Scott Dixon Wins at Texas
Drivers of Chevrolet Aero Kit with Fully Integrated 2.2 Liter V6 Direct Injected Turbocharged Engine Finish 1-2-3-4 and Five of Top-Seven; Victory is Seventh of Season for Bowtie Brand
- FORT WORTH (June 6, 2015) – Scott Dixon delivered his second win of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season in commanding style in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS). Dixon put his No. 9 Energizer EcoAdvanced Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in the front of the field and held the lead for a race-high 97 laps on the way to his second win at TMS and the 37th of his career.
The three-time series champion sits third in the standings, 43 points out of the lead.
The win was the seventh of the season by drivers of the Chevrolet Aero Kit with fully integrated 2.2 liter V6 direct injected turbocharged engine.
“Congratulations to Scott Dixon and his Chip Ganassi Racing crew for a strong win tonight at Texas Motor Speedway,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Program Manager for Verizon IndyCar Series. “Scott had the right balance of set up, strategy and skill tonight in a race that ran the entire distance with only one yellow for debris. Toronto is next weekend where Scott has been quite successful. Coming off of a win like this will certainly be a positive boost for Scott and his Target team.”
Dixon’s teammate, Tony Kanaan, No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, finished second. Helio Castroneves, No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet, finished third to make it an all-Chevrolet driver podium. Castroneves and Kanaan sit fourth and ninth in points, respectively. Series points leader Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, finished fourth.
Charlie Kimball, No. 83 Levemir FlexPen Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, finished seventh. Defending series champion Will Power, No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, remains second in the standings after finishing 13th in tonight’s 248-lap/600K race on the 1.455-mile oval.
The next Verizon IndyCar Series event is the Honda Indy Toronto on June 14 on the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place The race will be telecast at 3 p.m. (ET) by NBCSN and broadcast by the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network affiliates, including Sirius 212, XM 209 and indycar.com.
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by tonight’s third-place finisher, Helio Castroneves.
Helio, talk about the race, a lot of long green-flag runs.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, it was interesting. As you might have heard, there was a lot of scenarios between the high downforce, low downforce. Well, I think I was the only one with the middle downforce. I don’t know about the Hondas, but at least the Chevy.
So it wasn’t bad. AAA car is actually running very good, especially in the beginning. The only issue for me was towards the end of the runs, I was getting a little too neutral, to be honest, for my taste.
We had good battles out there, really intense, really tough. Any day, any time, running with guys like that that respect each other, it’s fun, it’s great. That’s what I race for.
I feel more safe being an inch beside each other than actually when I was running 12 at Indianapolis towards the end with some really, really incredible movers that people have no respect for what they’re doing.
That for me was a fun race. I can go any time, race like that. Hopefully those young guys learn from it.
THE MODERATOR: We’re also joined by tonight’s second-place finisher, Tony Kanaan.
Tony, talk about the race tonight.
TONY KANAAN: It was a great race. At the beginning of the race, I’m looking at Helio’s setup downforce-wise, they’re looking at mine. We’re like, Somebody’s going to get it right.
We chose a little bit of a higher downforce at the time and I think it paid often a little bit. We had a great battle. This guy, we’ve been racing together for 25 years. It’s always fun.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: From the early age now to the old age.
TONY KANAAN: It’s still the same. We hate each other on the track and love each other off the track.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was a lot of fun.
TONY KANAAN: It’s like you say, when you racing with people you know, you know how much room. I knew exactly who I was racing with. That’s why we allowed each other to do that because we know nothing was going to happen.
Great effort for our team. Very good points for the championship. So we’ve been trying to catch the Penske boys. It was a very good result for us.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up for questions.
Q. Tony, what was it like seeing Scott win? This was his 37th career win. Do you think he’s maybe a little underappreciated in the series?
TONY KANAAN: I don’t think so. Scott is a racer. As much as he can, he will be out of the spotlight. That’s not his thing.
He is an incredible driver. He’s fifth all time on the wins. I think he still has a long career ahead of him. He’s always going to be the guy.
Does he care if people talk about him or not? Not really. He’s going to get that trophy. We’re going to fly home tonighttogether. Tomorrow morning he’s going to be playing with his kids.
Me and Helio like to be famous.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: We take over from him (laughter).
TONY KANAAN: No, I don’t think so. I think everybody knows. Honestly, if you ask any driver that races against Scott, they’re going to respect him a lot. I think that’s the biggest thing in racing, to be honest.
Eddie was pretty vocal about he wanted a better race.
TONY KANAAN: He’s always vocal. That’s his opinion. He’s not racing cars. So he’s a very good promoter and he should stick to that and let us do the race.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: He should be here right now.
TONY KANAAN: Everybody can do their job. He’s one of the best promoters I’ve seen and I think that’s what he should stick with. We race, that’s what we do.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I thought it was a good race. To be honest, it was a very tough one. Obviously I understand the type of race we ran before. But today we have three different, I don’t understand the technical terms, people might not see it, but once it’s well-explained, we have three type of people running with different downforce. That technology in the Verizon IndyCar Series, we still battle each other. It just shows the amount of competitiveness of every single team.
TONY KANAAN: I don’t think we could race any closer, me and you.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was a long time we don’t do that.
TONY KANAAN: That was incredible.
How are y’all able to run so many laps at such a high miles an hour on this racetrack and fatigue didn’t seem to be a factor? How are you able to keep that pace up the whole race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Again, as I just explained about the downforce, some cars probably was with more downforce than others. As the track changed, the temperature changed, all the cars, not only one, but all the cars becoming better. That’s why was very difficult race. You got to predict what’s going on. You got to understand. Plus traffic, the tire degradation. A lot of things happening.
Just to show the skills, to be able to keep that kind of condition going, it’s a big thumbs up. For the first time we’re having this aero kit, I thought it was very successful.
We didn’t win. Yes, it sucks.
TONY KANAAN: I think you just pace yourself, to be honest. Sometimes you see our hands get numb because of the vibration. We train a lot. This new generation, they call us veterans, but we don’t feel like that. We train a lot.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: We’re line wine: better with age.
TONY KANAAN: 40 is the new 30. Look at the ages of the top three tonight (laughter).
You prepare yourself for it. It’s like anything. You go exercise. Depending on the day you’re going to feel a little pain here or there. You don’t know what to expect. You just have to deal with it.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Tomorrow and Monday.
TONY KANAAN: Tomorrow the kids will wake us up at 6 a.m. when they want to play (laughter).
TONY KANAAN: That’s the issue here. The power steering issue, we’re trying to prevent drivers to hurt their hands when there’s a crash. In an oval like this, actually my steering was not heavy at all. I don’t think that applies to this case.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you.
TONY KANAAN: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We’re now joined by tonight’s race winner, Scott Dixon.
Talk about the race tonight and just how it all unfolded.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it didn’t start awfully good. We had a lot of understeer in the car.
I think to start with, a huge credit to the engineering group at Team Target for the option we went with, which was kind of the high downforce level. Thanks to Chevrolet for so many options, good options, and the power we had out there, too.
Once we got the balance right, we got some front wing in the car, some tire pressure changes, the car was basically on rails.
To get that kind of I think stint two or three, reset with the yellow, definitely helped us. Tried to break away with T.K. there and push him along. Then with that pit stop exchange, we got the lead.
The car was just fantastic in traffic. That was the key. We knew last year the key to not doing very well in the race was struggling with traffic. Tonight the car was just very good in traffic, able to pass. Were able to go where we needed to. Were also able to extend the windows we needed to mid race there and keep the speed up.
One of those nights where you get towards the end, you’re just hoping there was going to be no yellow, especially with all the strategies going on out there.
All in all a big night. Obviously very cool to get the Energizer car back in Victory Lane.
THE MODERATOR: Mike Hull, talk about how difficult it was for you with all those long green-flag runs.
MIKE HULL: First of all, I have to say we love racing in Texas. Eddie didn’t pay me to say that. We like to do that.
As Scott said, the first go there, the first run, we were terrible. There was a difference in downforce between some of the cars on the racetrack. To put it in terms that you’ll understand, we thought three of the four Penske cars had about 10% less downforce than we did on the grid. The one that raced with us all night was probably halfway between our downforce level and the other three cars.
But our balance wasn’t good. So we changed the balance on the first stop and continued to tweak that balance. What I personally learned from Scott, I don’t know if it was a couple of years ago, we didn’t make it to the end of the race, we were one of the yellows. When Scott Dixon tells you the car is loose, you believe him.
He started to say that towards the end of that second to final run. So we came a little early there for that reason. But Scott did a heck of a job with those long runs.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up for questions.
Q. The last few years, you’ve had quite the late-season run. Seven races to go. Is this kind of the start to your charge?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, you know, we would obviously like to start the season stronger. I would say right now this is one of our better ones, even though we had a pretty awful start with the first two races.
This team has got a lot of resources. You know you’re going to have a shot at winning each weekend you go to.
But the competition, the Verizon IndyCar Series, is through the roof. Especially now with four Penskes and four legitimate drivers that they’ve got in their stable, it’s pretty tough.
Right now it’s a good start for us, kind of mid-season-ish. But still a long ways to go. A lot of competition out there.
We’re not going to obviously dwell on this too much. We have next weekend, and obviously we want to do well there. What we’ll try to do is carry some momentum from this race on to the next.
There was a lot of questions about the wheel covers. Do you think tonight’s showing validates that addition, that they should become a permanent part of the package?
MIKE HULL: Scott drives the car, he could tell you how it feels on the racetrack.
We’re really excited about what Chevrolet does for us. We’re really excited about the fact that IndyCar and Chevrolet work well together. That also includes Honda.
They’re the ones that came up with it. They didn’t just throw a dart at the wall to come up with that. They did a lot of conclusive study before they made that decision.
We’re more than happy to race the way they want us to race for the rest of the year. I don’t think it affected the racing as you saw tonight in any way whatsoever. It was a positive gain really because we really didn’t have anything against the fence tonight. If you look at it that way, I think it was a great success.
SCOTT DIXON: It’s hard to kind of say what the difference felt like because this was the first time I really ran here with the new Chevrolet aero kit. I know the numbers and what it does from kind of what they give us to look at.
As far as drivability or what it does for the car, it’s not something that we notice. Obviously, big credit to the Verizon IndyCar Series and Chevrolet and Honda, the manufacturers, to come up with these ideas. I understand it definitely helps in a rear-ward projectory. Any of those things are going to help. There obviously will be more additions down the road as we understand the car a little bit more.
Scott, did I understand correctly that you didn’t want this downforce setup, or at least you had some debate about it? Talk about how much debate there was relative to other events, given the options that you had.
SCOTT DIXON: Well, the debate started last night after the warmup. I thought I had my way. Then at about 1:00 this afternoon I got a text message from Chris Simmons saying we were going the other way, to where I went and saw him and tried to push to go back.
30 minutes before the race, I was still moaning pretty good. Obviously, you know, it’s hard when you see the first four cars with a lot less downforce in a situation where we thought we were in the warmup was going to be okay. You put yourself in a situation to race hard at the end of the night with some good speed and we actually put a lot more on.
The debate went back and forth. We were thinking about splitting the cars as far as levels and things like that. But in hindsight, I’m glad they understood what they were doing. That’s why they do what they do. I just drive the car.
The early stages of the race when T.K. was leading, you were behind, were you kind of just waiting back there to conserve fuel a little bit before you started to show your hand?
SCOTT DIXON: There was no saving fuel. I was trying as hard as I could. Just when I’d get to the corner, I’d keep going straight. I just couldn’t get the car turned. I was maxed out on all our adjustments inside the cockpit.
I knew obviously with the speed and how Tony had moved up there that the car was good because we weren’t too different, you know, especially on the levels of downforce. The mechanical side was a little bit different, but fairly close. I knew once we got the balance right, we could be up there with him, probably duel it out with him towards the end.
At the start of the race I think we got a little bit too far back in the pack. With the understeer we already had, it just built more. By the middle run, we just had no front tires left on the car.
That’s where I think the team did a really good job through the night. They were asking what the car was doing and making changes every stop. They overstepped the markers. He got to the point where the car was really loose.
Between the time we spent making the changes and the pit stops that Team Target had tonight, it worked phenomenal.
Scott, was the tire falloff tonight as much as you expected?
SCOTT DIXON: The tire falloff is manageable. Definitely with Chevrolet, with the kit, it’s highly adjustable. I think that’s what I was alluding to before, there’s almost too many choices that you can mess it up, not badly, but obviously you want to win these races.
I think you could see the dominance from Chevrolet in general. But yeah, you know, the degradation was definitely in the last three or four years is how you won these races. In the past we haven’t done a good job of it.
I think the racing tonight, I’m going to be biased from my standpoint, it was fantastic. Running side-by-side, it was close, the traffic was manageable. If you had a faster car, you could break away. The races here I think are very good.
Scott, you said you were kind of going back and forth on the package. At what point in the race did you say, I kind of like this?
SCOTT DIXON: You never really do because it’s hard to tell. Especially with these day-night races, you go through the transition. Typically track temp plays a part. When you’re losing 20 or 30 degrees in track temp, you’re losing a lot of grip.
Mid to latter part of the race, we were running a lot of flat-out laps. That was a transition where I thought there might be a crossover with some of the other guys that were trimmed out.
We were able to manage the tires in the last 10 laps of a stint where it really counted, and we didn’t have much falloff, and that’s really what made the difference.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Congratulations.
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