IndyCar Series: Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola & Edy's
Topics: Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola & Edy's
August 9, 2008
THE MODERATOR: 12 Top-5s, heck of a year and headed to Sonoma where this guy has a career victory. Congratulations to both of you.
Sometimes you're in the zone and you have the world by the tail, and this it guy certainly does at the moment. I think you're well aware that with his sixth victory he ties his teammate Dan Wheldon for a season number of victories with six, 16th in his career. He extends his point lead by 78 points. It's just been a remarkable ride for Scott Dixon, and Scott, I would imagine that there's times that you have to pinch yourself and just say, my gosh, what a year this is.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I think it's definitely circumstances of when, it's your year, things just seem to go your way. Definitely races like Nashville and here tonight, we maybe didn't have the best strategy, and guys like Penske and Helio pulled up a pretty big one there and had us definitely surprised.
We thought we knew what they were up to, but obviously not as much as -- or not as quick as they were going to be and as close as it was for the last lap.
It was a tough night. Definitely had a lot of fun racing with Marco. He was helping me out a lot there, and I kind of got pressed down on the bottom with a lot of traffic throughout the night which moved us back a few spots occasionally.
To be honest, it was good to try to save some fuel. All in all, pretty uneventful night apart from the strategy right at the end. And I'm sure the fans were definitely standing on their tippy-toes watching that one, so a good way to finish it off.
THE MODERATOR: For the record, there was racing all over tonight in the Meijer 300 tonight. It was spectacular.
Q. The stakes might not have been as high as last year at Chicagoland, but was it as reminiscent as could you get with a role reversal?
SCOTT DIXON: It definitely was, and I spoke with Dario in one of the areas on the phone and I said, "That view is pretty sweet," coming through turn three and turn four; and seeing Helio run out of gas and blowing by him with a few hundred feet to go was pretty special. I must say, it's definitely nice to be in that position.
Q. When Marco got past you the first time, was that just you having to check up with traffic and lose momentum? You dropped back like three places.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I don't know, unfortunately, it was one of the Conquest cars, he was on the bottom, and going into one, my spotter was like: "Outside, he's on your corner, you can probably move up: But he had been helping me all night. I didn't want to screw him. I didn't want to run him wide and maybe have the two of us touch. So it was an easy situation to maybe got out of the gas a little bit. Unfortunately I think the Conquest car was coming in the pits, as well, so he slowed down a lot. I think I had to go down the fourth gear where I had been running in six, so it was a bit of a mess for a few seconds and we were safe and through there and no problems and we continued on.
I think we needed speed to catch the leaders if we needed to anyway, and it worked out fine.
Q. Were you able to run high, you ran most of the race down on the white line, and I was listening on the IMS radio and Davey thought that perhaps Marco could not run down, and now he said he could have run anywhere. Could you run anywhere and just decide to stay low and make him pass you on the high side?
SCOTT DIXON: I think for us and the situation we were running, maybe a shorter gear was saving some fuel. I think at that point, the shorter line was definitely the best way. And you might not have the momentum that the guys on the top side do, but I definitely passed -- especially earlier on, a lot of traffic on the high side, flat-out it was no problem. We had a great car that was very consistent and had a lot of grip. The track did a good job of making sure when they smoothed the track out, they did on all three lanes and the grip was pretty efficient throughout.
I think just being up front when you have somebody pushing you, they want to use the sort of, up-half-a-line, so they can keep pushing you along, and it's just courteous I guess to stay on the bottom and let them push you.
Q. Maybe about the middle of the race and after Marco passed you, even at some point Vitor was ahead of you, and I'm not sure if Dan got ahead of you, seemed like you fell back a little bit; I don't know if you lost the draft, but was that intentional or were you just saving fuel at that point?
SCOTT DIXON: I think that might have been the same circumstance with Conquest car. You know, it didn't really bother me at the time. The team, the spotter definitely was jumping on the radio like, "Keep going, keep going," and we're flying; sit back here and try to save a bit more fuel. And I think this that situation, throughout the night we ended up going a lap or two longer than most people when we were going a full stint.
I never had too many moments -- one or two early on in the race, and I just tried to stay between half the lanes, and I caught, I don't know, a bit of a line or something and got a bit sideways, but throughout the night, the car was fine in any three of the lanes.
Q. Six wins now, three races to go, do you feel like the championship is closer to your possession?
SCOTT DIXON: I definitely think it's closer. You know, obviously with a 78-point lead now, I think it's pretty healthy, but as you can see tonight anything can happen. Helio could quite easily have gained on us and made it more of a fight.
So definitely with Sonoma and Chicago and Belle Isle, tracks that those guys are very good at, as well, and so we are going to make sure we don't lose too many points. But it would be nice to gain a couple on Helio in Sonoma and maybe we only need 82 points or something to have it sewn up by the end. That would be nice, but all reality, I think we'll be racing almost till the last race.
Q. We've pretty much seen every title contender and leader in the past couple of years have a little bit of a slump or a little bit of a stretch of the season where they are not running very well. We saw it happen with Dario last year with Michigan and here, and you haven't really had that this season. How surprising is that to you that even your worst finishes aren't bad at all?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, you know, we've had some pretty low moments this year, definitely, like at Watkins Glen, that was a reality check and probably a good kick up the bum. Yeah, definitely, those you try and work off, and as consistency goes, yeah, you're right, and I think you look at even the guys that are in the championship, too, look at Helio, this is probably his seventh second place or sixth second place this year.
So consistency, and definitely wins is what it takes to win the championship. We have won six races, and, you know, they're still only 78 points behind us, and with three races to go, it just shows you what you need to do to win these championships at the moment; whereas when I won in '03, I won three races and had six DNS. It's a strange thing.
But it's been a strong year, I think for myself and for the team, but it's what we knew we had to do to win.
Q. Was there any talk between you and your crew about Helio's fuel situation and how close he might be?
SCOTT DIXON: They didn't mention Helio, or they didn't single Helio out. They said, you know, under yellow, wow, there's like three guys that are trying that strategy, and we all knew what it was. It was going to be similar circumstances so what happened in Japan, people running lower to try to get to the end.
I think we kind of knew what he was doing, and when I tried to pass him, obviously he didn't want me to go by and ran me wide on one and two; and next time he tried to run me off the grass going down the back stretch. They were fighting me pretty hard, and I would be doing the same thing if I were in those situations going for a win.
I didn't think coming out of the grass that we had enough to win it, and definitely took him having a problem there in four with the fuel to finally pass him.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned the battle with Helio pushing you down on the grass and very close wheel-to-wheel action with Marco; Vitor was right there. If we would have been in the last stages of the lap and those two guys were all over you, would there have been any discussion in your mind or your team's, let them go, finish third, the championship is the big prize?
SCOTT DIXON: No, you know, I respect those guys, and to be honest when you're on the bottom, it's a pretty easy scenario. You can't really go anywhere and all they can do is go around you. I think it depends. Those guys have had not a bad year, but definitely want to go for the race wins, and definitely especially with Vitor, and he's never had very many second places and a victory. They are pushing pretty hard and it's good to see the results, and it's pretty amazing seeing Panther, when they are beating teams like AGR and Penske. In those situations, you never really know until you get to it. You'll maybe think about it with a lap or two to go, but it's hard to tell.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on a great race and a great year.
SCOTT DIXON: Thank you very much.
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