The Texas race could have brought us another win; we led the most laps by far, but a crash ended that dream. But the important thing for the IZOD IndyCar series as a whole was that we had an oval race that put the drivers' destinies back in their hands. The only disappointing thing is that it took us so long to find this solution.
We had been complaining about it for years and this time the drivers requested it and IndyCar agreed to it. Some of the drivers were bitching about it, but of course they were: they were the ones struggling the most. The fact is, you're supposed to drive an IndyCar: it's not meant to be easy while also being faster and more dangerous! To me, the race at Texas was 10 times safer and 10 times more exciting. Even though I crashed and had a bad night, I still went away thinking, “Man, that was a good race that showed off the talents of the driver to not only drive his car but also tune it and adapt it at 200mph.”
The cars were so loose by the end of a stint – and loose was fast throughout the stint, so I felt that was the way to go. As a result, I honestly think I only turned left three times the whole night (LOL!). The rest of the time was spent gassing it and catching it.
Mike Hull was on my radio saying, “What's it like?” and I'm saying, “It's loose and getting looser.” About two laps before I spun, I decided I needed tires, and Mike said, “You need to do another 10 laps to keep with the fuel strategy.” I thought, “No freakin' way can I do 10 more laps!” Then I got carved up by a backmarker while I was lapping him in Turn 2, and I had to check up a lot and had a big moment, and that allowed Will Power to get past me. Then I started chasing him and going into Turn 3, the cars ahead checked up a bit, I got on the brakes just as I was turning in and that was enough to get the rear sideways.
I thought I'd saved it, but the front wheels went onto the apron and at that point the car spun and we backed into the outside wall. With the weight distribution being so rearward in the DW12, you can catch most stuff at seven or eight degrees of yaw, but past that, nine times out of ten, it's going to keep on spinning.
I was mad at myself, but man, it was a great race and if we can keep this balance and formula, I'd love to go to more than five ovals in a season. They're an important part of IndyCar's heritage and now they've become dependent on driver talent once again, I love them. But there needs to be some compromising by the venues when we have issues with the fences and other safety stuff. If we can find promoters that are willing to work with us, I don't see there's any downside to going back to ovals now that the racing is better and safer. But I think there are still key safety areas that need to be fixed and people shouldn't try to sweep those under the carpet.
Now we have a couple of short ovals coming up, and in testing at Milwaukee it was very slippery and I think the downforce package and the tires we have here this weekend should help create a good race for the fans. One of the cool things about the Texas race was that you had drivers stopping not because they were almost running out of fuel, but because they simply needed fresh tires. In the Milwaukee test the teams that were doing long runs had quite a major drop-off in times between the start and the end of a stint, so as long as the track doesn't get too rubbered and slows that process down, I think we should have another really good race.
Iowa is a very different short oval: it's banked and with this car producing more than 5000lbs of downforce compared with the old car's 4400lbs, I think it will be too easy to drive. Without the bump on the exit of Turn 2, it would be flat all the way around, so next year I think we should go back there with speedway wings instead, so that even in qualifying you're having to lift off the gas, and you're actually driving it. Like I say, this job shouldn't be easy and I'll stand by that viewpoint even if we win the Iowa race!
Here's hoping. Thanks for reading.
• You can follow Scott on Twitter at @ScottDixon9 and Target Chip Ganassi Racing at @TCGRteams