DIXON MAKING UP GROUND
By Dave Lewandowski, INDYCAR.com
Scott Dixon advanced 20 positions to finish third in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer. Now all the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver has to do is make up about 50 points – equivalent to a race victory -- to be in the mix for his third IZOD IndyCar Series championship.
He has nine races remaining, including three consecutive street/road courses on deck in the next five weeks. The result June 25 – his fifth top 10 in a row, and highest, at the .875-mile oval – moved Dixon into third in the standings. He’s 73 points behind teammate Dario Franchitti and trails Team Penske’s Will Power by 53.
There’s not a magic bullet to closing the gap; just continue to pile up podium finishes. Having your chief competitors struggle helps, too.
“It’s a tough championship; if you get into a bit of a rut and even get mixed up in the wrong programs, you can lose a lot of points quickly,” he said. “If you have a good weekend it’s 53 points as opposed to somebody maybe making 12, so you can close the gap pretty quickly.”
Dixon referenced 2008, during which he had a 65-point lead in the championship over Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves following his victory at Edmonton. He increased the advantage to 78 points two weeks later with a victory at Kentucky Speedway. But 12th place at Infineon Raceway and fifth at Belle Isle, while Castroneves recorded first- and second-place finishes, cut the margin to 30 points heading into the season finale.
Castroneves charged from 28th place to win at Chicagoland Speedway by 0.0033 of a second over Dixon, who secured the title by 17 points over the 17 races.
“When you have your bad weekends, if you can sort of extract the best points or the best finishing position, that’s what you need to do,” said Dixon, who’s recovered from non-top-10 finishes in three of the first four races with five consecutive top 10s. “I think that’s what Dario has been very strong at throughout the last few years; where they maybe haven't had the best car, they’ve still come up with a hell of a good finish at the end.”