Dixon looks to complete career California track sweep

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He won at Long Beach earlier this year, and he won at Sonoma last fall (also in 2007).

So on Saturday, Scott Dixon has a shot now to complete a career sweep of the three California race tracks that currently make up the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, if he can deliver a win Saturday afternoon in the MAVTV 500 at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway.

Asked whether it would mean anything to have a single state “triple crown,” as you were, the driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet replied that it doesn’t mean more or less than any other win would mean.

“Always. You always want to win, no matter what track it is. It’s rewarding definitely the first time you maybe get to have a shot at winning,” Dixon told reporters during a teleconference Wednesday.

“Fontana, we’ve had mixed results there. Last year we were very dominant I think with both cars. T.K. (Tony Kanaan) did a phenomenal job capturing the win late in the race, to take that.

“I think we’ve done well on ovals so far this year. The car was very good at Indy, despite the overheating of the engine at the end of the race that cost us another shot at the 500. And in Texas, both the 9 and the 10 were definitely the class of the field.”

Fontana will be a different ballgame for the field this year, shifting to a day race after it has traditionally been a night race in the past.

“We’ll have to see how it goes for Fontana this weekend, but typically a track I think the team does quite well at. Hopefully we can continue that trend,” Dixon said.

“Obviously different conditions this year going from a night race to a day race. It should hopefully be not too hot. Looks like the temperatures are kind of mild for this time of year.

“But I think degradation and trying to maintain pace over a stint is going to be the tough situation, especially with the track temp being higher during the day.”

Dixon’s crew’s decision to run a higher downforce setup at Texas Motor Speedway paid dividends as the New Zealander captured his second win of 2015 there.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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