Opinion: What makes Scott Dixon so much more than a champion

MotorNews.co.nz

He’s tied Mario for championships, moved to within one victory of Al Unser on the all-time list and has a shot at A.J.’s unthinkable record of seven national titles.

Only 35, Scott Dixon is breathing some rarified air following his stunning rally Sunday at Sonoma to steal the 2015 Verizon IndyCar title from Juan Montoya.

And while it took an unforced error by JPM to open the door, Dixon did the rest by leading the most laps and putting on a bit of a driving clinic to capture his fourth IndyCar crown.

On a day where drivers struggled to keep tires under them, the clutch Kiwi looked like he was on a different track.

“His car wasn’t that great in practice or qualifying and when I woke up Sunday morning the last thing I was thinking is that he was going to be celebrating a championship tonight,” said Stefan Johansson on Monday afternoon from San Francisco. “Then in the race he finds the speed. He gets out in front, keeps the tires under him, saves fuel and is mega quick on top of it. I was like, where in %$@# did that come from?

“But, that’s why he’s so good.”

dixon Johansson

Johansson (with Dixon, RIGHT) can offer the best perspective of all since the ex-Formula 1 and CART regular hand-picked Dixon 18 years ago during a test at Sebring, Fla. for his Indy Lights team.

“I liked him straight away,” said the former Le Mans winner, who has managed Scott for 15 years. “Considering he was barely 17 years, his speed was amazing. His attitude was good, very confident but not in a cocky way, and he figured things out.

“You can tell when somebody is right on it and has something special.”

Since 2007, Dixon has reeled off 31 wins, three championships and the 2008 Indianapolis 500.

“More than anything, just to see his evolution, it’s so much fun to watch,” continued Johansson. “He gets better and better and better and doesn’t seem to stop. He finds a bit more every year. If he stays in shape and motivated, it’s scary to think what he might accomplish. He’s already one of the best ever.”

And the measure of his greatness extends outside the cockpit. Not sure any of our heroes from days gone bye or many of today’s drivers could or would be able to match Dixon’s compassion for his fellow racer.

Four years ago, after Dan Wheldon’s death at Las Vegas, the kind Kiwi basically moved his family to St. Petersburg for two months to help Susie Wheldon and her two sons try to cope with the devastation.

A week ago, Dixon got out of his racecar and drove from Pocono to the hospital in Allentown, Pa. where he camped out for the next three days to try and comfort Justin Wilson’s family. Like Wheldon, the Wilsons are parents of two and Emma Dixon and Julia Wilson are best friends and bonded over their little girls.

“He’s the only guy at the hospital with Justin but doesn’t tweet about it or make a big fuss, he just does it quietly,” continued Johansson. “And what he did with Dan’s family is just incredible.”

For most drivers, that would be much tougher than Turn 1 at IMS or 500 miles at the Tricky Triangle.

“That’s just him – Dixie is a special person,” said Dario Franchitti of his former teammate and longtime friend. “He didn’t want it publicized but he spent a lot of time with Julia and Justin’s family.

“He’s a helluva race driver but he’s also a helluva person.

He’s tied Mario for championships, moved to within one victory of Al Unser on the all-time list and has a shot at A.J.’s unthinkable record of seven national titles.

By Robin Miller, racer.com

Opinion: What makes Scott Dixon so much more than a champion

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