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VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES: TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH


April 19, 2015


Scott Dixon


LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll continue with our Verizon IndyCar Series post‑race press conference.テつ We are joined by our race winner Scott Dixon, driving the No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing.テつ This is Scott's 36th career win, fifth in the all‑time win list which breaks a tie with Bobby Unser, also his first win at Long Beach in nine starts.テつ I know this race was particularly important to you, had some bad luck in the past, but how great does it feel to finally get on top in Long Beach?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Yeah, it feels amazing.テつ It's been a tough track as you mentioned, and one that, yes, we've had some bad luck, but we've also had the chance to get the job done properly.テつ This team, Team Target, has had great results here in the early years, and not too long ago obviously with Dario, as well.テつ It was nice to start the weekend strong, qualify strong in the car, and those conditions have been very good.テつ Today, good start.テつ Juan sort of crowded me a bit on the left, which sort of gave me an opening to go around the outside of him into Turn 1, which was definitely the key there, and the first pit stop exchange with TK and Helio, obviously opened up the position for me to try and pass Helio in the pits.テつ Probably need to buy TK a beer.テつ Obviously he didn't do it on purpose, but that's the way it happens, and it definitely helped out the scenario with our race.
I think the 3 and our car were very close as far as speed‑wise.テつ The gaps were kind of open and closed just depending on kind of what fuel mileage you were chasing and different scenarios and trying to breathe a bit to try and get some clean air.テつ But yeah, it feels spectacular to win.テつ It was a big weekend for Target with a lot of vendors and partners here, a couple hundred probably, so yeah, it was a good deal to obviously be in the winner's circle and the first time for me after nine starts.テつ I finally got it right, I guess.
THE MODERATOR:テつ As you mentioned, another win for Target.テつ This is the 110th win for the Target race program across many series.テつ You've also had some luck in different series in 2015 so far and it feels like every time you come in here you're talking about breaking records and ties with some fairly notable racers.テつ Does that hold significance for you?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Yeah, it feels amazing to even be on a list with a lot of those names.テつ It's a real privilege.テつ But for me, I think stats are something that I've said it before, that you look back on I think when you're done with your career, and hopefully you're happy with them.テつ But right now we're fifth.テつ I think we'd definitely like to build on it, and the only way we're going to do that is to win races.テつ I'm very lucky to be with a team like Team Target.テつ All but one win has been with this team, so a huge amount of credit goes to them as a team for enabling me to take it to the winner's circle a lot of the time.テつ Yeah, just thankful for the position I'm in.

Q.テつ Scott, any flashback to last year when you were leading the race but you didn't have enough fuel to hold on to it?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Last year was a longshot.テつ We were having a pretty bad day and tried to lock into a situation that was a little bit better.テつ So I did actually have a fuel light come on with two laps to go, but it must have been a glitch in the system.テつ I quickly went to yellow map again and tried to slow down and the team came on the radio promptly and said don't worry about that.テつ We saw it.テつ There's no issue with fuel here.テつ You're good to go to the end.テつ Same as Mid‑Ohio last year, once we got the lead and knew we could maintain the gap, I didn't burn fuel, I just kept saving fuel because you're going to look like a complete idiot if you run out with a lap to go.テつ Yeah, there was not a huge amount of stress on fuel.テつ The Chevy engine was getting great fuel mileage today.

Q.テつ The other guys were asked the same question.テつ What about the racing today?テつ We came off of some high‑contact events to be polite, and this one was clean.テつ Was that intentional?テつ Was it brought up in the drivers' meeting?テつ Do you think everything just lent itself to a much cleaner race today?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Yeah, it's amazing what happens when guys maybe up their game or pay attention.テつ Obviously the conditions were pretty difficult at NOLA.テつ St.Pete was first race of the year, people were trying to make big moves, and I think in the past we've had some really robust cars, cars‑‑ single seaters shouldn't hit each other, but the way the DW12 was initially built, you could actually get into people and break it.テつ So I think Honda and Chevy have done a good job with trying to make the aero kids a little stronger, but in hindsight we shouldn't be hitting each other.テつ I haven't seen the race so I can't really comment on it.テつ I heard there was some good racing action going on, a little bit back there, and yeah, I have to wait to see the race, but to have one caution at Long Beach, you know, is pretty good.

Q.テつ It's early days obviously as far as the championship, but at this stage of the game, Penske are obviously looking very strong.テつ They have been in the first few races.テつ You're looking strong.テつ It's looking like you're certainly going to be able to battle with them.テつ With this year's new package, what do you reckon your strengths are?テつ What are your strengths with your team, as well, and do you have any kind of speculation looking ahead to Indy in particular and the ovals?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Yeah, you know, I'd say our weakness is probably street courses right now, so today was exceptionally good for us.テつ You know, we did a lot of testing, I think, out of the days that we had at the start of the year.テつ Six of them were‑‑ five or six of them were at New Orleans, and that didn't work out for us.テつ The car was really fast when it was a dry track with dry practice, when you really got to run properly in the wet at any point in New Orleans until it got rained out.テつ So I'd say right now we did almost zero testing on the street‑course car.テつ I don't think we actually did a test this year with the street‑course tire.テつ The majority was at Barber and NOLA.テつ So I think the road courses are kind of our strong suit right now.テつ We have to see how that plays out obviously with Barber and Indy coming up.
The oval stuff is a bit of an unknown.テつ The short‑oval mile stuff, the packages aren't even set in stone yet for what IndyCar is going to allow us to run, and then Indy has been‑‑ nobody has really shown what we have yet.テつ I haven't even seen a finished speedway kit.テつ The first test I think in two weeks' time, on that Sunday, on the 3rd I think it is, is going to be the first time we get a gist of that.テつ For us Indy is the marquee event and the one that we want to all go and win, especially this one is early in the season.テつ Fingers crossed, Chevy has done a hell of a job with the aero kit so far, but fingers crossed that we can be dominant at Indy.

Q.テつ You saw TK right in victory lane?テつ What did you say, if anything, and did you touch base on his pit stop at the first stop?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Yeah, I spoke to TK, he said I need to buy him a beer, even though he doesn't drink.テつ I'll drink it for him.テつ (Laughter.)
You know, it was the same scenario actually at St.Pete with me and Juan, and it happened two times in a row actually where he was going to leave and I was just coming in.テつ It's unfortunate with how the races play out sometimes that when you're leaving you're going to have the competitor in the next pit stop trying to come in, and there's nothing you can do.テつ If you go you're going to crash into him and break the car or you just wait and maybe lose a position, and that's what happened.テつ Obviously a bit of luck for us today to get to that position.テつ Who knows how it would have played out.テつ Would we have had enough speed?テつ We were able to maintain the gap on used red tires with eight, 10 laps on them to the new ones at the start, so I think we would have been really competitive at the end anyway.テつ Yeah, but that was definitely a game changer for us in the race.

Q.テつ As consistently good as you guys have been over the career, is it kind of‑‑ are you kind of surprised that you finally came through here?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Yeah, here and St.Pete have been tough ones.テつ You know, I don't know, you kind of gel with tracks, and I've never really been in a position to where‑‑ I think our best finish here previously was maybe a fourth, and I don't which race that was ‑‑ we've had strong races here but we've kind of been just to the top three, never get to the lead and look at it that way.テつ I think it's a big breakthrough for myself.テつ I'm going to enjoy coming here.テつ I love Long Beach, but as a track and one that you want to come and do well at, it hasn't been on the top of my list, but now it's obviously changed, and I think we found some things that have enabled me to adapt to the circuit.テつ It's just a shame it's taken nine years.

Q.テつ You mentioned that you're on the more‑used tires at the beginning of the race compared to Helio's, but had he have gotten out of the pits after that stop in front of you, do you have you would have had something for him?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ You're always going to say yeah, of course, and he's going to say no, I wouldn't.テつ It was one of those situations.テつ I think our car was exceptionally good on blacks.テつ We really didn't have to push, we just maintained the gap and got fuel mileage.テつ That's all we did towards the end, and I know Helio was pushing very hard.テつ He was burning a lot of fuel.テつ He was using all of his overtakes to try and get to us.
I was confident that our car was fast, but had it been that situation, I'm not sure we would have had enough to go by him.

Q.テつ Prior to today you've won basically every big thing you can in IndyCar racing except the Long Beach Grand Prix, so just how huge is that to you to kind of round out your accomplishments?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Yeah, you know, it obviously ranks very high.テつ The history and the different kind of races, different formulas here with Formula1 and IndyCar and CART, and I didn't even know they did like the face thing here in victory lane here.テつ It's the first time for me to be there today, actually standing on the podium, so it was very cool to see those.
Yeah, it's always been a race I've wanted to win, but I think that's similar to a lot of the ones you go to.テつ This one is definitely a standout just because of the history and the prominence.テつ But Long Beach is still one of our great races.テつ Today, even yesterday in qualifying, the grandstands were packed.テつ It's hard to get from the media center to the trucks.テつ There's so many people.テつ That's what IndyCar racing needs.テつ For me this weekend I kept saying to people, man, I can't believe how many people are here.テつ It was just a fantastic weekend.テつ Hopefully we can build on other races to a similar level to what everybody has done here with the Grand Prix.

Q.テつ And also you've now surpassed Bobby Unser in career victories, so the next time you see him are you going to be able to give him driver advice?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ No, I would never do that.テつ No, you know, it's‑‑ yeah, it's different eras, different racing.テつ You know, those guys I've always looked up to and enjoyed watching replays of their races, whether it's him or AJ or Mario or Michael.テつ We'll keep trying to do our job and see if we can build on this, but that list is not our focus right now.

Q.テつ Scott, with 35 wins over the course of the last 15 years, at the end of the day you're still only 35 years old.テつ That being said, you've got a lot more wins at this point in your career than a lot of people that have ever won in IndyCar.テつ That being said, do you think that the best is yet to come of you as time goes on?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ I hope so.テつ Dario's return I think was pretty stout when he came back at the age of 35.テつ I think I turned 35 in July, and when he turned 35 I have no idea.テつ I think I'm 34 right now.
You hope that that's going to be the case.テつ I hope that I can still be with this team, hopefully it's a career team, and I think with that combination, we could win a lot of races.テつ Obviously we want to win championships and Indianapolis 500s.テつ Dario has a few more Indy 500s than we do right now, but it's‑‑ I think, as I keep saying, it's something I look back on, but I hope maybe we can hit a different stride here and definitely knock some out.テつ It would be a lot of fun.

Q.テつ In regards to the aero kit, does the car feel different than it did from last year?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Definitely feels faster.テつ The braking zones are getting much smaller.テつ I think typically into 1 you brake at the 400, in qualifying you're going to be on the 300.テつ The braking zones are definitely shrinking.テつ You're carrying a lot more speed through the corners.テつ I think the biggest thing for the drivers and at least for me with the DW12 and the past configuration, it was very hard to tune, if you like a really positive front end, you always maxed out a front wing, but with the Chevy body kit, it has a lot more adjustability.テつ It's a lot easier to get the setup to your liking.
Yeah, it's not what it could have been.テつ I think IndyCar with the changes took over 700 pounds of downforce out of it with the underwing and things like that.テつ It could have been a lot faster than what it currently is.テつ But they did a great job on the safety aspect and trying to maintain things mechanically as a series.

Q.テつ So you did win here before in 2000 in Indy Lights.
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Oh, yeah, yeah.テつ Doesn't count.テつ Nobody ever got excited about a win‑‑ yeah, I'm like, I won Indy Lights here.

Q.テつ Talk about over that span of time, of course you have to be with a great team to be consistently in the winner's circle, but talk about from your standpoint your mental, physical, all the preparation that goes into having you be so successful over all this time.
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Yeah, you know, I think as I keep saying, the team is a big credit to that.テつ I've been able to work with so many great people, whether it's been teammates.テつ There's been a lot of teammates throughout the years.テつ And every‑‑ I think the biggest thing, and it's the same throughout the team, is that every day you're learning, and that's the exciting part for me.テつ Even with Saavedra this weekend, it's another guy, and he does something different, and it's kind of cool to see, because you talk to a lot of drivers and you see them quick at some point throughout the weekend or quick at different tracks and you kind of wonder what they're up to, but to me that side of it is very interesting, but yeah, a lot of credit goes to the team for the consistency that we've had, and for me I think at a place like this, Dario was a big help this weekend.テつ It was a track that he's always been very strong at.テつ He was able to give me a few little tips and tricks here and there in troublesome areas, but also with Charlie and some corners in like Turn 6 and TK in Turn 1 and Saavedra was exceptionally fast in 5, so all that data sitting there, so it's kind of fun to go through and work out how they're doing it and get the most out of it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports



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