To his fans, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon is known as the “Iceman,” and with the Kiwi's exceptionally calm nature, the nickname has always been a perfect fit for his public persona. But as his out-of-character comments about IndyCar Race Director Beaux Barfield last weekend in Baltimore revealed, even Dixon has his limits.
He's long been the go-to guy for a straight answer among the IndyCar drivers, and to those who know him, the two-time IndyCar Series champion rarely takes a pass when asked to share his opinions, but Dixon isn't known for is airing his more critical views in public.
With the benefit of a few days to reflect on the race – one where he was crashed into by Team Penske's Will Power, the 2008 Indy 500 winner says he hopes the tension and aggression that stemmed from the event will pass when the series returns to action next month in Houston.
“I think everybody will cool off a little bit; everybody could pay a little bit more respect to each other out there, but it's close quarters and everybody is trying to go for a good finish, so you get a lot of [stuff] like you saw at Baltimore,” he told RACER. “And the fans love it. But altogether, I think it makes it hard for Race Control to keep everything contained and some of that can spill over.”
Dixon's anger toward Power appears to have softened since the race. Power told RACER he called Dixon to apologize Sunday night, but had to do so by voicemail. By Wednesday, Dixon was ready to reach out and bury the hatchet.
“I've got to call Will this afternoon; I tried to call him, but he was at an appearance so I told him I'd try again later when he was free,” Dixon added.
The 33-year-old wasn't pleased to read his own heated comments about Race Director Beaux Barfield when they were published this week, but says he takes ownership of a situation that could have been better served if it was handled in a calmer voice.
“The worst possible situation is to make comments right after a race when you're pi**ed,” Dixon explained. “It's when things get condensed, people say things, and I've obviously been a culprit myself. I've certainly said things I should have said differently after the emotions clear. I could have chosen better words and done a better job of saying what I felt in a more constructive manner.
“The problem I have with this is that I love the sport, I love IndyCar, I love my job and I don't want to do anything to hurt any of those things. I don't mind saying what I think, but I don't want to harm things, so that's the thing I'm not happy with myself about. The first thing that came to mind is that I don't want my wife or my kids to see something like that. That was a bad choice.”
The challenge Dixon faces is an interesting one. Some fans believe IndyCar drivers are little more than corporate shills – too boring and PC, but there can also be a price to pay for being overly bold. And as one of the few who are willing to speak his mind, Dixon's knows there are inherent risks that could result in fines, probation or whatever the series believes will correct errant behavior.
“That's the passion for the sport, the competitiveness that comes out, and I don't think it should be hushed,” he said. “You don't want everybody to be quiet. That's what everybody expects. Everybody expects our drivers to say nothing, but I'm not sure that's the right direction to take. In the days after (an event like Baltimore), you reflect and look at what you said and what you've done, and for me, I have my hot tempered moments, but I try not to take it into the next event. I try to learn from things and grow from a situation, but the answer also isn't to just close your mouth. It's a fine line.”
Based on Dixon's conciliatory tone throughout the conversation, it was obvious he'd welcome the chance to soften his quotes after the Baltimore race, but he won't be surprised if there are repercussions for what was said.
“I can understand if I do get penalized,” he conceded. “I just want to see consistency in the calls, and tempers were flared. At the end of the day, I believe in IndyCar, and I believe Derrick [Walker] will do a good job and handle things the right way, however he sees fit.”