ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Scott Dixon used precise strategy and decisive driving to get to the front of Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix and score his first win of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
It was the type of performance that has made Dixon one of the most decorated drivers in the history of the sport with 41 career victories. For 40 of those wins – and all four of his Verizon IndyCar Series championships – the Kiwi has been under the guidance of Mike Hull, managing director of Chip Ganassi Racing and Dixon’s race strategist for most of his illustrious career.
This past weekend, Hull (at left in photo above with team owner Chip Ganassi) celebrated 25 years at CGR, a span in which the team has celebrated 11 Indy car championships and 103 Indy car wins, just four behind Newman/Haas Racing for second all-time.
But despite the numerous races, wins and championships, Hull and company haven’t been keeping count and have no intention of slowing down.
“We’ve never really looked at 25 years,” Hull said prior to Sunday’s race. “We truly look at it one day at a time. I never really thought about it until someone reminded me that this was an anniversary, but it’s terrific. It’s been extraordinary to work for Chip for this length of time. I never really thought in my wildest dreams that we’d accomplish all the things that we have.”
Hull’s tenure at Ganassi has consistently produced results. His relationship with Dixon has made the duo perhaps the most formidable in the INDYCAR paddock. Now in his 15th season in Dixon’s ear (2003-present), Hull has directed Dixon to 11 top-four finishes in the championship and is well on the way to a 12th in 2017. Following the victory Sunday, Dixon leads the standings and has a 34-point advantage over second-place Simon Pagenaud.
Also with the victory at the KOHLER Grand Prix, Dixon won a race for the 13th consecutive season, extending his Indy car record.
“It's cool, you know, to have the significance of (Hull’s anniversary) on this weekend, to top it off with a win,” Dixon said. “To be at any team for 25 years is pretty amazing.
“He's a calm person,” continued Dixon, who presented Hull with a congratulatory cake (at left) before the race. “I can get pretty worked up at some points throughout the races. It's nice to have that sort of level-headed person on the stand to extract the most out of everybody that's on there. We win and lose as a team.
“All but one race victory (of mine) has been with this team. Mike's a very large, instrumental piece of Chip's team and the success that they've had.”
Speaking on the team itself, Hull – per usual – gave a sage response indicative of his renowned experience.
“I think the definition of a team is that you don’t win once,” said the California native who once raced Formula Fords and worked for Indy car teams at Arciero Racing and Patrick Racing before being hired by Chip Ganassi in 1992. “You have to find ways to continue to motivate each other and find new ways to be better than your competition. That’s the hard part.
“These days,” he added, “the driver is an integral part of success, but the team has to provide the driver what the driver needs. It’s been gratifying that we’ve been able to do that over the period of time we have.”
Hull, Dixon and the rest of the Verizon IndyCar Series is back in action the weekend of July 8-9 for the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network have live coverage of qualifying (3 p.m. ET July 8) and the 300-lap race (5 p.m. ET July 9).