INDIANAPOLIS — Scott Dixon was in a playful mood to spice up Tuesday’s photo shoot at Chip Ganassi Racing headquarters.
A crew member came out with a bright blue “1” decal and affixed it to the five-time IndyCar Series champion’s PNC Bank Honda. Presto! Dixon’s familiar No. 9 was now a No. 1.
“We’ll put it out there and see if anybody catches it,” Dixon said with a smile of the photo that was shared on Instagram on Friday afternoon. And, oh yeah, people noticed. Comments to the post ran wild.
The No. 1 is reserved for the series champion to use the season following the championship. It’s the driver and team’s option to use it. And it’s certainly befitting for Dixon, who won the 2018 title and whose 44 career victories rank third on the all-time list.
But this was merely for laughs … and to see what reactions it would elicit.
The Instagram caption on Dixon's post read: “Reunited with this beauty. (race car emoji), little preseason shoot. That orange pops! (face emoji).”
Sure enough, when the photo was shared on INDYCAR’s Twitter account (@IndyCar), the first comment was from a race fan who fell for the gag: “Oh wow …. Dixon is actually going to run the No. 1.”
Actually, no, he’s not.
“We’ll turn up to the official test with the No. 9 on there,” Dixon said of INDYCAR Spring Training set for Feb. 12-13 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
The 38-year-old New Zealander did run with the No. 1 once before with Ganassi.
“That’s after we won the 2003 championship,” he said. “We ran it into 2004, and then we’ve never done it since. I think some people will get a little bit of a laugh out of it.”
What wasn’t a laughing matter was where Dixon finished in 2004, a distant 10th place, the second-worst points finish of his legendary career.
“I like (No.) 9, but to be honest, it’s Chip’s decision,” Dixon said.