Scott Dixon says he never thought he would be mentioned in the same award as racing greats AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti more than 20 years on from his first IndyCar race win.
With his 52nd victory, Dixon moved to second-equal on the all-time race win record list with Andretti. Only Foyt sits above them on 67 race wins.
At 41 years old, the Kiwi is still a bonafide contender for a seventh IndyCar Series title, which, if achieved, would put him level first with Foyt.
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Dixon is, without doubt, the modern-day equivalent of the aforementioned motor racing legends, although the ‘Ice Man’ remains as humble as ever.
“It means a lot,” said Dixon of equaling Andretti.
“I love Mario. I love Mario for so many reasons, what he’s done in the sport, achieved, what he gives back to the sport.
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“I feel extremely lucky to have the likes of himself and AJ here most weekends. Even to sit and chat with these guys, the generations that they raced in, or the time they raced, is a lot different from now.
“It means a lot to me, to even be mentioned in the same conversation as these greats. I never thought it was possible.
“For me, it’s a huge credit to obviously the team that I work with now, but also the team that I started with.
“Whether it was mum and dad to my brothers and sisters, all of my family, to the Scott Dixon Motorsport Group, which were the founders of getting a group together to put forward money and enable to get me to where I am today.”
It’s been a long time since Dixon’s first triumph in 2001 for PacWest Racing, so much so that the venue of his first triumph, Nazareth Speedway, is no longer raced upon.
Of his 52 wins, 51 of them have been with Chip Ganassi Racing who he claimed his first of six titles with in 2003.
Between 2007 and 2015, Dixon finished no lower than third in the drivers’ championship. His most recent title came only recently in 2020 which he led from start to finish.
“I remember the day winning my first race,” Dixon recounted.
“The next day was a real struggle, probably had a few too many drinks that night. I don’t think I was even 21 at that point. That was a bit of a shock for the bar I was in that night.
“But I remember even having the conversation with Michael Andretti about getting to his number. ‘Man, you’re crazy, it’s not going to happen.’ He’s like, ‘No, it’s going to happen.
“The first win, there’s some numbers that are achievable, but I think when you look at even getting to the Unsers [Al Unser and Al Unser Jr.], then Mario, this sport can be super tricky. You can be in it one minute and out the next.
“I think having the consistency and the understanding with the team, having that common ground of trying to win, it becomes the life of it being more achievable that comes.
“Honestly, at the age of 20, man, trust me, I had other things on my mind at that point. I was just trying to keep my job.”
And what of the big scalp? Dixon reckons he’ll not challenge Foyt’s tally of 67 wins, but wouldn’t rule it out.
“I’ll probably have to be racing well into my 50s for that one,” said Dixon.
“It’s hard. The competition’s really tough right now. Even the luckiness of pulling strategies, if you have a bad day, pull off a win from weird cautions and things like that, gets a lot trickier because there’s so many good teams now.
“You have a field of 25 or 27 every weekend that they’re going to be thinking the same ultimate strategy.
“It’s tough, but we’ll keep going, man. If we can get on a roll here and knock out some wins, anything’s possible. AJ’s pretty safe, I think.”
The IndyCar Series continues across July 24-25 (AEST) at Iowa Speedway with a double-header on the oval.
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