It’s not the years, but the mileage for Scott Dixon going into 250th start

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Scott Dixon’s IndyCar career is old.

Like 250 races old.

The New Zealander who now resides in Indianapolis, still only 34 before he turns 35 later this month, will make his 250th career start in the Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend, when he starts his 12th race at the Milwaukee Mile.

Dixon is the longest tenured driver with Chip Ganassi Racing at 14 seasons, and is in his 15th year competing in IndyCar (two seasons in CART).

But as famous archaeologist Henry Jones Jr. once said, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage” that Dixon would rather brag about.

“When you see (that many) starts you definitely understand how long you’ve been around and kind of start to feel old, but the longevity is really cool as well,” Dixon told IndyCar.com.

“Motor racing is tough week-to-week opposed to foreseeing 10 years down the road and how it’s going to go. You hope for the best. Because of your passion and love for the sport, you want to be around a long time. I feel very lucky and privileged to be an Indy car driver.”

Lehigh Valley GP X Dixon
Scott Dixon drives to his first-career win in the 2001 Lehigh Valley Grand Prix.Getty Images

Dixon’s mileage and privilege began on March 11, 2001 in the Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey at Parque Fundidora in Monterrey, Mexico.

Two races later, Dixon earned his first and only CART win in the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix at Nazareth Speedway. The 1-mile track hasn’t hosted a race of any kind since 2004.

That season Dixon raced for owner Bruce McCaw, but in 2002 started his relationship with Ganassi – fittingly, at the Milwaukee Mile – after McCaw’s team folded.

Dixon earned his first win for Ganassi in the 2003 IRL season opener at Homestead, which started the first of his three championship campaigns.

“It was lovely, I couldn’t believe it,” Dixon told ABC while still sitting in his cockpit.

Through the two series, Dixon has earned 37 wins, 84 podiums and 24 poles. Then there’s the three championships and of course, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 victory, which was win No. 13.

His latest win, No. 37, came in June in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. During the media day for the race, MotorSports Talk asked Dixon about the time immediately before his IndyCar career, when he spent two years competing in the Indy Lights series.

“For me it was that certain age, I was 18, 19,” Dixon said. “It was the next logical step in something that taught me the style of racing in America, aerodynamics. There was so much I learned in those two years. Without that in my career, I don’t think I would have progressed on.”

During those two years, Dixon competed in 24 races and won seven times while driving for Johansson Motorsports and PacWest Lights.

“Maybe I would have done something else, maybe I would have raced in Europe. I would’ve changed paths for sure. I think Indy Lights was massively competitive back then with over 25 cars on the grid and very good competition. Those were every big learning years for me for sure.”

Those learning years are still paying off for Dixon, who has two wins and is third in points as IndyCar visits Milwaukee on Sunday.

Milwaukee witnessed Dixon’s 19th career win in 2009. Through 11 races at the 1-mile track, Dixon has an average finish of 4.5.

“It has a lot of character and the track is definitely the toughest short track we go to – maybe even one of the toughest tracks that we’ve ever been to as a series, in my opinion,” Dixon said in a release. “I was fortunate enough to win there in 2009 and had some great battles there with some podiums.

“But I’ve also had some dreadful days there, crashing two cars in four laps once in practice and qualifying and then going home before the race. I’ve had many highs and lows there.”

At 34, Dixon still has plenty of mileage left in him. Mileage full of starts, highs and lows that could one day lead to career start No. 300, which Dixon says is now his goal.

“As long as you work hard and work on the idea of winning championships, victory is going to come,” Dixon told IndyCar.com. “We’ve been fairly decent this year and hopefully we can build on it and have a crack at the end for another championship.”

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Scott Dixon’s first IndyCar/CART race was on March 11, 2001.

Scott Dixon’s career is so old that….

  • “The Mexican” starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts was the No. 1 movie at the box office after two weeks in theaters.
  • The song “Stutter” by Joe Thomas feat. Mystikal was in its third of four weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.
  • In the NASCAR world, this was happening on the same day…                                                            
  • John Grisham’s “A Painted House” was in its third week as the No. 1 fiction book on the New York Times’ bestseller list.
  • Jon Stewart was in his third year of hosting the “The Daily Show.”
  • The iTunes software was only two months old. The first iPod wouldn’t be introduced for another six months.
  • The NCAA basketball tournament started two days later. Duke would win its third NCAA title.

 

Ricky Brabec wins 2017 Sonora Rally (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Ricky Brabec wins Sonora Rally. Photo: Sonora Rally
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Honda rider Ricky Brabec, who won a stage at this year’s Dakar Rally, has captured the victory in last week’s Sonora Rally, held March 21-24 in Sonora, Mexico.

He led all four of the special stages in a start-to-finish romp for victory.

Despite Joan Barreda and Steve Hengeveld’s injuries that ruled them out of the rally, Brabec still had to focus on the job at hand.

“You are really racing against yourself out here, against the terrain,” he said in a release.  “I’m much more familiar now with open up a course than I was back in January at Dakar when I had to do it for the first time.”

Fellow Honda riders Mark Samuels and Andrew Short completed the podium. Samuels won the Sonora Rally’s Dakar Challenge, which presents a free opportunity for a rider to enter the 2018 Dakar Rally.

“The hard work of getting to Dakar is still ahead of me, but I will do everything in my power to make America proud,” Samuels said.

Polaris ATR rider Dave Sykes won the UTV class, with Eric Pucelik and Mike Shirley winning the Cars class.

On background, the Sonora Rally is the only event of its kind in North America. The rally raid format requires street legal vehicles to transit along untimed “liaison” sections and timed “special stages” over multiple days, with the lowest combined time winning the event. Now in its third year, the Sonora Rally realizes the vision of founders Scott Whitney and Darren Skilton to bring a world class rally raid event to these shores (2016 recap).

Brabec’s winning ride is captured in the below video, via Race-Dezert.

Meanwhile, because photos do this event more justice than words do, those are below (All Photos: Sonora Rally)

Webber: Alonso may not see out the season with McLaren

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Mark Webber never had the easiest time in Formula 1, particularly his latter years as the number two driver at Red Bull Racing to Sebastian Vettel.

That being said, he was never on the verge of leaving it directly until he announced his plans to move to Porsche’s LMP1 Team, where he raced for three years from 2014 to 2016 before retiring at the end of last season.

But the Australian pondered whether Fernando Alonso might not be able to see out the season with McLaren Honda, if the team and manufacturer’s woes continue.

“Alonso may not stay with the team,” Webber told Belgian outlet Sporza. “Maybe Stoffel (Vandoorne) soon will have a new teammate.”

“I could see it happen that Alonso does not drive out the season. He is very frustrated. Fernando doesn’t start for a sixth or seventh place; he wants to fight for the podium.”

Webber added that for Vandoorne’s sake, starting in a team with lower expectations might not be the worst thing for him. It may allow the Belgian rookie to learn without extra pressure, since the onus is focused on the team.

For Alonso though, time is of the essence for what’s left of his career in F1. This is his last season under contract with McLaren Honda and he made no secret of his frustration for how well he drove at Melbourne, yet the car wasn’t up for it.

“Well the race was good, one of my best races driving like that,” Alonso told NBCSN post-race. “The car’s uncompetitive and to be close for a point was a nice surprise. It was good fuel saving as well. I was surprised to keep it in the points. A suspension (issue) stopped us from getting this point.

“I feel very well prepared, driving at the best of my career, and I’m fighting for one point. That’s disappointing and frustrating. But so long as I’m driving at my best, it’s a problem for the team… not me.”

Rosberg, Button soak up their first weekends out of F1 (PHOTOS)

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Since 2008, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have won seven World Championships. The two drivers that won titles in that period not named Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – Nico Rosberg (2016) and Jenson Button (2009) – were both enjoying their first weekends not on a Formula 1 grid as full-time drivers for the first time in more than a decade this weekend as the 2017 season commenced at Melbourne’s Albert Park.

Rosberg made a visit to preseason testing in Barcelona a few weeks ago for his first appearance as spectator since winning the World Championship. But he watched from home this weekend with his family and posted a few thoughts during both qualifying and the race:

We’re now quite familiar with Rosberg’s home TV set and coffee table. This is the first time Rosberg has been out of an F1 race since 2005, the year he won the first GP2 championship.

Button meanwhile paid a visit to California for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana… once he got off his couch. He checked in with seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson at Fontana.

Do you guys know if there's anything good to watch on tele this weekend? @storm_and_rogue_pomskies

A post shared by Jenson Button (@jensonbutton_22) on

Given McLaren Honda’s struggles, Button is probably smart to have got out when he did. He’d been on the grid since 2000, save for a couple races out in 2005 when BAR-Honda was barred from competing after being disqualified from the San Marino Grand Prix.

Meanwhile for Rosberg, he watched as Mercedes was unable to win the season opener for the first time since 2013.

DJR Team Penske wins three of four Supercars races at Melbourne

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DJR Team Penske has won its first Virgin Australia Supercars Championship races over the weekend during the Australian Grand Prix, with Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard taking the first three wins in the four-race, non-championship race weekend.

While Penske’s teams have long succeeded in North America and have had some international success, notably a Formula 1 win at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix with John Watson, success has thus far eluded them since arriving in Supercars two years ago as majority shareholders of Dick Johnson Racing.

McLaughlin had the honor of beating Coulthard to the first win in race one of the weekend, before Coulthard doubled up with wins in races two and three. The first two races were one-two finishes, though, and McLaughlin said he’d received a text from Roger Penske in the wake of the victory.

“I got a text from Roger straight away and they’re all pretty happy,” McLaughlin told Supercars.com.

“They’re thanking me but I should be thanking them for giving me the opportunity.”

The first race was marred by this incident between Nick Percat and Lee Holdsworth, Percat having lost his brakes entering Turn 1 and crashing into Holdsworth, who was an innocent bystander.

But once the race resumed, McLaughlin held off Coulthard for the victory.

Coulthard led from start-to-finish in race two after his second straight pole position. He did the same in race three, albeit not in a Penske 1-2 as Jamie Whincup came second for Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore. McLaughlin was third.

A left-front puncture stopped Coulthard making it three in a row in the fourth race, and with steering damage, McLaughlin was resigned to 17th. Chaz Mostert took the win his Supercheap Ford, ending his own winless spell that dated to August of 2015.

Also of note from the weekend, ex-IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro in her Team Harvey Norman Nissan Altima finished 13th in race one, her best finish yet in her first full season in the series.

The Supercars series is back in action at Symmons Plains Raceway on April 7-9.  Coulthard sits second in the series championship, 51 points back of Whincup’s teammate, Shane van Gisbergen.