Motorsport legend Mario Andretti crowns Scott Dixon as 'an all-time great' in Indycar
Motorsport legend Mario Andretti says Scott Dixon's versatility sets him apart as the Kiwi makes a surprisingly strong start to the defence of his IndyCar championship.
Dixon followed up a seventh on the St Petersburg street circuit with victory at the Phoenix oval last weekend. That has him quickly up to second in a title race where he is notoriously sluggish out of the gates.
The circus shifts to California next weekend with the Grand Prix of Long Beach presenting another street circuit where Dixon triumphed last year in a season where he captured his fourth drivers' championship.
"The beauty about our series is the versatility required that no other series does," Andretti told AZ Central Sports as Dixon's hot form hogs headlines in the United States.
Andretti knows what it takes to be a champion, winning the 1978 Formula One championship and four IndyCar titles as well as scooping the 1969 Indy 500 and 1967 Daytona 500. He was named Driver of the Century by the Associated Press in 2000.
"To be a multi champion, like Scott, with the competition he's facing, it shows how remarkable his talent is. No matter where you go, he's fighting for the lead.
"You can't be any better than that. I put a big crown on his head. Absolutely, he deserves it. He's among the all-time greats."
Dixon's latest win at Phoenix took his IndyCar victories to 39, equalling Al Unser. Only A.J. Foyt (67), Mario Andrettie (52) and his son Michael Andretti (42) sit ahead of Dixon.
Dario Franchitti, Dixon's teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing until he was forced to retire in 2013 because of concussion problems, marvels at the Kiwi's unwavering commitment.
"In the car he's absolutely relentless," Franchitti said.
"It doesn't appear his motivation has dipped. Young drivers, they are hungry to get some success. Then, as they get more success and more trappings of success, they get less hungry. Not Scott. He just keeps doing it."
Franchitti believes the 35-year-old Dixon's success lies in striking a balance between racing cars and his family life.
"He"must be very good at compartmentalising his life. I've watched him with his girls and wife. He kisses them and gets into the car and off he goes. How he can do that, the way he does it, he's something special.
"He loves a sort of quiet life, which is kind of unusual for a racing driver."
Dixon's team-mate Tony Kanaan backs that up, believing the humble New Zealander isn't bothered by fame.
"He's not worrying about people knowing who he is. I don't think he cares. He's a true racer. It only matters to him to win," Kanaan said.
Dixon has targeted this year's 100th running of the Indy 500 on May 29 as a priority. He won there in 2008.
This year he is also mixing up endurance racing, confirmed to contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in June.