Dixon expects fine for criticizing IndyCar
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)
Scott Dixon expects to be fined by IndyCar for calling for race director Beaux Barfield to be fired following a second consecutive frustrating race that affected his championship chances.
Dixon told The Associated Press on Wednesday after a few days to cool off, he realized he probably deserves a penalty for his frank comments after crashing out of Sunday's race at Baltimore.
''Reflecting on it, I shouldn't have been so outspoken and I probably will be fined for it and I respect that,'' Dixon said. ''It was just frustration of a two-week period. For me, I love the sport, I want to see it better and what I did didn't help. My concern is not making things look bad for the series. I love my job and don't want to be doing anything else, and I don't want it to be perceived otherwise. I want to learn from the mistakes we've made.''
Dixon has been outspoken before in his desire for consistency from race control, but the New Zealander has amped up his criticism after back-to-back races cost him valuable ground in his race with Helio Castroneves for the IndyCar championship.
Dixon was penalized in Sonoma two weeks ago when his car made contact with a crew member for Will Power, Castroneves' teammate, on the final pit stop. Barfield said Dixon had driven into the Penske Racing work space, but Dixon alleged the crew member walked into his car. The penalty cost Dixon a chance to race for the win, and opinion was split through the paddock as to who was at fault and if race control perhaps should have not penalized anyone.
At Baltimore, Dixon was angered when officials ignored a Chip Ganassi Racing request to tow his car back to pit lane so his team could attempt to repair it following an accident with Will Power with 22 laps remaining.
Dixon finished 19th and lost more ground to Castroneves in the championship race. Dixon is 49 points behind Castroneves with three races remaining.
''For me, it's just about consistency, that's the only thing,'' Dixon said. ''The actual accident with Power, it got me fired up. Then we were trying to get the car back, and that is what set me off and I used words I shouldn't have used. It was a chain of events.''
Both Dixon and Ganassi team manager Mike Hull have had several conversations with IndyCar President of competition Derrick Walker since Sunday about the car not being towed back to pit lane.
''Derrick gave us an answer that they (race control) didn't receive communication for it to happen, and he doesn't know why and it's never going to happen again,'' Hull said Wednesday. ''I don't like the answer, but I am going to accept the answer. That's how our team chooses to operate. I think we are in a transitionary phase with Derrick and the position he's in. I'm willing to be patient while Derrick builds a product.''
Dixon is also satisfied that Walker, who joined IndyCar in May after the Indianapolis 500, is investigating various incidents over the last few months, adjusting to his new role and can be a positive addition to the series.
''The hard thing for me to swallow is it's going to take time, and you don't always have years you are going to be fighting for a championship,'' he said. ''For them, they've got work they want to do on procedures and they know they want to enforce some things differently going forward. After this season, things will be hopefully be for the better.''
Regardless of how the last two races have gone, the Ganassi team does not believe it's out of the championship race. And Dixon won't blame a call at Sonoma or not being towed back to Baltimore for his deficit, instead pointing to issues at Texas and Iowa as races where he lost valuable points.
But Hull still likes where the team is sitting with only a doubleheader in Houston and the finale at Fontana remaining.
''I'd be more concerned if we didn't have quality race cars and a quality driver who didn't give us a chance to win,'' he said. ''I think the pressure is on Helio. They've got to decide how they are going to race going forward. We don't.''
And just like Dixon, Hull wants the focus to be back on the championship battle and the on-track product, and not on the off-track drama or issues with race control. It was the overwhelming story in 2011 when Dario Franchitti and Power raced for the title as drivers complained weekly about race director Brian Barnhart, who was ousted at the end of the season.
''We would like to be the defining statement to be about what goes on on the race track and the wheel-to-wheel action,'' Hull said. ''There was a time when Toronto, St. Pete, Detroit, they were processional events, they were enormously boring and the only action was at the beer stand. What's going on now is passing, passing for the lead, different pit sequences - that's what should be the most important and defining story.
''We are racing for a championship here, and that's what we should be talking about.''