The beauty of what Scott Dixon has accomplished isn’t found in the numbers (43 wins) or the relatively short period of time it took him to get there (17 Indy car seasons plus nine races).
It isn’t necessarily found in the fact that – following his victory Saturday night in the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway – just two drivers are ahead of Dixon on the list of all-time wins. It isn’t his humility about all of it or the hush with which he accumulates trophies.
No, the beauty of what Scott Dixon has accomplished can be found in the details surrounding it. In the course of eight days, he moved from fourth place all time into a tie for third and then third place alone. Only Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt are ahead of Dixon on that list. The beauty is that Mario and A.J. are seeing it, admiring it and congratulating him at each step, and they’re not alone.
Nearly all of the drivers in history’s top 14 are involved in the sport – three as active drivers, two as team owners and several others employed by teams. Dixon is doing it in real time in front of competitors past and present who are honored that he’s moving up the ladder. Likewise, he’s honored that they’re taking an interest in his accomplishments.
“It's really cool,” Dixon said after Saturday’s victory, which broke a tie with Michael Andretti for third place on the list. “Obviously I have massive respect for a lot of these drivers. But when you look at those names – A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, the Unsers – to me it still seems very strange that 'Dixon' is on that list, too.”
It shouldn’t seem strange. Since that first victory with PacWest Racing at Nazareth Speedway at the age of 20, Dixon has won at a steady clip. Only two of his 18 seasons – 2002 and 2004 – have gone without a victory. He won the championship in his first season in the Indy Racing League, conquering his new ovals-only assignment in 2003 with abandon. In his best season – 2008 – Dixon won six races (including the Indy 500) and his second championship, the transition to a balanced schedule of ovals, road and street courses then in its fourth season.
Need more beauty in the details? Dixon’s third Texas victory came under entirely different circumstances than his previous 18 races at the 1.5-mile oval. The new universal aero kit was a difficult task for everyone, but the best are always able to adapt.
And, in this case, the best remains thankful.
“I feel very privileged and lucky to do what I get to do,” Dixon said Saturday night. “I love racing. I love the Verizon IndyCar Series. I think it's the best racing on the planet, one of the most difficult with all the disciplines. For me, man, I just hope it continues. I hope we can keep a winning style, pick up wins. It's so difficult right now. It's so competitive.”
About a year ago, in a place not far from here, the following words emerged from this keyboard in a column about Dixon’s greatness and standing in history. He’d just won at Road America, and Dario Franchitti – 10th on the all-time list – asked why his friend wasn’t getting more credit.
It went something like this:
“Not long ago, Dario Franchitti wondered out loud why his dude wasn’t getting his due. After all, Scott Dixon moved into fourth place on the all-time list of winners in Indy car racing, establishing his place in history, but few seemed to notice.
“Why is it that the best of the era is doing it before an audience that seems to be napping in a library? Why is it that the guy who trails only A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and Michael Andretti isn’t on the cover of Sports Illustrated and a guest on every late-night talk show?
“At the time, Dario’s notion was seconded on social media, but it’s time for a third, fourth and fifth. For those too young to remember A.J. and Mario, Dixon is the best you’ll see, and it’s time to acknowledge and amplify that fact in the moment. Not wait until it’s over, but say it loud, in real time, while we’re still watching him.
“I’ll start. Scott Dixon is the best I’ve ever covered. There, I feel better already.”
Still stands. Always will. In the details lie the beauty, and we’re lucky to be witnessing it.