Scott Dixon says several unknowns are still to be revealed heading into the opening round of the 2021 IndyCar season.
The defending champion is hunting down a seventh career title this year.
However, he admits that the lack of pre-season testing in the build-up to the opening race means nobody knows where they sit in the pecking order.
“It is kind of hard to tell,” Dixon said on the Trackside podcast. “With this year, testing has been a bit scattered. We never really had an open test bar the one at Indianapolis.
“But when you look at when we tested at Barber or Sebring, not many tests everyone was all together. Traditionally, teams all pick similar days so that you can get benchmarks and things like that.
“There is a lot of unknowns. It is going to be hard to see where we fit.
“Last year, we needed to work on as a team qualifying on road courses. In 2019 I think we had one of the best qualifying averages, and then last year, we stunk it up a little bit.
“I think we have worked hard on it, we just need to see how the competition is.”
For the first time in series history, Barber Motorsport Park is the first round on the race calendar.
It is a circuit that Dixon has claimed eight podiums at since 2010 and has only finished off the rostrum on two occasions.
Though victory at Barber continues to elude the Kiwi, something he hopes to finally snare this weekend.
“Eight podiums, right.” Dixon laughed. “You keep knocking on the window, and eventually, it is going to have to open.
“But it is a circuit I love. It is a place the team has done exceptionally well at.
“I’m just pumped to get the season started. It is kind of weird that we are not going to St. Pete, but excited to see fans and get cracking on with 2021.”
Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing team has expanded their operations to field a fourth car for the 2021 championship.
Filling the driver’s seat for the road courses will be NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson, who embarks on his rookie year.
Dixon was effusive in his praise for his new teammate’s work effort, though he believes Johnson still has a lot left to learn.
“It is pretty insane the task he has taken on,” Dixon said.
“Jimmie’s work effort and the way he works up to it, you can see why he is a seven-time NASCAR champion.
“But he now has to unlearn everything you have been doing for the past 20 years and start from scratch.
“I think the biggest and most difficult thing this time around for a lot of people is just the lack of pre-season testing.
“I came in, and our team probably had about 50 days of testing. Now we are limited to maybe five or six, so that makes it a lot tougher.
“It is going to be a super steep learning curve for the first year, but I think he is up to the challenge.”
The Honda Grand Prix of Alabama will be held on Monday, April 19 at 7 am NZT and can be caught live on Sky Sport 5.