Justin R. Noe/ASP, Inc
Photo: Justin R. Noe/ASP, Inc.

Ganassi, Dixon Partnership Far From Over

By Josh Farmer, Contributing Journalist

The relationship between driver Scott Dixon and team owner Chip Ganassi has aged so well, they only want more of it.

That was confirmed Monday when it was announced the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion signed a multi-year extension to remain at Chip Ganassi Racing. Dixon was in a contract year and was a target of a handful of potential team owners, including a potentially lucrative offer from a proposed McLaren IndyCar team.

The driver of the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda noted that while some offers may have been entertaining, he wanted to maintain the excellent relationship he has at CGR.

“I think there was some moderate discussions going on, but that’s really all it fell to,” said Dixon. “I have a long history with Chip. I respect him for what he does and what he’s done for me and for the team and what we’ve achieved together. If there’s something rock solid, something that I think we need to talk about, I’m going to go to him first and we’re going to discuss it and see what we can work out.”

Ganassi echoed his driver’s sentiments and continued that his driver potentially becoming on the market only had him slightly concerned.

“I didn’t think there was a lot to it,” Ganassi said. “I’m sure there was some, and there should have been some. I mean, nobody wants a driver on their team nobody else wants, right?”

Dixon, who began his Indy car journey in 2001 driving for PacWest Racing, has scored all four of his championships (2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015) and all but one of his 43 wins under the Ganassi colors. His best season arguably came in 2008 when he claimed six wins, including one in the Indianapolis 500.

Ten years removed from that banner year, Dixon is fighting for championships. He has won three times this year, and moved into third on the all-time wins list, just behind Mario Andretti And AJ Foyt.

While he is completing his 18th season racing Indy cars, the 38-year-old New Zealander feels that his journey is far from over and the best may be yet to come.

“I guess on the long run, I still feel like I’m learning a lot,” he said. “As a driver and as the way I think, I think there are always areas that I can improve, and from the outside looking from afar, it’s probably a little hard for me to maybe assess that.

“I think as a team, we try to extract the most, and I think for me that’s the focus, not just myself but getting the most out of everyone.”

Ganassi also feels that more can be mined from his driver in the years to come.

“There’s guys that can win races, but there’s other guys that can win championships, and Scott has proven that,” said Ganassi. “He’s proven that he’s not just a normal run-of-the-mill driver in any sense, even in the — where he is in the overall win column speaks for itself.”

Dixon now wields a 46-point lead over Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi heading into this weekend’s ABC Supply 500 at the Pocono Raceway. Even with the points lead, Dixon is well aware of the task at hand and is happy with his position.

“I would always take leading the championship,” he said. “It’s a good position to be. As we know, the competition right now is definitely tough, and especially with the three or four that are in good striking position now. We know those teams, and with the remaining races, I think everybody has got a pretty good shot. We definitely won’t lie down. I badly want another championship, and so does the team.

“We’ve come from behind with big deficits, and in 2008 I think we almost led the whole season and it came down to the wire. So yeah, personally, we just want to keep this lead and take it all the way throughout Sonoma.”

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Josh Farmer joined the media center in 2012 after first discovering his love of IndyCar racing in 2004 at Auto Club Speedway. He has been an accredited member of the IndyCar media center since 2014 and also contributes to IndyCar.com along with The Motorsports Tribune.