VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES
GOPRO GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER POST RACE RELEASE
AUGUST 24, 2014
Scott Dixon Scored Second Win of 2014 Season; Gives Chevrolet IndyCar V6 Engine 11th Trip to Victory Lane
SONOMA, Calif (August 24, 2014): Defending and three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon scored his second win of the 2014 season in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Dixon took the lead on lap 83 of the 85-lap/202.73-mile race and went on to score the 35th victory of his career and second at Sonoma Raceway, the last trip to Victory Lane was in 2007.
“Congratulations to Scott Dixon and his Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team for their second win of the season and executed in grand style with Chevrolet power,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, Verizon IndyCar Series. “The Sonoma circuit demands respect if it is to be mastered, and Scott showed he has the chops to get it done. With one race left to go under the lights this coming Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, it sure looks like another great IndyCar season will come down to the wire. Team Chevy is ready for the challenge.”
The win placed Dixon fifth in all-time Series victories, and he is tied with Bobby Unser. In addition, he moved to fifth in the Driver’s Championship standings, still mathematically in the title hunt with one race remaining in the season. In addition, he moved to fifth in the Driver’s Championship standings, still mathematically in the title hunt with one race remaining in the season.
The victory is the 11th of the season for the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 engine with seven different drivers taking a trip to Victory Lane. Chevrolet clinched the Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer Championship following Power’s win at Milwaukee, race 16 on the 18-race schedule.
Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, finished fifth to give Team Chevy two of the top-10 finishers.
Points leader Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, started on the pole and led twice for a total of 33 laps, but a spin at approximately the half-way point of the race dropped him back to 19th in the running order. Power fought his way back to the top-10, and leaves Sonoma with a 51-point lead over fellow Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves.
On lap one, Castroneves, who started sixth, was involved in a multi-car accident in turn two. The No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet team was able to make repairs on pit lane. Castroneves returned to competition at the back of the field. Contact again on lap 35 relegated him once again to pit lane for repairs. He was scored with the 18th finishing position and remains second in the standings heading to the 2-mile oval in Fontana, California.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (Honda) and Simon Pagenaud (Honda) completed the Sonoma podium.
Five drivers go into the final race in contention for the coveted championship. Power, Castroneves, Pagenaud (third in the standings), Hunter-Reay (fourth in points) and Dixon.
The final race of the 2014 season will be the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, August 30, 2014. Live TV coverage will begin at 6:00 p.m. PT, 9:00 p.m. ET. Radio Network will broadcast live on XM 209/Sirius 213 and on IndyCar.com with living timing and scoring.
AN INTERVIEW WITH SCOTT DIXON
We’ll continue with our Verizon IndyCar Series press conference. We’re joined by our race winner, Scott Dixon.
Scott, take us through the end of this race and what your thoughts are when you know there’s cars ahead of you that could potentially not make it until the end, you might be seeing yourself on top of the podium again.
SCOTT DIXON: It was really tough. There were so many strategies, broad ones, ones that were very close, a couple laps here or there.
First of all, the 10 car I thought was going to be able to make it on distance, and the 15 as well. To see them pit, and obviously the race was between myself, Hunter-Reay and the 20 car with Conway.
I tried to do a good job. I think the team did a fantastic job strategy-wise. The crew guys in the pits, to jump Power, Penske are good in the pit stops, to get that definitely helped the race and the way it played out.
To save our new red tires towards the end, I looked after them as much as possible. By the time we caught Conway, I was sort of waiting to find a spot. He was very good through turn six, the carrousel, which was going to make it very difficult into seven. Just basically started following him trying to figure out where he was leaving himself vulnerable.
Turn one, it’s a bit tough to pass there. You can block easy. I think I caught him by surprise there. Just the momentum we had out of the last corner.
All in all, it’s fantastic. It’s a huge weekend for us. It’s our biggest partner weekend with Team Target, all the vendors from Target. To have four or five hundred of them at the end was pretty terrific.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. This victory ties you with Bobby Unser. Any thoughts on reaching that particular milestone?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, as I’ve said before, I think stats are something you look back on when you are maybe leaving the car. As I’ve said, hopefully you’re happy with them.
To me it’s very eye-opening, pretty crazy to think that we’re on the short list last year with Unser, Andretti and Foyt ahead of us. But a lot of credit goes to the team I’ve been with. I’ve been with Ganassi for 13 years. To get all those victories, all but one of them have been with that team. With the longevity that I’ve had, it’s going to amount to hopefully something.
Obviously respect those drivers from the past. It’s something that I think I’ll reflect on probably when I’ve retired.
Q. I was in Mike Conway’s pit towards the end of the race. He was very much aware of you behind him in the rearview. How hard is he to pass? Did you have any sense about his fuel situation?
SCOTT DIXON: It’s hard to tell. I know as a team, it’s one of our tools that we have in our back pocket that’s helped us win a lot of races in the past, so it’s something we’re strong at. Whenever it comes down to a strategy like that, we’re normally one of the better ones out there. I think that helped the opportunity today.
I think Conway went on to used reds at the end, and we had a new set. Ultimately it’s better off by six laps. Just general grip is much better when you have that scenario.
It’s hard to tell. Like I said, I kept asking, The team can’t make it, because he didn’t put that much earlier than us. They said that he’s going to be five, six laps short. He was pressuring the 20 car, trying to pass him. I think he burned his tires up, used the fuel.
With sort of about five or six to go, I could really tell he was having to save a lot, lifting big into one and two there, and obviously into four he was doing it a lot. I think he was trying to maximize all his speed from six to seven because it’s probably one of the easier corners to pass.
You hope you have enough. You hope you can catch him off guard. But Mike, he’s a very talented driver, a great friend. He’s had some great victories this year.
It was nice for us to get one on top of him there.
Q. Obvious question, but looking back, 4th of July, did you think you would be in this spot, finishing this strong? What did this foretell for 2015? Is the new aero kit going to throw everything up in the air again?
SCOTT DIXON: We have two or three races before with the old body kit. This year we started very much on the back foot. We had a lot of changes with engine manufacturer, teammates, three-car back to a four-car team, the ALMS team shifting engine manufacturers. We had to run the 24 Hour with two cars, the 12 Hour with two cars. Took a lot of resources from the IndyCar. A lot of development programs probably haven’t been as seamless as they have been in the past.
Fortunately we know our team finishes strong, but if we could actually start the season somewhat on the map we’d be doing a lot better.
For me personally, it’s probably been one of the worst years I’ve ever had. ’04 and ’05 were stand-out years, but we had a deficiency we couldn’t compete as well as we needed to. Now we have the right pieces, but we just haven’t done a good job with them at the start of the year.
Q. I’m told you’re still in the mathematical position at fifth. You probably haven’t had a chance to run over what it’s going to take you to win this points total?
SCOTT DIXON: I think I’m still looking for the meteorite to take out the 12 car. I don’t even know what the points are yet. I know third place is a real position that we can get to with 100 points on the table, if we can do well. I think what really hurt us this year is myself crashing at Indy. That took a lot of points out when you have these double-point weekends.
Yeah, from what I imagine, it’s a huge longshot. Right now I think our objective is to get to third place in the championship.
Q. Where were you in the earthquake? What were your thoughts about that?
SCOTT DIXON: I think I slept through most of it. We were in Sonoma, at the lodge there in Sonoma. I think I caught the last maybe five or ten seconds of it. I heard a few screams, people talking outside. Just went back to bed, got up at 7:00.
Hopefully everybody is safe and sound and nobody was really hurt. It looked like especially in NAPA, I was in the truck with Hinchcliffe before the race, his hotel was destroyed. He had to move from his hotel room at 3:30 in the morning and spend the rest of the night sleeping in his car. Penske was in the same situation. I spoke to Will before the race, and he thought he was dying.
Q. You got a good night’s sleep?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I felt fine. I was good (laughter).
Q. When I think of New Zealand drivers, I think of relaxed, good-natured, almost an easygoing approach to the sport. Does that help you, especially late in the season when the pressure is on and everything is getting more intense?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, maybe. My wife always says that I’m emotionless, which she doesn’t like too much. But I think for me the toughest part especially of our championship year, coming down to the last two or three races, if you’re in the championship fight, I think those are the times when you just got to do your job. It’s just another race. You got to try and do what you did at the other races when you won.
But, you know, I don’t know. I think, yes, in New Zealand obviously, wherever everybody comes from, they’re a little different, the people you grow up with, just the way you live is a little bit different.
I’m pretty much a Hoosier now. I’ve been since 1999 living in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, I don’t get back home too often. But there were actually a lot of Kiwis here today, New Zealanders.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT DIXON: Earthquakes, and we have a lot of volcanos down there.
Q. Scott, you have two victories in the last three races, potential to make it three out of the final four. Do you see the potential that that could do the same for you in 2015 as what it did for Will?
SCOTT DIXON: I think it’s the main goal. I think it’s definitely the reason why we’re not fighting right at the pointy end of the championship, is because we started so bad.
So, yeah, if we can do that. I think next year is a little more wide open. I know Chevy have put a lot of effort into the bodywork and I’m sure Honda has as well. The engines are pretty close right now. Chevy have a foothold on reliability and straight-up power. I think we have a good combination there. I think we can do a better job in tuning the car to the way Chevy drives for next year. I think we started to touch on that the last part of this year.
In the last two team meetings with Chip we spoke heavily on the fact that we have to make sure we carry some momentum, finish strong, get all four cars at the top of the championship, push hard through the winter to start the season strong. Hopefully that’s what we can do. We won’t know until we get until next year.