Scott Dixon looks to gain momentum at Honda Indy 200
LEXINGTON, Ohio (AP) — Scott Dixon just turned 39 and he and his wife are expecting their third child in December. There are no plans, however, to slow his pursuit of another title.
“You’ll get to a point when you find you’re competitive or not, or the small things start annoying, then it’s probably time to move on,” Dixon said Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. “Right now, I feel like I really enjoy the sport. I love it still. I hope it continues for a while longer. I love it, that’s all I can say.”
The defending IndyCar Series champion loves the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. He has won it five times, most recently in 2014.
Qualifying on the 13-turn, 2.58-mile permanent road course is Saturday. The 90-lap, 203-mile race is Sunday.
The driver of the No. 9 Honda could use a victory to close the gap in the chase for another championship.
Josef Newgarden of Team Penske drove his No. 2 Chevrolet to victory at the Iowa Speedway on July 20 and has a 29-point lead (487-458) over second-place Alexander Ross in the standings. Simon Pagenaud is third (429) while Dixon, second at Iowa, is fourth (389) with 12 of the 17 races completed.
Newgarden, the 2017 Mid-Ohio winner, looks forward to the race.
“I’m definitely a fan of road courses like Mid-Ohio, especially because of all of the fans that show up there,” he said. “There’s always a really great crowd that gets us all really pumped up for the race.”
Dixon, the winningest IndyCar driver with 45 victories, is intent on halting Newgarden’s momentum.
“It’s definitely been a long time but Chip Ganassi Racing has had success here in the past so we’re confident in our team and our car,” Dixon said.
Ganassi has 10 wins at the course, including seven of the 12 sanctioned by IndyCar, beginning with Dixon’s first Mid-Ohio win in 2007.
“They’ve had a great list of drivers, for one, and the engineering group,” Dixon said. “Success is a combination of a lot of things. It’s never one thing; it’s 500 little things.”
In his past four Mid-Ohios since winning five years ago, Dixon has finished fourth, 22nd (last), ninth and fifth (last year when Rossi won).
“Coming back to a place you’ve had success is always nice but honestly since 2014 we haven’t had too much pace here,” Dixon said. “We went through a revamping from last year on some of the road courses procedure and just how we approach the weekend and made some setup changes.”
Whatever happens in racing, Dixon is looking forward to having a baby join daughters Poppy, 10, and Tilly, who will be 8 in September.
“It’s been a bit of lull between Tilly and the new one, a Christmas baby will be a lot of fun, too,” he said.
Around the course:
Rookie Colton Herta drove the fastest lap in the second of two practices sessions Friday at 123.671 mph in his Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda. Simon Pagenaud drove his Chevrolet to second at 123.292. Team Penske teammate Will Power was third (123.176).
Dixon was seventh (122.982). Newgarden, who near the end of the second practice lost control in a turn and hit a tire wall, was 11th at 122.595.
The surprise of the day was Graham Rahal, the 2015 winner from nearby Columbus. He finished with the slowest time of the 23 cars in the afternoon practice (120.389) in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.