Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chevrolet, didn’t start off the Iowa Corn 300 race weekend at Iowa Speedway on a good note. He had issues in the first practice, however, he was able to qualify decently. With the adversity accounted for, a first Iowa podium has the veteran driver happy.
“I think considering how the weekend started, it was pretty damn good,” Dixon quoted. “We tried a few different things on Friday. Unfortunately, we tried to stick it out. I think we were 16th or 17th in the final warmup. Just threw last year’s setup on it and basically ran that, which was similar to what the 10 car had been running all weekend. I think unfortunately with a wholesale change like that, we spent much of the race just trying to dial the car in, at least the balance, and we had way too much understeer early on. It was nice to start the race, was pretty consistent, but fell off a lot towards the end.
“I feel we would have been definitely in the hunt at the end. As Will said, I don’t think anybody really had anything for Josef today. Huge credit to that team. They did a hell of a job. Josef deserved that big-time. Good to see him get a win. For me it’s nice to have an Iowa go somewhat smooth. First time on the podium. I’ll all smiles. Big thanks to the Team Target for giving me something that was close to the front.”
During the race there was a time Dixie was close enough to race leader Josef Newgarden he was able to get a good run on him down the back stretch but he then quickly realized Newgarden’s car was better and to tough to overcome.
“I kind of looked at it going into one and two the first time,” Dixon added. “Then I could see that he was running the tight line, which was going to be quicker, but I was hoping it would burn the tires off pretty fast as well. The team had been running that line all day. I knew he was going to be very tough to beat. Seemed like he had a pretty spot-on balance. The car had a lot of grip that the rest of us didn’t quite have. “I think at the start, tried to push it for the first five or ten laps. Then I could feel I was abusing my fronts pretty heavily. We had a tear-off stuck to the front part of the wing, which under caution we tried to get off, running closely behind Josef. The run before we didn’t have that balance issue. I knew he was going to be extremely tough to beat.”
With the four-time IndyCar Champion’s third place finish, it moved him to fourth in the championship standings. He says it’s important to make the most of your good race’s so when you have a bad one you don’t lose ground.
“I think Josef made a pretty good chunk up on that today,” Dixon said. “We always kind of see this, whether it’s going to play true to what we see every year, where it starts to flip here pretty quickly, make a real championship of it. Don’t want to wish somebody bad luck, but he’s probably going to have to have some. He’s doing a great job. On days when they’re not at their best, they’re still getting good points. Huge achievement for their team. They’re going to have to work for it. That’s what it comes down to. A lot of championships, I find that towards the end it becomes a real race for the points.”
The 2008 Indy 500 champion says Iowa is much different during a day race like they raced this season compared to a night race like they raced in previous years. He says with the track temp being a lot higher, it creates a different dynamic. He added the tire falloff was hugely significant.
“I think when we had the night races, the last stint or two you could run pretty much flat through all those hundred plus laps,” Dixon added. “I think the track is getting a little more character with some of the patches, a little bit bumpy in some spots. You still have two lanes that are very useful. “It got spread out a little bit today. But I think as far as putting on a good show, good racing, it was definitely tough to manage the tires, you know, manage your car, and try to chase it a little bit as the track gripped up through the later hours.”
Early in the morning on race day it rained at the track which washed away all rubber that was laid down, making the track a green one. It also was ten degrees cooler than they originally thought it was going to be. The New Zealand driver says normally they make changes based on the weather, however, him and his team were going to make a bunch of changes already and knew it would be tough to get the car dialed in well on the first couple of stints.
“I don’t know,” Dixon stated. I” think the rain, because we had the ARCA rubber last night, I think that was probably pretty good for it to wash some of that off. It didn’t seem that bad. First couple stints were pretty low grip. The track temp was way up, being later in the afternoon. “I don’t know. I think everybody ran as much downforce as they possibly could. When you have days that factor in the ambiance a little bit, you can trim a little bit more, like we saw at the Indianapolis road course, that changes it. But today I think everybody was just running pretty much as much as they could.”