Scott Dixon in pitbox

It’s a new season, Scott Dixon says, with the commencement of practice for the 97th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Dixon put the first quarter of the IZOD IndyCar Series season of personal mixed results behind once he drove into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 11. The 2008 series champion is fifth in the standings following a pair of top-five finishes, including second place at Barber Motorsports Park in early April, through four road/street course events. He’s finished 11th and 18th the past two events – gaining 17 positions at Long Beach but disappointed for falling at Sao Paulo on May 5 after starting sixth.

Click it: Scott Dixon's Indianapolis 500 results

“You kind of separate the month of May in your mind. You want to start the season as strong as possible and we’ve started average – 35 points out of first -- so it’s not the end of the world though obviously we would have like it to be a lot better,” said Dixon, who shook down the No. 9 and No. 9T (backup) Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars during Opening Day of practice.

Dixon won the ‘500’ from the pole in 2008, and in his past seven starts has finished no worse than sixth. In 10 career starts, Dixon has an average start of 6.7 and finish of 7.6. He’s led 356 laps and completed 1,850 of the 1,946 laps run (94.5 percent). Dixon was runner-up to teammate Dario Franchitti last May.

“We set two goals for the year and that’s to win the ‘500’ and then try to win the championship,” he added. “We’re at that point now and our focus is on the ‘500.’ We’ll look at the other races once we get out of this month.”

Dixon, an Indianapolis resident with two young daughters, hosted youngsters May 10 at the Target Chip Ganassi Racing shop as part of PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great program.

“It’s cool to see the excitement at their age to see the race cars, touch the helmets,” Dixon said.

Entrant list rises to 35 with another from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has filed a second entry for the Indianapolis 500, increasing the entry number to 35 for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

No driver was listed for the Honda-powered No. 99 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. A backup car was entered.

Remembering Pace Car ride 30 years later

Patrick Nalon, son of 1949 and '51 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Duke Nalon, visited the Speedway during Opening Day.

"The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is just the crown jewel of auto racing, and it is a fun time to be here," said Patrick Nalon, who attended his first race in 1956.

He remembers riding in the 1983 Buick Riviera convertible as his father was the honorary Pace Car driver.

"We got real close to the short chute fence, and he looked over at me real cool and said, ‘I’m not chilling you, am I, Patrick?’ So he still had the ability even in the later years,” Nalon said.

Of note

The Dale Coyne Racing entry for driver Pippa Mann will carry No. 63. Cyclops Gear, a boutique line of recording eyewear, will be the primary sponsor of the car. The Honda-powered entry will run this month in association with Stenz Construction, Royal Spa and Bell Helmets. … Team Penske drivers AJ Allmendinger, Helio Castroneves and Will Power will greet shoppers/fans at the Meijer store in Carmel, Ind., from 7:30-8:30 p.m. May 14. They'll be giving away five pair of Race Day tickets, plus rides will be given in the Indy Racing Experience street-legal two-seater in the parking lot. ... Josef Newgarden in the No. 21 Century 21 car for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing was the first to complete a lap on Opening Day. Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske was first to complete a lap on Opening Day 2012.