Scott Dixon won’t be focusing on the IndyCar Series title this weekend in St. Petersburg with the Kiwi believing a more straightforward approach to win the race as key to sealing a sixth career crown.
Dixon has finished on the St. Pete podium five times in the last 15 outings. But the Chip Ganassi racer has never won on the street circuit, a pattern he is aiming to break this weekend.
The Kiwi does not have to win on Monday morning to close within one championship of A.J Foyt’s record of seven titles set in 1979. He will only need a top-nine finish to prevent title contender Josef Newgarden from stealing the crown from under his nose.
But Dixon says the title showdown won’t deter his focus on breaking his St. Pete victory duck as he looks to exhibit a race-winning mentality.
“Flat out, man,” Dixon said on NBC when asked how he’ll manage a 32-point lead over Newgarden.
“That’s the only way you can race. You’ve got to keep it simple. You don’t want to complicate things or make things cloudy. You don’t want to be like, ‘Well, we only need to be ninth. It doesn’t matter where we qualify.’
“You don’t want to be putting yourself in that situation because then you become more vulnerable. So yes, we’re in a great situation. But it doesn’t guarantee you anything.”
Several IndyCar pundits would not have predicted a last race showdown considering Dixon’s impeccable start to the season which was highlighted by winning the opening three races on the trot.
The No.9 Honda had a championship lead that exceeded 100 points. Yet unforced driver errors and a slip in team form has cost Dixon 85 points in the last five races.
“For us, it’s about doing the obvious things right,” Dixon added. “I think we got ourselves into a bit of a tailspin the last few events and tried to get a bit too smart for ourselves and maybe skip over the actual situation we should be in and just doing the obvious things right, and we didn’t do that.
“And I made a mistake (at) Mid-Ohio, if I hadn’t spun, the championship would be spoken for, so we will go (to St. Pete) there to win.
“We know Penske has an excellent track record there, and there’s a lot more Josef has to do, but as we’ve seen, the guy on the last row of the grid can win that race if you get a flip in the strategy. It can break loose pretty quickly.
“Simply, we’re going there to win, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”