• Dixon joins ranks of IndyCar legends

    Scott Dixon scored his first win of the 2016 IndyCar during the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix, Arizona, on April 3. AFP PHOTO

    Scott Dixon scored his first win of the 2016 IndyCar during the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix, Arizona, on April 3. AFP PHOTO

    Scott Dixon’s victory at the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix on April 3 tied him with four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser for fourth place on IndyCar’s all-time wins list with 39 checkered flags.

    Dixon, who hails from New Zealand, also set an IndyCar record by earning at least one win for the 12th consecutive season. He is also a four-time series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner.

    Coupled with his come-from-behind victory to capture the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship last August in Sonoma, California, the Phoenix win helped move Dixon into a very exclusive club made up of among the best the sport has ever seen.

    On April 13 at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Dixon rightfully joined the sport’s greatest drivers for an evening of “IndyCar Legends.” There, he shared the stage with Unser, Michael Andretti (third all-time with 42 wins) and his father, Mario Andretti (second all-time, 52 wins), for a spirited question-and-answer session streamed live on IndyCar.com.

    AJ Foyt, still the winningest driver in IndyCar history with 67 victories, was not able to attend because of illness, but was shown in an interview recorded earlier this week.

    “This is truly a special group,” said Leigh Diffey, emcee and NBCSN lead announcer for Verizon IndyCar Series telecasts.

    Never one to brag of his success, Dixon seemed a bit embarrassed to share the stage with the best the sport has ever known.

    “I feel very privileged and lucky to race cars, but to be with this group is so much fun,” Dixon said. “My stories are a little different than theirs and, yeah, it’s a bit daunting, but it’s very special and something I embrace.”

    At a relatively young age of 35, Dixon has the opportunity to extend his legacy and even move up further on the all-time wins list.

    Both Mario Andretti and Foyt paid high praise for Dixon.

    “These dudes [like Dixon]are really quite young yet,” said Mario, a four-time IndyCar season champion and winner of the 1969 Indianapolis 500. “I think many more records will fall.”

    Foyt, a seven-time champion and the first driver to win four Indy 500s, said of Dixon, “I respect him and have been watching him since he came over to race for Chip Ganassi. He’s a great race driver and very smart. He kind of stands out over the other ones.”

    Dixon returned the compliment to Foyt.

    “It was really cool when we won in Phoenix and to be presented the AJ Foyt Trophy with AJ right there,” Dixon said.

    Mario Andretti reaped additional praise on Dixon when asked how the New Zealand native would have fared racing in his era along with Foyt and Unser.

    “The same, no question about it,” Mario said of Dixon. “I always said champions of yesterday would be champions of today and vice-versa. I think there’s something very special about individuals that can achieve that level. The quality is the same.” THE TIMES


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