They say when you win, act like you’ve been there before. Scott Dixon has been there before, and spoke of his fourth Verizon IndyCar Series championship with the same humility and class that have defined the Chip Ganassi Racing veteran’s career.
“None of this happens with one person,” Dixon told reporters including IndyCar Examiner after winning the title and Sunday’s season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, “and from Chip leading this team to Mike leading the Indianapolis part and every crew member and teammates, my teammates this year have been phenomenal. They’ve been fantastic, very good to work with, and sharing – we share everything, to obviously push the program forward.
“This is definitely one of if not the most sweetest championships we’ve had,” he continued. “To come in and finish it the way we did, I can’t thank enough people between Team Target, all the Target people who were here this weekend, 400 or 500, all in Turn 7…and obviously Chevrolet for their part, and obviously the performance and the aero kits and the drivability and the fuel mileage today for us was phenomenal.”
‘Phenomenal’ is a word that could describe Dixon, particularly in 2015. While he may have taken the championship by surprise, that was the payoff for a memorable year that included leading Ganassi to victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance race, earning his first-ever race win at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and two Verizon P1 Awards.
He simply was consistent, right up until the very end – literally, as he spent the last few laps knowing Juan Pablo Montoya was bearing down on the field and that Montoya would win if he could get around Ryan Briscoe for fifth place. Briscoe, whose tires were fading, was able to hold Montoya off long enough to cross the finish line.
“The team wasn’t really saying much, so I knew it was pretty tight,” Dixon reflected, “and all we focused on was winning the race. That was really all we could do. There was nothing outside of that. We needed to try and obviously lead a lap, lead the most laps, and go on and win the race, and that was our focus.
“But I knew as we were coming to the wire, you kind of look and look at the pylon and unfortunately the pylon here…it only has the top five, so it was hard to know exactly where Juan was. I knew he was going to be strong at the end of the race. He’s always a hard charger and one that is definitely going to intimidate some people that are in front of him.
“It wasn’t going to be over until after the last lap, and even after we finished as a team, I was like we won the race, that’s fantastic, what about the championship,” he continued, “and it wasn’t until maybe the carousel where they came back and said we won the championship. It felt so surreal, the things that needed to happen.”
As focused as he was in the car, Dixon was naturally good-natured out of it – even engaging in some spontaneous crowdsurfing after the Astor Cup presentation alongside team owner Chip Ganassi. He spent most of his time on the dais talking about anyone but himself, including a nod to former teammate turned colleague Dario Franchitti, and one more salute to the late Justin Wilson.
“As Justin would have wanted, he would have wanted us to go out and race, and today I gave it my all from when the green flag dropped, was giving it the most I could, and had some good, clean racing out there to enable us to move up quickly at the start was definitely key,” he stated, “but heavy hearts, but much love to the Wilson family.”
While the buzz in Sonoma on Sunday was about his success and his unbelievable run to the top once again, his attention was on everyone who made it possible.
“We win [championships] as a team, and just I feel very blessed to obviously do what I do,” reflected Dixon, who will return to Ganassi in 2016 to defend his newest title. “I love IndyCar racing. I think the Verizon IndyCar Series is one of the best series in the world. We put on amazing races, and the talent that we have here, the depth is fantastic. I feel blessed and love waking up to myself being an IndyCar racer as a champion, and hope for many more years.”
For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.