PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, is ready for the green flag to drop on the 2020 season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 15th.
“Yeah looking forward to it,” Dixon told The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast. “It’s been a long off-season. I think one of the biggest changes this off-season is there hasn’t been too much testing. Actually I’ve been one of the lucky ones that’s had to at least test the aeroscreen early on. I think Felix (Rosenqvist) has had just one day so far before the season kicks off March 15. We get one day this week at Sebring before we fire off, so I’m pumped man! Everybody is excited to get going again.”
Dixon did get to do some testing, helping the NTT INDYCAR SERIES test and develop the new-for-2020 Aeroscreen safety device, which is the next evolution in driver protection. Pittsburgh-headquartered PPG makes the Opticor, which is like a windshield, for the Aeroscreen.
“There’s definitely been some evolution,” said Dixon. “I think once they got to this final version with the help of PPG and Red Bull Technologies. You know Red Bull has tried to implement this in Formula 1. Formula 1 and the FIA decided to go with just the halo, which is kind of the frame piece, and now having both you know IndyCar’s probably a little special too with the oval racing and with the way the debris field can be and a lot of the smaller pieces and so I think this covers both bases.”
Dixon welcomes the safety advancement and said there was one thing he noticed right away.
“Honestly it has been very smooth,” said Dixon, who has 45-career race wins, behind only A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti. “I think the only kind of hiccup throughout the off-season, which was kind of expected, was just the lack of airflow. The cars a lot more closed. The driver then became a lot hotter just because there was nothing to cool you, so I think through the series of testing we were able to participate in a little bit, plus other things, they’ve come up with some good ducting and some areas for improvement on that. We had the first test at COTA a couple of weeks ago and everything seemed to go pretty smoothly.”
Dixon was back in a race car in January at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona but for this first time with a team other than Chip Ganassi’s team, who’s Sports Car program is on hiatus since the Ford GT program came to an end after the 2019 season.
“This is the first time in a while that I’ve kind of stepped out of the situation of running for Chip,” said Dixon. “Chip over the last four years we had the Ford GT program at (Rolex 24 at) Daytona and other races throughout the season but this year I joined Wayne Taylor’s team at Daytona 24-Hours, which worked out fantastically winning my fourth Daytona which was a little bit unexpected going into that race but the car was fantastic.”
When Dixon hasn’t been racing or testing this off-season, he’s been busy at home changing diapers. Dixon, his wife Emma and daughters Poppy and Tilly welcomed son Kit on December 27th.
“He’s been amazing,” said Dixon, whose nickname is the “Iceman”. “He’s very chilled and very relaxed and already sleeping very well through the night. I think it definitely has been a bit of a reset for us. I think when you look at Tilly’s age (8) and Poppy’s ten so there’s been a little bit of a lull with Kit arriving. You know for us we probably wanted more kids earlier on but with how things worked out we never really did but excited to have a healthy baby in the house.”
Dixon and his wife Emma, a competitive runner in her own right, resisted the urge to find out whether they were going to have a boy or a girl.
“We were shocked. We didn’t know what the sex was going to be and to see it was a boy. I’m not really sure what to do with a boy, I’ve had two girls so I’m excited,” Dixon joked.
— Scott Dixon (@scottdixon9) December 30, 2019
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg kicks off the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for the 10th consecutive year and has blossomed into one of the Series marquee events.
“I think that’s what really important these days is making sure that there’s something for everybody in the family, not just the hardcore motor racing enthusiast that wants to go check out the cars and things like that, there’s other things throughout the day that can keep you amused and keep you interested,” said Dixon. “St. Pete, I think do a fantastic job of that and it’s more because of the City really embraces the race as well and they get involved and they promote it and they make it fun for everybody. They’re very lucky to have that support of everybody in that community and it really shows once you get there.”
There is one thing that Dixon would like to change about the race at St. Petersburg.
“Win,” exclaimed Dixon. “I think we’ve finished second four or five times before but have never been able to get that victory. Be a great way to kick off the Championship for us is to try and go for a win there, one spot better than we ended up there last year.”
The best thing about a new season is the challenge to presented to teams and drivers but Dixon’s approach has stayed the same as he embarks on his 19th season with CGR.
“We set two goals every year,” said Dixon. “First to win the Indianapolis 500, which comes up in May, and then go to on and try and capture our sixth Championship which we’ll be putting our head down hard and hopefully drive that PNC Bank No. 9 into victory lane.”
Click the link to hear the complete interview with Scott Dixon on The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast.
Check out the new PNC Bank digital ad featuring Dixon and the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Team by clicking the Tweet below:
You don’t see them on the podium when Scott Dixon takes the checkered flag, but there’s a whole team behind the No. 9 PNC Car.
— PNC Bank (@PNCBank) February 26, 2020
INDYCAR Adding Nashville Street Race For 2021
NASHVILLE, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and The Music City Grand Prix are teaming up to bring an INDYCAR race to the streets of Nashville, Tennessee in 2021.
The Music City Grand Prix will take place from August 6-8, 2021. The 11-turn, 2.17-mile temporary circuit will use Nissan Stadium as the paddock and will race across the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge into Downtown Nashville making the track the first to cross over a major body of water.
“The Tennessee Titans and Nissan Stadium are excited to partner with the Music City Grand Prix to bring the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to Nashville and the stadium campus,” said Burke Nihill, President and CEO of the Tennessee Titans. “This is in keeping with our organizational goal of making our city, this venue and our organization as versatile and as busy as possible.”
“The Music City Grand Prix will be a one-of-a-kind NTT INDYCAR SERIES experience anchored in the heart of Nashville’s action-packed, exhilarating downtown corridor,” said Mark Miles, President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “Urban street festivals have become a huge part of our DNA at INDYCAR, and this three-day festival—complete with a course that pushes the limits—will highlight everything Nashville and the sport have to offer, providing international travelers, racing enthusiasts and local thrill-seekers alike with an experience of a lifetime.”
The Music City Grand Prix weekend will feature the best Nashville has to offer, including live music performances by top artists, best-in-class chef-curated food experiences and entertainment that centers on speed in a way only Music City can serve up.
“Nashville is a special place, and the announcement of the Music City Grand Prix truly marks a huge step forward for our community as we look to the future and a return of our thriving and unique entertainment scene,” said Nashville Mayor John Cooper. “This announcement could not have come at a better time. The event represents a tremendous private investment in the city and a catalyst to our economic recovery.”
Additional information, including the Music City Grand Prix schedules, artist lineup, food experiences and more, will be released at a later date. Visit www.musiccitygp.com to find more details on the event, sign up for Club RPM, a premium VIP experience, or to become a Music City Grand Prix Founder – and receive reserved seating, exclusive discounts and priority purchase opportunities on parking, hotels and more.
Scott Dixon Escapes Mid-Ohio With INDYCAR Points Lead Despite Struggles
LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is sitting on a 72-point lead in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship standings despite an uncharacteristic weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the 5-Time Series Champion.
Dixon and CGR were hoping to pad their points lead at a venue where the track President Craig Rust said, “Scott kind of owns this place.” A track where the “Iceman” has 6-wins and the team has 11-wins.
The weekend didn’t unfold that way. Dixon started Race 1 on Saturday in the 17th position after struggling in qualifying. Dixon worked his way up through the field early but couldn’t make up any more ground once he got to the Top 10. Contact at the end of pit road with Colton Herta didn’t help. Dixon finished 10th.
Team Penske’s Will Power won the race and his teammate Josef Newgarden, Dixon’s closest pursuer in the Championship, finished second to gain 20-points in the title fight.
“It’s was just OK for us today in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda,” said Dixon. “It just didn’t play out the way we thought it would. We went with a cautious move and made sure we ran the red tires first based on what we saw in qualifying. I guess looking back maybe we should have gone the other way, but who knows? Then we got caught up with (Colton) Herta on the pit exit, and I’m not sure what happened there or why he slowed up or whatever, but I thought we might have broken the front end after that. I hit him pretty hard, but I guess at the end of the day we made up seven or so spots, and that’s a small win.”
Sunday’s Race 2 looked like the No. 9 team would have a better day. Dixon qualified third and barely missed a first lap accident when Santino Ferrucci, who went off track approaching Turn 4, came back on track right beside the points leader. Ferrucci made contact with his teammate Alex Palou, who made contact with Dixon’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist ending both drivers days.
Dixon settled in behind Herta, who was leading, and remained there through the first round of pit stops. The No. 9 team elected to go with the Black sidewall “primary” Firestone tires while the other front runner elected to go with the faster Red sidewall “alternate” tires, which are initially quicker but do not last as long as the primary tires.
Disaster struck on Lap 22 when Dixon lost control of the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda in turn 1, the fastest corner on the track. Dixon didn’t hit anything but the track remained under green flag conditions dropping him to 20th position.
“We really struggled on the restarts with tire pressures for some reason,” said Dixon. “I had a bunch of guys in front of me on alternate tires and I got too aggressive. I got on the overtake button at the exit of Turn 1 and spun the tires and spun the car. It was just a stupid, rookie mistake and I feel bad for the PNC Bank team.”
SCOTT DIXON SPINS!
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) September 13, 2020
Dixon and his “Wolfpack” Crew put their heads down and went to work, fighting back to a 10th place finish by passing rookie Rinus Veekay on the last lap.
“We managed to fight back until the very end and pick up some spots,” said Dixon, obviously frustrated with the way the day transpired. “We should have never been in that position to begin with.”
Newgarden and the No. 2 PPG Paints Team Penske crew couldn’t take advantage of Dixon’s misfortune and finished only two-spots ahead in 8th place.
“We were just a little too average today,” said Newgarden. “We were just kind of stuck where we were all day, to be honest. We just need to work on getting a little more race pace. I think that’s what we were lacking.”
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES has the next two weekend off before returning with the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix Doubleheader October 2-3 on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Dixon won in July.
Colton Herta Wins Race 2 Of Honda Indy 200 At Mid Ohio
LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Colton Herta led an Andretti Autosport podium sweep after winning Race 2 of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Honda 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Herta started on the pole position and survived an early altercation with Santino Ferrucci to lead 57 of 75-laps en route to the victory.
“I’m so happy,” said Herta. “We’ve been knocking on the door almost every weekend. We’ve had the pace. But for some reason or another, one thing has gone wrong or this thing has gone wrong. We finally put everything together.”
Andretti’s Alexander Rossi trailed Herta to the finish line by 1.3826 seconds. Fellow Andretti driver Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third in the No. 28 DHL Honda, 2.4965 seconds behind Herta.
“I’m just so happy for Andretti Autosport and Michael (Andretti),” said Rossi. “It’s been a terrible year for us, kind of globally. So, to do this … hat’s off to Colton (Herta) and the 88 guys to get the win. But then just to sweep the podium.”
“I think all in all, it was a pretty good day considering we started eighth and finished third,” said Hunter-Reay. “It was great to have an all-Andretti podium for the whole team. I think everyone really needed this.”
The last time Andretti Autosport swept the podium was in 2005 at St. Petersburg when Dan Wheldon scored the win and fellow Andretti teammates Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta – Colton Herta’s father – followed to sweep the top four finishing positions for what was known as Andretti Green Racing at the time.
There are three races left in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. The next event is the INDYCAR Harvest GP doubleheader Oct. 2-3 on the 2.439-mile IMS road course. The season ends with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, Oct. 25.