Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon says Alexander Rossi and Andretti Autosport have the advantage heading to this weekend’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Dixon believes testing by Andretti Autosport at Gateway – by virtue of their IndyLights team – will prove advantageous to Rossi and his championship challenge: “I think Andretti have tested at just about every track possible with the Indy Lights days. I know they tested there (Gateway), we didn’t test there”, explained the 4-time IndyCar Series champion.
Dixon: “pretty tough” to race at tracks without testing
According to Dixon, IndyCar’s current oval race weekend exacerbates the problem: “Right now with the oval format, you get an hour practice. It’s pretty tough to get everything, even race running and through it with a new car that we haven’t really run at any of these places.”
A lack of testing for the Ganassi driver could prove to be decisive in the 2018 IndyCar championship. Ahead of the return to St Louis, the impact has already been felt by Dixon following Rossi’s dominant win at Pocono: “I think we did the best we could with what we had. I don’t think our car was very good.”
“We didn’t test here. Penske didn’t test here either. Fundamentally we didn’t really roll off the truck very well.”
On the subject of overcoming those challenges and running the 2018 aerokit at Gateway, Dixon’s response was fairly candid: “You just hope you roll off strong. That’s all you hope for: that when you hit the track, the car’s good.”
“Hopefully what we learnt last year will help. Even then I imagine it’s going to be pretty easy to make a mistake in the race. It’s going to be maybe a little tough to pass, too.”
29-point lead with 3 races to go
Having seen his championship lead trimmed to 29-points at the Pocono ABC Supply 500, Dixon is cautious on his prospects for the final races of the season: “I think everybody at this level right now, preparation is key, and everybody is at a very high level. Andretti have done a very good job. Rossi himself, I think even stepping up against his teammates, too, has put himself on a bit of an island there.”
Dixon remains in the catbird seat for a fifth IndyCar championship with 3 races remaining. A title that would take the Kiwi ahead of Mario Andretti and his long-time friend and former teammate Dario Franchitti on the all-time winners’ list.
In typical fashion, IndyCar’s very own ‘Iceman’ is reserved about his prospects: “These championships are never easy to win. They never will be. We’ll give it our best. Hopefully, it’s enough.”
The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta & Valvoline takes the green flag for practice and qualifying on Friday, August 24 at 12.15pm and 4.15pm respectively. The race will start 7.40pm Saturday, August 25 for a total of 248 laps of the 1.25-mile oval.