We find ourselves in two intense championship battles, one of which will be decided this weekend at Mid-Ohio. That's the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates arm of Chip's operation, as we tackle the Grand Am Rolex Series.
We only have to finish 15th or 16th in the Daytona Prototype class and since I understand there are only going to be nine or 10 DP cars there, I guess that means we're getting close. However, in order to achieve the drivers' championship for both Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, both drivers need to finish having had a minimum of 30 minutes of green-flag time or a little over an hour total time.
Equally important for us is the engine manufacturers' championship, and our BMW partners are two points in arrears of Chevrolet, a tough adversary. So, our guys need to win. If we could get the title trifecta, we could define that as being a totally successful season.
Given my weekend role with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series team and the way this season has gone so far as it's headed into the final three rounds, you'll understand the focus on that. However, before we get to the Dario vs. Will Power championship battle, let's talk about Scott Dixon. In a story in the latest issue of RACER magazine, I'm quoted as saying, “Short of being hit by a meteorite, I think we've seen it all this year.…” but I was wrong! At Baltimore there was a log-jam down at the hairpin, and Scott managed to get both rear tires punctured by two cars behind running into him. Unbelievable!
In the timing stand, we knew he'd come to a halt but didn't know what kind of damage he had. You know they have this rule about entering a closed pit, meaning you have to come back in and do a full pit stop when the pit's actually open. (By the way, who knew it was going to take them 20 minutes to open the pits?) But when Scott said on the radio, “Hey, I have two flat tires here,” we said, “Well, maybe you should come and join us here and we'll see what we can do for you.” By the time he crawled around to pit lane, they had the replay of the incident on TV. Well, that wasn't a meteorite – that was a minefield!
What's fascinating about this is that, because we had no history at Baltimore, we'd based our race plan on the recent history of the Honda Indy at Toronto. In Toronto this year, there were 32 laps of yellow out of an 85-lap race. Now, going into Baltimore, looking at the racetrack and looking at the incidents that had occurred in the sessions through the weekend, we were convinced we'd have over 20 laps of yellow in the 75-lap race. Had there not been…well, I don't know what to call it – the yellow they had where we followed the pace car for eternity – there would have been possibly less than 10 total laps of yellow in Baltimore. Nobody would have predicted that before the race began.
Scott and I were talking about this a few days later. He'll normally crush you if he thinks you've screwed up the strategy, but this time he said, “You know, we had the right strategy, we just didn't have any yellows at the front end of the race!” What we did with him – qualifying in 10th and being very street-race processional at best in 10th place – because the fuel windows were so large, we opted to come in early hoping there would be a yellow in the first segment, which would jump us closer to the front. Still, I don't think we'll complain about fifth place: We finished with a whole car, and finished five positions in front of where we qualified. The yellows didn't fall our way with the strategy, but it was fairly satisfactory considering everything that happened around us.
Scott's shunt on the Friday obviously gave us more work, but it did not dent his bravery the next day, did it? He was throwing that car around in his very next session. But that's Scott Dixon. He is truly a driver who has that ability to first of all, Etch-a-Sketch what happened to him prior and work to achieve the most he can every moment he's in the car. That's just the nature of who he is, which is really good.
I was watching the Golf channel Tuesday night, and saw one of the best sports interview programs on television, the David Feherty program, and he was interviewing Greg Norman. He asked him, “What was it like to be No. 1 in the world?” I think there's a fair comparison to race drivers because I think a lot of them concentrate so much on being No. 1 that they never get there. What Norman said was, “I didn't work to be No. 1. I worked to be the best every day.” And that's Scott Dixon, right there. He works hard to be the best every day. He doesn't always get there, but at the end of the day he knows he gave everything he could along with the guys around him. That represents us as well as who he is. I think it's a very clear parallel. Otherwise, it would be paralyzing.