Dixon: “I don’t think anybody had a stellar season”


The checkered flag fell Sunday afternoon at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, but that wasn’t the end of the drama in the Verizon IndyCar Series finale.

Juan Pablo Montoya’s now infamous “Dixon had a s*** season all year and had one good race, and we paid the penalty” quote in the post-race press conference has immediately generated headlines, and stirred up controversy.

While newly crowned four-time champion Scott Dixon didn’t directly address that quote in his own press conference at Sonoma, he did do so on Wednesday morning, and also later on NBCSN’s NASCAR AMERICA (video above).

“Obviously Juan’s gonna be very frustrated. He led the championship from the first race at St. Pete,” Dixon said.

“But to be honest, I don’t think anybody had a stellar season. Six drivers had won two races each. We ended up winning three, yes we won the most races, but it’s obviously hard for him to swallow. You’re gonna find different ways to look at it and beat it up. Double points is a hot topic.”

Without double points, Montoya would have beat Dixon, 478 to 474.

Asked about double points, Dixon said it will be something INDYCAR will need to consider in the offseason, but that all competitors knew the rules going into the season.

“You know going into the season that’s what it’s going to be. Those are the stats. Double points for the Indy 500, which is the biggest race in the world, and in the finale,” he said.

“The Verizon IndyCar Series … the competition is so tight that for 10 years in a row it’s gone down to the last race without a reset.

“I think without the double points, it wouldn’t have been close. We missed 33 bonus points for getting the Indy 500 pole this year. That gets overlooked.

“Everyone knew what it was going to be. But it is going to be a hot topic this offseason.”

In truth, while double points may be the talking point, Dixon and Montoya were actually very, very close to each other all year – neither driver assembled a so-called synonym for poor season.

Here’s some stats of note, beyond Dixon’s 3-2 win advantage that ultimately won him the title:

  • Dixon led Montoya in qualifying average for all 16 races, 6.125 to 6.4375, although Montoya held an 11-5 head-to-head mark in starting positions.
  • Dixon led more than double the amount of laps as Montoya, 306 to 145. Dixon led 10 races, Montoya led only 8.
  • The two were nearly even in better finishing positions, with Montoya ahead 9-7 overall and 8-6 in races where both drivers finished. The one DNF Montoya had though, at Iowa, Dixon’s crew rallied to get him an 18th place result instead of 19th, and one crucial, additional point that paid dividends down the road.
  • Dixon was the top qualifying driver at Chip Ganassi Racing nine times, while Montoya was the top qualifying driver at Team Penske only once. Dixon was also highest starting Ganassi driver at Detroit race two, and Montoya had the pole for both NOLA and Detroit race two, as both races started on points following rain canceling the sessions.
  • Dixon was the top finishing Ganassi driver seven times, and Montoya was the top finishing Penske driver six times.

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”