Scott Dixon admits that he’s still adapting to the off-season changes at Chip Ganassi Racing, which downsized from four cars to two and hired Ed Jones to replace departing veteran Tony Kanaan during the winter.
The reduced car count translates to less data to draw upon during a race weekend, which Dixon concedes is a relative disadvantage, although he said that loss is offset by gains in other areas. But the four-time champion believes that the contrast between the personalities of his new teammate and his previous ones has been almost as jarring.
“It’s been an interesting off-season to say the least, downsizing from four cars to two, to having a very loud teammate like TK across the other side of the engineering table, to Ed, who’s very quiet, pretty laid-back. If he was any more laid-back, I think he would fall over,” Dixon said.
“It’s definitely a different vibe. It’s a change in environment. I think it’s been good for him and myself to get up to speed with a new teammate, to have it on a one-on-one situation. I miss the group of four. I miss my teammates from last year. But Ed has been a great addition, and we’ve already seen some good results from him, and look forward to seeing some more come through to the end of the season.”
Stylistically, the loss of an animated character like Kanaan has also forced a change in working style inside the team.
“As I mentioned, it’s very quiet in the engineering office now, so I would see that as a positive,” Dixon continued. “But I also miss the noises of TK and the faces and him taking the mickey out of everybody the whole time.
“There’s pros and cons on both sides. The information flows a little bit quicker [now], but there’s only two cars. The disadvantage is, I really enjoyed looking through three other car sets of information throughout a weekend. There was a lot of stuff to consume, and every driver does… whether good or bad, they do something a little bit different that you can try and hone in on, which I think helps.”
With Jones still very much in his settling-in phase at Ganassi, Dixon said it will take time for the pair to find a rhythm in working together. His benchmark is the relationship he developed with Dario Franchitti, with whom he was partnered at Ganassi for six years.
“The first part of the season is always a little bit tough,” Dixon said. “You’re trying to find patterns. I think the best home for our team, at least for the pattern side of it, was Dario and myself. I’d say right now we’re kind of on the early stages. Ed is coming from a team that had very different setups, and he’s trying to work through that himself. I think he’s had good feedback. But yeah, just very early stages.”
Dixon and Jones go into this weekend’s race at Barber sitting sixth and ninth respectively in the points, with Jones having scored the team’s highest 2018 finish to date when he crossed the line in third at Long Beach last Sunday.