Scott Dixon Settles into Sounding Board Role for Ganassi Indy 500 Effort

indianapolis, in during practice for the indianapolis 500 at the indianapolis motor speedway in indianapolis, indiana photo by chris jones ims photo
Dixon Takes on Elder Statesman Role for Indy 500Penske Entertainment/Chris Jones

Twenty-one years down the IndyCar road, Scott Dixon hasn’t forgotten the tension and excitement attached to a first-ever run in the Indianapolis 500.

It was 2003, seemingly a lifetime ago for the six-time series champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner.

“For me, what an experience, man, coming here for the first time,” Dixon said Friday. “I'd been a spectator the year before and watched it. To come here with a powerhouse like Ganassi (Chip Ganassi Racing) was very special.

“I think anytime the feeling is the same when you leave here--if you didn't win it, it's kind of a disappointment. What this place is and how it changes you is very, very special. Definitely nothing like the first time.”


Dixon qualified fourth for his first 500 but finished 17th after a crash during a caution period.

This year, Ganassi has three rookies—Marcus Armstrong, Linus Lundqvist and Kyffin Simpson—on the 500 entry list, and all three are using CGR veterans Dixon and Alex Palou as question-and-answer targets.

Advice from Dixon and Palou has been especially helpful with rain having cut into practice time this week.

“I think that's one of the best things for us rookies coming in is having Alex and Scott here where we don't really have to be at the forefront of trying to extract performance out of the car,” Lundqvist said. “We can kind of take a breath and try to get comfortable with traffic, with the ‘qualie’ sim running. It does take some of the pressure off, but it doesn't mean that it's easy.”

Little is easy about the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It sounds very generic, but it's very special (to have veterans around),” Armstrong said. “The amount of commitment that it requires to be quick around here is extremely different to every other place I've been to.

indianapolis, in during indianapolis 500 practice in indianapolis, indiana photo by james black ims photo
Rookie Marcus Armstrong admits he’s been in Scott Dixon’s ear quite a bit when it comes to the Indy 500.Penske Entertainment/James Black

“Frankly, I remember the first time I went to Macau. That place was initially quite daunting because it's tight and twisty. But frankly, after running around here, there's nothing else in the world that will challenge me to that same extent.

“I'm asking Alex and Scott a million questions. But ultimately I'm out there trying to experience it for myself, to understand the feeling and emotion that goes with it because that's what matters most. Every single lap I'm learning something. Unfortunately, the weather hasn't been great.”

Simpson said the professionalism and experience within the Ganassi team makes everything a bit easier and allows the rookie drivers to concentrate on their Indy education.

“I think being with such a strong team like Ganassi, you know that the car is going to be good, so you’re not worried about making sure the car’s good for the race or trying to work on setup. You can really just focus on learning everything you can every lap.”

Dixon said the Ganassi rookies have adjusted well.

“I think what these guys have been doing well is really just taking it all in, kind of not trying to rush the situation,” he said. “But I think that's where the team manages it well. We have a good kind of baseline and can work off that. There's no egos. Everybody conversates really well. The flow is really good.”

Qualifying is scheduled Saturday and Sunday at IMS. The race is May 26.