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.

Joe ft Mystikal - Stutterby yafs1925
  • 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.

 

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)