.
I think it's six races in a row we've earned more points than them. That is obviously going to cause a bit of questioning within the team and obviously a lot of stress. For us, we've just got to play as much as we can on that.
It's definitely tough for the amount of points they've lost over the course of those races. The more the merrier, to be honest.
Q. Considering all the frustration you were having on the track, four against two, how satisfying is this victory for you today?
SCOTT DIXON: It was big. You know, I think after last year we had a fair bit of unfinished business. Our car was very strong. I think we deserved to win last year. But, you know, you always have these problems. It's a problem, when you have a good weekend, you kind of think what's going to happen, what's going to go wrong. It sure did the last year.
I don't know. Like all of it's good, positive stuff. We've just got to try and build on it and move forward with it.
Q. You've been chasing Dario for weeks now. You're in the lead, albeit a slim one. How much does the strategy change now that you're playing from in front instead of from behind? Do you change the mindset at all since the lead is so slim?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I think with the competition in the league it's very tough to sort of give anything up. You've really got to keep the same pressure on. We've got to keep the same mindset going into each weekend: trying to be the fastest we can, fastest of everyone, each practice session put as much pressure as we can on them.
You know, I think they may have let up at some points of the year because they did have quite a healthy lead. We've just got to try to go out and win. That's all we can do. I don't think we can change our strategy one bit.
Q. When you saw them get together, the way they raced you earlier, did you think they got what they deserved, karma? Does that enter your mind?
SCOTT DIXON: It sure did (laughter).
Q. You've never been one to kind of toot your own horn about your accomplishments. You swept the road courses. Personally, does that mean something to you?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, it means a lot to me. It's a hell of an accomplishment. I definitely wouldn't say I've done it by myself. The team have been a massive part of me getting these victories, not just on pit lane, but the R&D that they do, all the work. Everybody back at the workshop that make and prepare these cars definitely make it a lot easier for me.
You know, for me and for my little record book, how I feel about it, it's tremendous. But a lot of it definitely is owed to them.
Q. You've won a championship once before. How does this one feel now that you're in a real battle to try to win it again?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, obviously we're working on trying to win a second. It feels a lot different this time around. I think in 2003, it was a bit of a surprise, the performance that we had going out winning the first race, having three victories, then I think five or six DNFs. It was a very different season.
This year, if you had that situation, you wouldn't be even in the top five. It's definitely a lot more on the edge this year, a lot more hectic. I think the fact that everybody has the same car, the same engine, makes it very different.
I think in '03, we had a performance gain with Toyota. Same for the guys that won in '04 and '05 with the Honda.
This is definitely a more gratifying fight, definitely more on the edge, a lot more tougher.
Q. I noticed a magazine article where you were interviewed by your girlfriend, described you as smiling more, being happier. On the outside, do you feel like you have this massive personality change?
SCOTT DIXON: No, not really. You know, I guess I have changed a lot. I think Emma has been a great friend and definitely we have a great relationship. We're obviously getting married in February. I think she has changed me a bit. Everybody says it's for the positive. Definitely must be a good thing (laughter).
But, no, she's a fantastic girl. She's brought a different side out of me. That's what was meant to happen.
Q. How has she changed you?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. It's just me. I'm probably a little more outgoing. She's definitely -- being English, they like to talk. She's very, very outgoing.
But, no, she's just very personable. That's changed the views. I think a lot of ways, maybe outlook on life, all kinds of stuff. It's just been -- I don't know, I guess good things have rubbed off of her onto me.
Q. You keep talking about how difficult it is for your team to get a handle on the Dallara chassis. Here you've won all three road courses in a Dallara chassis where you were using the Panoz before. Has it really been that difficult?
SCOTT DIXON: I think I said, you know, we've struggled with getting the speed out of it in qualifying. I think our best qualifying this year was probably second. Did we have a second? I'm not sure. But we had some poles and stuff in the G Force. We sort of got into a rhythm with that car.
After three or four years with that, now you're competing against teams that have had this car up to five years now, four years. It's making it very tough.
You're only looking for a few 10ths here and there. That's something we need to work on over the next few tests, hopefully in the off-season. You know, the race car, I'm very happy. The race, they sort of come back to us a bit.
Q. Last year you were kind of in a gentlemenly type fight with the Penske drivers. Ganassi and Penske drivers fight each other fair. Do you feel this year AGR has brought a gang-fight mentality with them? It seems like four against one out there.
SCOTT DIXON: Unfortunately, Dan's had kind of a rough run on the road courses. Unfortunately, again, that seems to be where AGR is very strong. Three of them in front of me in this race, one closely behind.
Then Mid-Ohio, you had all four of them in front of us after qualifying. It kind of has been four on one. Luckily at Mid-Ohio they all sort of took each other out, which was a big help. Here, you know, that made our day much better, them working together.
But that's why they have four cars. That's the advantage they have. We're working very hard to try and help Dan get a lot better. Just I think the guy's obviously quick. And then the warmups this morning, I think it was a 10th off me, fifth overall. In the warmup I was not happy with my car. He was not bad with his car, but, I was like, Dude, you need to do that stuff on Saturday for qualifying.
The team's going to work on that. He's been a great teammate this year and definitely helping me tremendously.
Q. Next is Detroit, a new course, then Chicago. What are your expectations for those two races?
SCOTT DIXON: Detroit's kind of gonna to be a bit of Australian unknown. I think our emphasis is probably going to be on qualifying well. It looks like it's a circuit that they ran in '96 or '97. Maybe people like T.K. and Dario have been there in Champ Car.
I did the last revised circuit in 2001, but it was slightly different through the mid part there. So I think some of us are going to have a little bit of an advantage maybe in the first practice. Our test last week at Sebring was sort of more in line with trying to find grip on bumpy circuits. That's for Detroit.
Hopefully we feel a little better with general grip and qualifying at Detroit, because I think that's going to be big.
Unfortunately I think the three guys or four guys left in the championship are going to be very tough on both those circuits.
Q. You were getting a lot of pressure from Helio Castroneves at the finish. Did he actually tap you in the last couple laps?
SCOTT DIXON: No. I think we may have hit each other sort of about 20 laps to go going into seven. Nothing towards the end. I know he was very good under brakes going into 11. For the first few laps, the first sort of 10 or 15 laps, looked like he was trying to sort of hit T.K. every lap.
He was definitely pushing very hard. Luckily enough I think we just had sort of enough grip to get out of nine to get into a run into 11 that he wasn't too close. We were very loose on the last stint. I was glad that last stint was quite short.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, thank you very much. Congratulations.
SCOTT DIXON: Thank you very much.
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