INDIANAPOLIS – A dominating performance in the season-opening Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway has five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon off to a fast start.
He is hoping that momentum is enough to help him finally win Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after finishing second in the annual race on the IMS road course the last three seasons.
Team Penske drivers Will Power and Simon Pagenaud are the only drivers to win the GMR Grand Prix in its six previous runnings. Both drivers have won it three times.
Saturday’s second race of the NTT IndyCar Series season is scheduled to begin at Noon EST. It will be followed by the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pennzoil 150 at 3 p.m.
The Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at the Brickyard Presented by Big Machine Records NASCAR Cup Series race is scheduled for Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
All three races will be televised live on NBC.
No spectators will be allowed to attend the race because of State of Indiana and Marion County health concerns over COVID-19.
When the fans tune into NBC, Dixon is hopeful they see him finally finish the Indy GP as the winner.
“With the Indy GP, we have finished second a lot,” said Dixon, a five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion. “It’s a bit frustrating.
“Last year, we dominated the race until we didn’t make the adjustment on tires. We were a sitting duck the last five laps. I really like that track. It’s fun to race on. If you have a fast car, you can move to the front. The overtake is really interesting. You can’t rely on anything from year to year how you progress coming up to a new race.
“The frustration over the past few years of not pulling a win off at Indy on the road course has been tough. It’s a lot of inspiration.”
When the season finally began at Texas Motor Speedway, the Chip Ganassi Racing Hondas driven by Dixon and teammates Felix Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson were the class of the field. Rosenqvist ultimately crashed while trying to chase down Dixon in the closing stages of the race and Dixon went on to his 47th career Indy car win.
“Texas was an oval and this is a road course, but that momentum whenever you can win as far as a team is huge,” Dixon said. “For Chip Ganassi, across the board, the 10 (Rosenqvist) and the 8 (Ericsson) we were all going to be in the top seven. That is tough to do and it’s really good for team morale.
“The process we have been doing in the offseason, hopefully that applies to the road courses as well. At Texas, it was the first time working with Mike Cannon as the engineer. Hopefully, we can keep this ball rolling and one of us on the team get another win.”
Dixon has a new race engineer as Michael Cannon joined the team after most recently working for Dale Coyne Racing, where he was instrumental to Santino Ferrucci’s success as a rookie in 2019.
“It’s been really good working with Cannon,” Dixon said. “A lot of times when people come in from other teams, the integration of people and other personalities can be difficult, but he’s been a tremendous fit. He works really well with Chris Simmons and the other engineers. He doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder. He is very relaxed, and his demeanor is fun to work with. He’s a good guy.
“I’m lucky because Simmons is still on the stand as well. They bounce off each other very well. It’s nice to have a fresh set of eyes to talk about other ways of achieving similar things. It’s been refreshing from that standpoint. He’s a likable person and a super competitor. I really like working with him so far.
“He is old school but so is Simmons and Julian Robertson. That temperament or direction has been fairly similar. He is more of an old school engineer who listens to the driver more than looks at the data. He looks at the data and understands that as well. Simmons is like that, too. He was a driver. To have that relationship with someone who raced cars and understands it from a driver point of view is quite a big thing to have.
“He is quirky. He is a funny, interesting guy. He has fit in really well.”
It will also be another important test for IndyCar’s aeroscreen as Saturday’s high temperature in Indianapolis is predicted to be 93 degrees. According to Dixon, there are different cooling options available for the drivers on the Indy road course with a larger helmet cooling tube and nose box.
But at Texas, the drink bottle system on all three Ganassi cars failed, so the three drivers had to complete the race without the ability to take in additional fluids.
“That was frustrating,” Dixon said. “I was pleasantly surprised at the road course test (COTA in February) how cool the car was. As a series, we have done well to make sure there is adequate cooling in the car as well.”
Saturday’s race will start a very important portion of the schedule for the NTT IndyCar Series, with five races in a 15-day period. That will play a major role in separating the championship contenders from the rest of the field.
“We are missing two races, but we have a lot of doubleheaders,” Dixon said. “They are fun racing weekends. I’ve enjoyed doubleheaders, but the dynamic of the season has changed a lot. You are honestly going to have to keep your head down, don’t lift and keep pushing until it is all over. It will be an interesting year for many people. We are very lucky to be racing and have this opportunity. That is what you have to focus on the most and make the most of the opportunity we’ve been given.
“We’ll have to hammer down and try to go for another championship.”