IndyCar: Where’s the best place for Scott Dixon to wind up after this season?

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In a business where you’re not supposed to play favorites, it’s hard not to do so with Scott Dixon.

He’s one of the friendliest drivers on the IndyCar circuit. Plus, as an old school kinda guy myself, I can so relate to Dixon. Even though he just turned 38 years old on July 22, he’s an old school racer with old school personality, charm and demeanor.

I’ve often said he was born a couple of decades too late.

He may not be as fiery as, say, A.J. Foyt was. And he may not be quite as charismatic as, say, Mario Andretti is, but if Dixon, Foyt and Andretti all raced in the same era, I would bet Dixon would have taken away some of the 67 wins Foyt and 52 wins Andretti both ultimately earned – and maybe at least a few of their championships – in their nearly respective four decades of racing.

So, now, with four races remaining on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, and Dixon in the final year of a three-year deal of racing for Chip Ganassi – for whom he has been employed since 2002 – arguably the biggest question facing Dixon is what does his future hold, particularly his racing future?

As it stands now, he’s essentially faced with four different options going forward:

  1. He re-ups and re-signs to stay for another three or more years with Chip Ganassi Racing – and potentially for the rest of his racing career.
  2. Per rumors, he leaves IndyCar and moves to Formula 1, joining longtime friend Zak Brown and drives for struggling McLaren, becoming teammates with Fernando Alonso.
  3. Much like Juan Pablo Montoya did after his foray into NASCAR, Dixon leaves CGR and joins Team Penske as a fourth IndyCar driver.
  4. Per another rumor, he may leave IndyCar entirely, forego F1 and follow in Montoya’s and Helio Castroneves’ footsteps by racing full-time in IMSA (and most likely doing so for Ganassi), if he chooses to do so.

If we break down each of those four scenarios, several things become fairly obvious.

Let’s look at Option No. 1: Why in the world would Dixon, with 44 IndyCar wins to date, walk away from the sport when he’s nine wins from surpassing Mario Andretti for second on the IndyCar all-time wins list?

Extrapolate that a bit further and at the age of 38, if he averages three-plus wins per season over the next 7 seasons, he could be within striking distance of becoming the all-time winningest driver ever in the sport (breaking A.J. Foyt’s record of 67 wins).

Consider this: Since 2013, Dixon has 15 wins, which is just over one-third of his total career IndyCar wins, and has also averaged just under three wins per season.

But at the same time, he has three wins in 2018 – and the potential to earn a few more with four races remaining.

Let’s face it, if you were so close to overtaking Andretti and potentially could close in on Foyt’s mark, why in the world would you want to leave IndyCar?

Here’s another number that’s even more important to consider: Dixon has four IndyCar championships, and is on track to potentially winning No. 5 this season. If he wins this year – which would be his second title in the last four years – and can win two more titles in the next several years – he’d tie Foyt for the most IndyCar championships (7).

In fact, Dixon likely has a better chance of becoming the all-time championship winner in IndyCar annals, overtaking Foyt, than he does of surpassing Foyt’s total wins.

Would you walk away from that, especially if you were to win championship No. 5 in 2018?

As for Option No. 2, this is the most unlikely scenario in my opinion. Again, look at what Dixon has achieved during his nearly 18-year IndyCar career. Why, if you’re so close to even greater infamy, would you walk away to not only go racing in a different league, but have to put up with more races, significantly more global travel, FAR more politics and negativity and a racing series that has been declining in interest and notoriety over the last few years – while at the same time IndyCar has been growing?

And even though Alonso, Brown and McLaren could promise Dixon the moon financially and performance-wise, there’s one very important question Dixon must ask himself: If McLaren has struggled up to this point with Brown and Alonso, etc., what guarantee is there that the entire organization would do a complete 180 with Dixon as its premier driver and be able to go head-to-head with the likes of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas?

Does Dixon really want to take that big of a chance? If anything, I’d say there’s a MUCH better chance of Alonso coming to IndyCar to race with Dixon (potentially as part of CGR) than vice-versa with McLaren.

Speaking of Alonso to IndyCar, it’s looking less likely that McLaren will also come to IndyCar in 2019 and will focus all of its efforts on F1 next season. There’s still a chance McLaren may come to IndyCar in 2020 or beyond, but it’s not likely for 2019.

As for Option No. 3: I’d have a lot more faith in Dixon going to another IndyCar team than going to F1. But that also means he’d have to betray Ganassi to race for his biggest team owner arch-rival, Roger Penske.

Do you really think Dixon, who owes pretty much all of his racing career, his success and his wealth to Ganassi, would turn around and betray his boss and best friend? Plus, unless Penske were handed a check for, say, $20 million or more by a sponsor that wants Dixon’s services, it’s very unlikely Team Penske would be willing to go back to four teams just one season after cutting back to three teams and sending Helio Castroneves to race sports cars in IMSA.

Furthermore, if there is a sponsor that would be willing to drop $20-plus million on Dixon, why didn’t they step forward when Target exited after its long affiliation with CGR after the 2016 season?

And then there’s Option No. 4: Dixon has enjoyed both success and time behind the wheel of a sports car during a number of one-offs, primarily for Ganassi’s IMSA camp such as in the Rolex 24 Hours.

He can readily see how Montoya and Castroneves have taken to their new racing series – even been rejuvenated – and are climbing forward in the second half of the season after a difficult first half in Acura Team Penske’s debut season in IMSA.

If Dixon were to go anywhere other than IndyCar, IMSA would be arguably the most likely second choice, as long as it would still be with Ganassi.

Add all the options up and really, there’s only one option that makes the most sense for the Auckland, New Zealand native: stay where he is and don’t go anywhere else.

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Jett Lawrence wins Pro Motocross opener, remains perfect at Fox Raceway; Hunter wins in 250s


PALA, California – In his 450 bike debut, Jett Lawrence scored a perfect round at Fox Raceway in Pala, California to win Pro Motocross Round 1. He posted the fastest time in both qualification sessions, won the holeshot in both motos, and scored a pair of wins to take the overall victory and the early points’ lead.

Chase Sexton stalked Jett Lawrence throughout Moto 2, but could not find his way past. – Align Media

No one seriously questioned Lawrence’s opportunity to make noise in the 450 class. Few would have been surprised to see him podium in his Pro Motocross National, but Lawrence outperformed all expectations by dominating Moto 1. He entered the weekend with zero points and his eye on 20th in the standings so he would receive an automatic invitation to the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX).

He well surpassed expectations.

“It’s awesome,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Jason Thomas. “I can finally smile. I’ve been trying to stay serious and not get too excited with emotions coming up – and now I can finally let loose. The second one was a little harder, I couldn’t hear him but I’d look back and I’d still see the red bike. It was like a chess match.”

By the end of the race, Lawrence made up 30 percent of the points he needed to claim 20th and served notice that he will be one of the favorites to win the championship. He closed the gap even further in Moto 2, but the two races had entirely different storylines.

While Lawrence was able to run away from the field in the first race and win with a 10-second advantage, Honda teammate and defending Monster Energy Supercross champion Chase Sexton pressured him for the entire 30 minutes plus two laps that made up Moto 2.

Lawrence is the 16th rider to win in his first Pro Motocross race, the 10th to do so in an opener and second youngest, (behind Rick Johnson, 17 when he won at Hangtown in 1982).

Sexton was within two seconds of Lawrence for the entire moto. He rode a patient race with the realistic expectation that the 450 rookie Lawrence might make a mistake. Lawrence bounced from rut to rut in this race, but would not be forced into losing his focus.

“Toward the finish line area I had some decent lines, I thought maybe, if I could get close enough, I could make a move,” Sexton said. “I tried my hardest; I got close. I made a bit of an attempt with maybe 10 minutes to go and messed up. Jett was obviously riding really good. We were pushing the pace and it was a fun moto. It felt a little like last year.”

With his 1-1 finish and the overall victory, Lawrence remains perfect at Fox Raceway after sweeping Victory Lane in five rounds his 250 career.

Dylan Ferrandis returned to the track after suffering a concussion in the Supercross season in Round 4 in Houston. He attempted to return for the Daytona Supercross race, but another hard crash on Media Day set him on the sideline.

“Earlier this week I was pretty far from a podium position, so got together with the team and we made it happen,” Ferrandis said. “It was very hard. [Aaron Plessinger] was pushing me and I had to dig very deep.”

RESULTS: How they finished in the 450 Overall at Fox Raceway

In a pre-race news conference, he indicated that the best course of action was to get up to speed before he fully sent his bike into the turns. But adrenalin is a wonderful factor and once he got into the pace of the race, he held off charges from Cooper Webb in Moto 1 and Plessinger in Moto 2. Ferrandis’ 3-3 finishes in the two races earned 40 points and puts him back in the conversation to be among the top 20 in the combined SuperMotocross standings.

Plessinger and Webb each ended the day with 34 points. Plessinger won the tiebreaker for fifth overall in the standings. But it was an adventurous afternoon for Plessinger who had to overcome a pair of falls in the first Moto to finish fifth.

Round 1 of the Pro Motocross season marked the return of Webb after he suffered a Supercross series ending concussion in a heat race at Nashville.

“This was a last minute decision,” Webb said. “I sat out last summer and I didn’t want to do that again. Once I got cleared from the doctor, it was game on.”

The battle between Lawrence and Sexton gave Honda a 1-2 finish in this race for the second straight year, but perhaps most importantly, it provided a glimpse of what can be expected during the opening rounds.

I think there is more to come from Chase,” Lawrence said. “He had that crash in practice so it rung his head a bit, but I know it’s going to be a war in the outdoor season. I know there’s going to be times when I’m behind Chase and can’t get around him. It’s going to be an awesome season and I can’t wait to race my teammate.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Jett wasn’t the only Lawrence to win Fox Raceway Motocross. Hunter’s win in the 250 class marked the first time in history that brothers won a Motocross National on the same day.

The reigning 250 East Supercross champion scored the overall victory with a third in Moto 1 and a victory in Moto 2. A poor start in the first race forced Lawrence to mount a charge from behind. Riding with discomfort, Lawrence was out of his rhythm early. A spirited battle with Jo Shimoda and Justin Cooper for third through fifth forced him to push through the pain of an injury suffered at the start of the week.

“The start was crucial,” Lawrence said. “I had a massive crash Monday and could barely ride press day for three laps, I was in so much pain. This one goes out to Dr. [Rey Gubernick]. He has magic hands.”

Lawrence’s strong start to Moto 2 put him in a better zone and he pulled an eight-second advantage over the second-place rider.

Haiden Deegan got a taste of the Motocross series last year, but that was all it was: a nibble.

Deegan failed to crack the top 10 in either of two starts and had some questions for himself before the race began. Deegan did not believe there were high expectations placed on him for this race, which is precisely how he described his first Supercross attempt. In that inaugural SX race, he finished fourth and was as surprised as anyone in the field.

Again: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Deegan surprised himself again by finishing second in only his third Motocross National. He finished sixth in Moto 1 and second in Moto 2, giving him a second-place finish overall.

“I’m actually a little surprised,” Deegan said. “A lot of people said I wouldn’t even be close to this. I guess we’re proving people wrong and that’s what we’ve got to do Second place in my first full season. I’m hyped.”

Deegan is closing in on his first 250 win.

Click here for 250 overall results

RJ Hampshire had to overcome a pair of falls in Moto 2 to score the final podium position in the overall standings. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire made a statement in Moto 1. An entirely new discipline allowed Hampshire to grab an early advantage. But then a poor start to Moto 2 provided an entirely different challenge. Two falls on Lap 1 dropped Hampshire to 39th in the running order.

“I didn’t have a great start and got mayhem in that second corner and went down,” Hampshire said. “Picked [myself] up in last and made some really good passes and then going uphill on the [backstretch], someone got out of whack – took me out and I was dead last again. I didn’t really know if I had a shot at the podium, but I was digging really deep.”

It took half of the race to get back into the points in 20th, but Hampshire kept digging. Passing riders one at a time, he climbed to 11th in Moto 2 and salvaged enough points to give him the third position overall.

Maximus Vohland made a statement of his own by holding off a determined Lawrence on the last two laps. Lawrence was able to pressure Vohland when they were slowed by a lapped rider who fell in front of the battle.

Tom Vialle was in a position to take the final overall podium spot with a solid third-place finish in the second moto. He did everything he could, but Hampshire’s determined charge from the back of the pack was capped off with a two-position advance on the final lap to slide onto the final step of the box.

2023 Supercross Race Recaps

Salt Lake City: Chase Sexton ends the season with win
Denver: Chase Sexton wins, takes points’ lead with Eli Tomac injury
Nashville: Chase Sexton keeps hope alive; Cooper Webb out
New Jersey: Justin Barcia wins muddy race; first in two years
Atlanta: Chase Sexton is back in the championship picture
Glendale: Eli Tomac wins 51st, breaks tie with James Stewart
Seattle: Eli Tomac wins and ties Webb for first
Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Cooper Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Eli Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Eli Tomac wins opener for the first time

More SuperMotocross coverage

Record Supercross attendance reported in 2023
450 Champion Chase Sexton takes back what he gave away
250 West Supercross champion Jett Lawrence ends dream career
250 East Supercross champion Hunter Lawrence overcomes doubt and injury
Cooper Webb returns to action at Pala
Caden Braswell joins Troy Lee Design
SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Supercross finale