However, Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi isn’t downplaying his team’s effort as he feels they’re pretty strong too. After all, he has finished second in both races to start the season and sits second in points, two points behind Helio Castroneves.
“Every race pays the same amount of points,” Dixon says. “My issue has been the start of the season, so we’ve tried to start strong. We’ve tried to be consistent, maybe not take as many risks as we should, but also emphasize qualifying in a good position and making the most of it.”
Looking historically over the past four years, it is the best spot Dixon has sat since his 2008 IZOD IndyCar Series title run. In the opening races of the 2008 season, he won at Homestead-Miami, followed by a victory at Indianapolis. That season saw Dixon score six victories and 14 top-five finishes in 17 races.
Last year, he finished third and second in the opening races on his way to finishing third in points. In 2010, he finished sixth and 18th to open the season, which saw him finish third in points. Two years ago in 2009, he finished 16th and 15th in the opening races to finish second.
“Points championships are so tough,” Dixon continues. “(We’re trying to) sort of taking out a page of Dario (Franchitti’s) notebook from the last few years and being consistent. He hasn’t won as many races as some others, but he’s always there on a bad day and a good day. We have to try to do the same thing.”
Dixon feels he could’ve won at Barber Motorsports Park this past weekend, if not for some pit road issues.
“I believe the middle stop and the last stop we had a bit of a fumble on one of the tires,” Dixon notes. “The middle one took a lot longer. Tires are done normally about the same time as fuel. You feel the fuel pull out and you’re still on the air jack.
“On the out lap I would say Will gained two or three seconds just because he wasn’t in traffic. Then I think they were maybe a little bit quicker on their stop as well. Between that and trying to get out of the pits behind (E.J.) Viso, I’d say we lost three or four seconds in that, which gave Will the advantage.”
Dixon says that made the difference in Team Penske driver Will Power winning as having the lead was a big advantage.
“If you get out front, it’s very hard to stay close,” Dixon continues. “There’s so many high-speed corners. Eventually you burn the tires off. To have a dominant race and a car I think definitely if we were out front at the end would have led to the same thing and pulled away from Will. It’s frustrating when you’re in a scenario like that and you don’t collect on the win. I’d say the last two years that was probably kind of as good as we were going to get.”
Dixon knows though that his team does need to step their game up a little bit if they want to catch Penske.
“With our package, I don’t think we’re there yet,” he says. “But I think once we get a few things figured out on the car and the engine package, I think we’re going to be strong. If we can put points in the bag at the moment, try and gain on that later in the year, we should be in a good position.”