We caught up with two-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon last week before he took to the road course at Mid-Ohio. Before our interview, Dixon hadn't won a race in 2011.
On Sunday, Dixon won from the pole, passing his teammate -- and points leader -- Dario Franchitti for the win after the final restart. Coincidence that Dixon found success right after we talked to him?
Rough driving has been a hot topic in the IndyCar Series this year. Why have we seen so much aggression on the road courses this year? Is it because the cars are so evenly matched?
Yeah, absolutely, I think you said it. The competition has just gotten so tight, the field is much deeper, you don't have attrition you see as far as cars mechanically having problems. The teams are trying more drastic things...
It's purely just the competition and that thing sort of trickles down because if you have a bad start to the season you start to drive a little more aggressive and then you get yourself into more altercations.
I think it's good for the sport in the fact that people are tuning in and watching it and wanting to hear about it. People are aggressive and you can see the competitiveness of the drivers when they get out of the cars and keep calling other drivers names and things like that. So I think there is a positive side to it because it's all about the competition and how stiff it is right now.
At Edmonton, we saw the drivers who initiated contact receive drive-through penalties. Is a drive-through a fair penalty, especially if the driver who was contacted is forced to retire from the race?
Well, I think in some circumstances it is. It needs to be somewhat of a sliding scale for the severity of the accident. It's almost like there needs to be a five step program maybe or something to define how bad you've been.
In my circumstance, I get taken out of the race by EJ (Viso) and my radiator is broken apart and I have to come in and we lose six laps. While, you know, he finishes a lap ahead or the same lap down and five or so spots ahead of me. To me, that's not kind of fair to be honest.
I think there are ways, maybe at the start of the following weekend you need to take tires away because tires are very critical to how your weekend plans out and how you practice. Or the other way is to take points away. Nobody wants to see points taken away, that could be something they do later on.
Do you think if the aggressive driving continues (Danica Patrick hit Graham Rahal on Sunday and wasn't penalized, leading Rahal to call it the "Danica Racing League") we'll see penalties like the loss of points and tires?
I think yeah, if you're a re-offender it needs to be knocked on the head. And it's not just the driver that's going to get annoyed by losing points or tires, the team is going to be like 'You're going to have to sit yourself out because we don't have tires to do this practice session' or you've gone from 8th in the championship to 14th because you've gotten 20 points taken off you.
There's lots of different things, but it's not always going to be on the driver if it's a recurring problem.
There are reports of Danica Patrick moving to NASCAR in 2012. How optimistic are you of the health of the IndyCar Series moving forward and especially now that the main television parter, Versus, will be rebranded and become NBC Sports, potentially helping with exposure?
For me, I think the IndyCar Series is great to be a part of at the moment. Even as a driver, I think you kind of first hand see the changes. I will say straight-up that we're at the start of a really really long road and I hope I'm here to see a lot more changes and see the series grow.
I think it's a fantastic formula and has many great stories and I think it's great to watch -- there's so many positives to it. Great tracks around the world and not just in North America. But I think there's a lot to be done. But for me at this point, it's great to be a part of because you see so many changes and you're helping it grow. I think the split in 95 or 96, whenever that was, was a huge disappointment and hurt the series at a point where NASCAR capitalized on it.
We've got a long ways to go. I'm excited about it, the changes, and the growth but it's not going to be an easy road. There's a lot of hard work for a lot of people.
If you could pick five non-IndyCar drivers to compete for the $5 million bonus -- prior obligations notwithstanding -- who would you pick?
That's a tough one because they're the ones you can't really get because of schedules. That's the issue with the race in Vegas... obviously you'd pick like Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Lewis Hamilton, you know or an Alonso out of Formula One. You'd want someone out of the World Rally Series. There's a long list of drivers that you'd love to get, but contractually for a lot of people, it's not an easy thing to get out and do, so it's one of those tough deals.
It's a tough deal and I think it also takes a little bit away from the championship and who's actually racing in the series and the drive to the championship and it takes away the spotlight on what we actually do and what we try to achieve through the year.
So I think it's a great concept, for me, I'm not sure it's the right place and right time for it.
Would you like to see it somewhere in the middle of the season, like the Texas doubleheader?
Yeah, I think that's a perfect situation for it. Have the lucky draw thing that we had at Texas -- for money only -- no points for the championship because it takes away from the credibility of what we do as far as racing for a championship. This year I think it was a bit silly even though it worked out fairly decent for us.
But yeah, that'd be a perfect time to do it. Straight after Indy. Again, it's hard to get the names you want to get because schedule-wise, you need to pick it for the right part for a lot of people and their series as well.
A From the Marbles Trademark: If you had to pick one driver to drive your getaway car, who would it be and why?
I've seen some pretty crazy videos of Ken Block on YouTube and I think you'd need a rally car. You'd need someone who's completely insane.
For what we do, our stuff is very precise, we don't slide the cars much. But my getaway guy, Ken Block or some kind of rally driver that's in any situation and could try to get out of it would be my ideal.