When Scott Dixon turned his first official practice laps in Friday morning’s opening Roar Before the Rolex 24 test at Daytona International Speedway, it was more than an opportunity to learn an unfamiliar car. For Dixon, it was a matter of getting reacquainted with Prototype cars as he got to grips with the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. The ease with which he got up to speed made his new boss happy, though.
“I’m pretty impressed, but I knew I was going to be impressed,” said team owner Wayne Taylor. “There’s a reason why he’s a five-time champion.”
Immediately after being named to co-drive the No. 10 Cadillac with team regulars Briscoe and Renger van der Zande plus defending Rolex 24 winner Kamui Kobayashi, Dixon (pictured at left, above) began calling the team for information.
“His focus has been non-stop,” Taylor said. “He’d been calling Travis [Houge] and Brian [Pillar] to talk about engineering stuff, studying steering wheels, the dashboard, everything about the car so that he’s comfortable. Scott’s done it before, but he’s never driven a DPi so he’s figuring out how it all works. He even volunteered to do a simulator test in the car as well. He drove the car at Sebring. He was right on pace, comfortable, no earth-shattering maneuvers.”
“Preparation is key for a race like the Rolex 24,” Dixon said. “The last thing you want to do — especially when you’re the guy coming in for only a few races — is to be the guy that messes it up. It also helps with the process to make sure you understand everything. I’m sure there are going to be a few things that catch me off guard, but so far it’s been smooth from the get-go.”
In addition to capturing five IndyCar Series titles for Chip Ganassi Racing — including a victory in the 2008 Indianapolis 500 — Dixon is a two-time overall winner for Ganassi in the Rolex 24, winning the event in 2006 and 2015. He also won the GTLM class for Ganassi in 2018, driving a Ford GT with Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.
“It’s good to be back in a Prototype,” Dixon said. “It feels a lot different here from Sebring (where he tested). It’s great to be part of this team, and thanks to Chip for allowing me to do this.”
All of Dixon’s 16 starts in the Rolex 24 have been in a Ganassi machine.
“It’s definitely a change [coming to Wayne Taylor Racing], but there are a lot of familiar faces,” Dixon said. “I think everybody understands how small a community this is. It’s been really good, and it’s great to team up with Ryan again. Also, it’s great to be back here in the fastest category.”
While Dixon raced a Daytona Prototype 12 times in the Rolex 24, this will be his first race in a DPi.
“I think the DP and the DPi are fairly similar,” Dixon said. “Every car has its quirks and balance differences, but out of the box it feels more like the DP. The Ford GT was similar to this in a few ways, too, which is not always true for a GT car. The most difficult thing about this car is when you get in later in a run and the tires are old it’s kind of a tricky car to drive. If you have new tires and run through a stint, you don’t notice it as much.”
Taylor was also impressed with Dixon’s approach to becoming part of an unfamiliar team.
“Dixon is really something special with what he’s done with IndyCar and the Ford GT and the days of the Grand Am cars,” Taylor said.” He just got in the car and his whole attitude towards it was very calm, and he’s continued to follow through all of that. It’s going to be really interesting to have him and Briscoe, Kamui and Renger on the same team. I think the one thing that stands out about Scott is his focus on being part of the team. A lot of drivers like the focus to be on them, and he very much is a team player.”