MADISON, Ill. – Scott Dixon’s 50th NTT IndyCar Series victory helped him gain a small measure of redemption after finishing second in last Sunday’s 104th Indianapolis 500.
The driver he defeated in Saturday’s first race of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 doubleheader at World Wide Technology Raceway was Takuma Sato, the same driver that defeated Dixon last Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Honda finished .1404 seconds in front of Sato’s No. 9 ABeam Honda in the second-closest IndyCar finish at the 1.25-mile short oval.
“Fifty is huge,” Dixon said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever get 50 IndyCar wins, and hopefully we keep adding to that.
“I definitely didn’t enjoy last week. The situation definitely called for a red flag. I didn’t think they were going to make it on fuel. It was kind of a tough one to swallow I think in both scenarios. That’s Indianapolis. I’ve finished second I think four or five times there now. Man, a lot of times I think you’d just rather finish third or fourth or fifth. Sato did a great job. They maximized what they could. I think they knew they couldn’t make it, they had to go with that scenario. It played out well for them.
“Today he was super fast, man. It was crazy to kind of listen to the radio. They were giving me the times. I could see on my steering wheel the splits closing pretty quickly. They did a great job of trying to use the overcut, some clean air, try and jump a lot of people. It looks like maybe he didn’t have a clean last stop. If he had a clean last stop, it was definitely going to be a very tight race for the win.
“It’s huge. These races are so tough. Sato is definitely one of the fiercest competitors I think when you get into a situation like that. He takes his chances, and he makes that quite apparent.”
Sato was attempting to become the first driver since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000 to win the Indianapolis 500 and the next race on the schedule. Back then, it was the Indianapolis 500 and The Milwaukee Mile.
“Well I’m enjoying it, definitely,” Sato said. “There’s no hiding that I am full of energy, full of hunger to win more than ever, just over and over. Particularly Scott is the guy to beat today. I mean, just in general, as well. He’s just extremely competitive guy, competitive team. We were just challenging for the big moment.
“I feel really confident. I feel really, how can I say, so hungry for the win, so desperate – not desperate. So much energy in the team. The boys (are) just so excited. It’s nice to be in top contender every single weekend.
“I wish we had same thing for (the) earlier part of the season. Certainly nothing we can change in the past. In the future, which is coming (the) rest of the season, hopefully we can keep this competitiveness and hopefully we can challenge for another hard race.”
Dixon turned 40 on July 22 and scored IndyCar win No. 50 five weeks later.
It’s been a great time for the older drivers in the series, with 43-year-old Sato winning last Sunday’s Indy 500 and Dixon, who turned 40 on July 22, claiming another win for the 40-somethings one week later.
“Will Power is turning 40. A few of us lingering around that age group,” Dixon quipped. “I don’t feel any different to when I was 20. I think the hangovers get a little worse, which is one big difference. I try to stay clear of those a little more these days.
“I’m so lucky to work with the team that I do. They inspire me every day, their competitiveness. Chip, Mike, everybody involved at this team, they never lift, they never want to stop. That’s what keeps me going, keeps me driving as hard as I can.”
Dixon’s 50th win in Indy car racing came in his 329th Indy car start. The win moves Dixon within two of Mario Andretti for second on the all-time Indy car racing wins list. Foyt is the all-time Indy car win leader at 67.
It’s also win No. 228 overall for Chip Ganassi Racing and extends Dixon’s lead in the championship from 84 to 117 points over defending champion Josef Newgarden.
Additionally, it’s Dixon’s fourth victory in in eight races this year and CGR’s fifth win in eight races.
“It’s amazing,” Dixon said. “I never thought this was ever possible. I was very lucky and very fortunate to race in a lot of junior categories, made it to IndyCar. The first win came in a strange way at Nazareth, Pennsylvania, in a fuel race. That he was definitely a shock. Then obviously the milestone that we reached today is huge.
“Not for just me, it’s amazing what this team has been able to achieve with championships, Indy 500s. As always, I feel very fortunate to be able to work with this group of people. They’re the ones that make it possible.
“Today I think speed-wise it was going to be a tough race, tough to pass. What we were able to do in the pits, pull that off, was big.”
Dixon can score win No. 51 if he sweeps the doubleheader at World Wide Technology Raceway on Sunday. That race starts at 3:30 p.m. ET with the NBCSN telecast starting at 3 p.m. ET.
“Yeah, that would be pretty cool,” Dixon said. “It’s nice to get a couple more wins before the season is out. As always, man, every race we go into, we’re trying to win it.
“Fifty is a great number. I’d like to think there’s 50 more, but that might be pretty tough. We’ll keep our head down and we’d love to definitely get a lot more wins here in the next few years.
“We’re in the business of winning, so that’s what we got to do. It means a lot for me, means a lot for my family a lot for all the people that enabled me to get here, all the investors from New Zealand that made this possible many moons ago.
“This is what it’s all about.”