Scott Dixon’s balancing family, driver roles helps make him great

Getty Images
0 Comments

The accolades that immediately roll off the tongue when you mention Scott Dixon’s name are his racing accomplishments: 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner, four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion, and fourth all-time on the Indy car win list with 40, trailing only A.J. Foyt (67), Mario Andretti (52) and Michael Andretti (42).

So what’s the accolade you don’t necessarily put alongside it, but you should? His dedication and devotion as a family man, in the dual role of husband to wife Emma and full-time dad to daughters Poppy and Tilly. He and Emma celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary today.

The Dixons, who have made Indianapolis their permanent residence in recent years but also spent a fair bit of time of St. Petersburg helping the Wheldon family, are, if not renowned as the first family of the current IndyCar grid, they’re close.

Talking about family, rather than racing, doesn’t come easily to Dixon – who as typically as he gets on with the job behind the wheel, also does so at home. He does this as he prepares for his 17th season in IndyCar, 16th with Chip Ganassi Racing and for the first time, without Target sponsorship.

“I feel very lucky with my job, but also the time we get with family,” Dixon told NBC Sports. “We have extremely long offseasons.

“So by their nature, that gives you that time to be, for me, a dad … I can fully be there to take the kids to school, maybe crash their lunches, or take them to gymnastics or tennis. A lot of people don’t get that opportunity.”

Dixon’s schedule isn’t usually as travel heavy for work purposes over the IndyCar offseason as, for example, Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Charlie Kimball, who spends much of his time traveling the country and world for Novo Nordisk appearances.

The extent of Dixon’s offseason travel is usually for sports car races – he competes in one of Ganassi’s Ford GTs in the endurance races as third driver to his past IndyCar teammate Ryan Briscoe and sports car veteran Richard Westbrook.

“Both Emma and I travel a lot but we also get time to be with the kids, because having a normal job can be from 8 to 5. Others have it even worse… if you’re a doctor, nurse or whatever, the hours are extremely long,” Dixon said.

He puts his full focus on his day job first, but he’s never let that impede on the duties at home.

“For me, I love racing… I love the challenge of it, and that’s important,” he said. “But there’s family and then racing. The other promotional stuff, media requirements, things like that, are probably the harder part for me. Talking about the racing is easier.”

One of the races he was talking about this offseason was the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, a race Dixon has gotten more interested over the years to go along with his interest growing up in watching the Australian Supercars classic, the Bathurst 1000 (now the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000).

“It’s kind of like their Indianapolis 500,” Dixon explained. “I watched the 1000 every year back in the days, going back to watching Peter Brock, Dick Johnson and those legends. I’ve been there twice maybe to watch the race? But I was only 14 or 15 at the time.

“That place has fascinated me. The track is so cool. A lot of the guys that are racing there now, I’ve competed against in the junior categories and now do most of the V8 races. It’s a national thing… all the mates I went to school with. It’d be watch Bathurst, have a BBQ, getting ready for watching. Hopefully one day there’s one day I can race there, man.”

If the opportunity arises, Dixon would jump at the chance to race at Bathurst, with the 12-hour as a “warm-up act” to any appearance in the 1000.

“Thinking about it, the whole idea would be to do the 12-hour before Supercars and the 1000. Timing-wise, it’s possible to do both, but contractually it might be harder. I’d love to do it though; I’ve put fingers out to try to see what the possibilities are.”

Mike Hull, Dixon’s longtime race strategist and managing director at Chip Ganassi Racing, also worked to explain what makes Dixon so good from the dual family/driver role.

“You never realize what’s in front of you while you have it,” Hull told NBC Sports. “When it’s Scott Dixon we’re talking about, if he’s not the best ever, he’s one of the best.

“People don’t realize what he’s done as a driver. When you think about the iterations of cars he’s raced. It’s not the same as the CART ones that changed, or the IRL ones that changed. He’s been continually winning in a different kind of IndyCar for 15 years. He doesn’t give up trying to understand himself better on a driver. He’s like a chameleon. He’s always trying to suit the car, driver and track… some drivers are so singularly focused in their driving style, and they have to step around their egos.

“But that’s why he’s won as many races as he has… 40 of them. Other guys have raced cars at a different time. Scott has been blessed with good teammates. What Scott does is work so hard, but so unselfishly with his teammates to make each other better.

“He’s worked so hard to achieve what he has unselfishly. You’ll get the most from him every day.”

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

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
0 Comments

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)